John Alexander | Liberal

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Bennelong By-election

 

1. Tell us your name & political party.

John Alexander OAM MP, Liberal Party of Australia

 

2. What is your connection to Bennelong and why are you running for the seat?

I have been the local member since 2010. Before entering Parliament I was the Managing Director of Next Gen Clubs Australia, where we developed the Next Gen Ryde fitness club in the lead up to the Olympics.

I’m running because I’m passionate about the Bennelong area and its people. I want to see that locals get the best possible outcomes in all areas of life: professional, recreational, family, community service, volunteerism, multicultural community support and individual wellbeing.

The best chance for this to happen is if we empower enterprise, promote personal and family freedom, and promote policies that strengthen the economy. This will bring low unemployment, and financial resources to fund world’s best practice in infrastructure, health and education funding.

I feel the community deserve someone who cares about them, and engages warmly with them. Since 2010 I am proud to have been the community’s number one supporter. It’s about who can engage with the community most effectively, empathetically and openly. 

I am the Chair of the Infrastructure, Cities and Transport Committee where we have delivered many reports and recommendations on how we can decongest our cities, open up the regions, connect them with fast rail and fund it with the value capture of regional land use rezoning (and not general tax revenue).

The government have heeded my call and are now funding business case studies for faster rail networks to Newcastle, west to Parkes, and down to Wollongong. I’m running also to ensure this initiative proceeds as fast as possible, as it will relieve congestion locally in the long term.

I have lots to do and am energised to continue the important work.   

 

3. Tell us a bit about yourself and what other “hats” you wear in your life.

I’m the dad to three young adults, all in their 20s, Georgia, Emily, and Charlie. Georgia is in fact my housemate at the moment in Epping!

I’m formerly a professional tennis player, reaching number 7 in the world. I have fond memories winning the Davis Cup for Australia in Sydney in 1977!

More recently I have business experience developing family fitness clubs as Managing Director for Next Gen Clubs Australia. I also was a commentator for Channel 7’s coverage of the Australian summer of tennis.

Finally I wear the hat labelled “Bennelong’s number one supporter!” You would have seen me at many, many local community group events since 2010 supporting their brilliant community work, and securing funding where needed.   

 

4. What do you love most about the area and what is your favourite spot?

When I’m in Canberra, Parliament typically finishes for the week on a Thursday afternoon, so I then hop in my car and drive home. Three hours later it became a tradition of mine to drop into Putney’s Da Bruno Pizzeria to collect one of their delicious pizzas to eat when I got to my then home. This was a sure fire way for me to reconnect with the real world and leave all that Canberra business behind me, and get a fill of brilliant locally prepared pizza!

I lived in Putney for many years with my three then teenagers. They’ve now left the nest, so I downsized to Epping where I currently live. Georgia has since returned as my housemate! 

What I love about Putney is its central location, yet relaxed feel. You can stroll along the serine Parramatta River (partly federally funded pathway!) and enjoy your local parks and back yards, yet at the same time be up at Top Ryde Shopping Centre within five minutes to catch a movie or get the car washed; or be on the 507 bus whizzing into the city not having to worry about parking or enduring a long commute.

Of course close by is the successful Next Gen fitness and lifestyle centre near Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre. I built that centre so it always gives me a nice feeling seeing it there and knowing it’s doing well, serving locals, and making their health better for the future.

Bennelong the man lived at Putney’s Kissing Point in the final years of his incredible life, where he rests there now. When walking past I contemplate the incredible life and difficult experiences he had, and I am thankful for his efforts in commencing the reconciliation process between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australia that continues to this day.   

All the suburbs of Bennelong are wonderful places to call home. The reason is because of the supportive and diverse community that lives here. From Ermington to Gladesville, Putney to North Epping up in the crook of the Lane Cove River, and Eastwood in the middle, there is a place for everyone here in Bennelong.

The Italian, Chinese, Korean, Armenian, and other communities have made our area such a rich cultural destination and place to live. In fact West Ryde of all places is now fast becoming a foodie destination, wonderful!

 

5. What do you believe are the 3 main issues affecting the seat of Bennelong and why? If elected how would you address each of those issues?

Home values

I oppose Labor’s policy of abolishing negative gearing for second hand housing, and hiking Capital Gains Tax by 50%. Our area has suffered the worst of the real estate downturn, with the Ryde local government area leading the nation in house price declines. These policies will put further downward pressure on our already fragile local property market, which will be catastrophic for local families already suffering mortgage stress, and the general economy.

I also support policies that will stabilise and then transition the property market to one more dominated by homeowners, and not property speculators.

I chaired a Parliamentary inquiry into home ownership and affordability, and if elected will continue to press for further reform in this area. 

 

Local congestion

Overdevelopment has added further to our local traffic woes.

The budget has secured over $1 billion for special local congestion busting projects. I have already secured $80 million for a new bus interchange at Macquarie Park, and $4.5 million to fix up the intersection of Blaxland and Balaclava Rd. I’ve worked with Ryde State MP Victor Dominello to secure the planned widening of Victoria Rd at West Ryde; and the delivery of the North West Metro (which is just about to open!).

You can access an interactive map of what I have delivered near you here: https://tinyurl.com/JADeliveringForBennelong.

I Chair the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Cities and Transport and we have tabled two detailed inquiries on how to address local congestion.

Read them here:

I have championed for many years the need for a national plan of settlement that will incentivise people to live in the regions. If they could commute to Sydney via fast rail, the regions would be opened up to city jobs. We now have funding to investigate the business cases for faster rail corridors from Sydney to Wollongong, Newcastle and Parkes. If elected I will continue to push hard to see this initiative proceed as fast as possible, as it will reduce local congestion in the long term.

 

Health

Please check the facts and don’t believe Labor’s lies. We are hiking health funding!

Federal funding for public hospital services under the Coalition Government has increased from Labor’s $13.3 billion in 2012–13, to $21.7 billion in 2018–19. That is more than 60% up on Labor’s last year in office.

Labor have wildly unfunded health ‘commitments’ beyond the forward estimates, and they compare spending to these future phantom levels when they say ‘cuts’, it is unconscionable deceitfulness.

Medicare is guaranteed in legislation, and Bennelong is now at a record high bulk billing rate of 89%!

The PBS is fully funded and supported. All recommended medicines in the last term of government were listed, this will not change.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is one of the four pillars of our health system, along with Medicare, Private Health Insurance and universal access to public hospitals.

We continue to be committed to promoting private health insurance through the premium rebate scheme, this scheme is not secure under Labor. In April 2018, Bill Shorten twice refused to rule out cutting the private health insurance rebate. Labor can’t be trusted to keep it.

Only with a strong economy can we deliver these important services without going into national debt.

 

Education

I’m proud to have supported Gonski 2.0, we have delivered a fair, needs based federal funding model that supports students.

Our guaranteed funding commitment invests an additional $37 billion in schools over the next decade (to 2029).

This increases average funding per student by 62% over a decade.

Funding is being hiked, not ‘cut’!

The Catholic school sector had legitimate concerns regarding the socioeconomic score being assigned to their schools, we listened and adjusted the formula accordingly, that is fair and demonstrates our capacity to engage and listen, and then act.

Labor are a risk to the independence of faith-based schools, with freedom of religion under growing threat, this is concerning and not fair.

To see what long term funding is being provided to your local school, go to: www.education.gov.au/school-funding-estimator

We have replaced Labor’s multiple secret funding deals with a single, needs-based national model of schools funding. This is something I am particularly proud of.

The Government’s new Child Care Subsidy is making child care more accessible and affordable for nearly 1 million families. A typical family is around $1,300 better off a year.

 

6. What other key objectives do you have planned for the area? Please provide short-term (under 12 months) and long-term (up to 3/4 years). Please keep to a max of 4.

Short term:

Promote bulk billing so we can get through the 90% bulk billing rate barrier! It’s currently at 89%.

Promote the study of STEM subjects by running the third annual Bennelong Schools STEM Challenge, in partnership with local med-tech firm Medtronic, and the Re-Engineering Foundation. St Charles Catholic Primary School won the challenge in 2018.  

Personally be available to any local community group to promote their services

Promote the rollout of multi generational playgroups to better engage elderly and younger Australians.

Long term:

Progress the faster rail network business case studies.

Develop a preventative health pilot program partnering with local doctors, chemists, and personal trainers.

Develop an affordable housing policy for essential workers, allowing them to partially buy homes to live in, in partnership with a government-controlled trust.

Deliver the Macquarie Park bus interchange with $80 million already committed.

 

7. What is your party leaders biggest strength and biggest weakness?

Strengths:

ScoMo is a caring family man.

He’s a personable leader, and relatable to most people.

The Prime Minister is across complex detail, and can then simply communicate that detail. 

Weaknesses:

None! Actually: He’s had limited time in the job for people to get to know him. He’s not very good at playing tennis, and he supports the Sharks…