CONCERNED the Belconnen area is being left behind for infrastructure and maintenance, former ACT Liberal Party leader Bill Stefaniak is standing again to make sure it doesn’t.
Bill was the ACT opposition leader in 2006 before being replaced by Zed Seselja in 2007 and wants another crack at politics because of his worries for the region.
He’ll be standing for his own Belco Party.
“Fundamentally, there’s a concern that Belconnen might be left behind in terms of development in Canberra,” says Bill, 68, of Narrabundah.
“It worries me a bit, some of the infrastructure looks tired, buildings are left derelict.”
One building Bill’s concerned about is the Hawker Tennis Centre, which he says has, over the years, been burnt, vandalised, used as a squat and is dangerous.
“People in the area are also worried about sporting ovals being left neglected and having units put on them,” he says.
While Bill doesn’t live in the Belconnen area these days, he says Ginninderra is still “his” electorate and where he watched his two youngest children grow up, and where he lived for more than 21 years.
“We have lots of friends here and a lovely, extended family here, and two of our youngest kids were brought up here,” says Bill, who represented Ginninderra from 1995 to 2008.
He says he knows the area well, and argues that the Labor Party no longer stands for the Ginninderra electorate.
“One of the big problems for the Labor Party Australia-wide and especially in Canberra, and the Greens too, is it used to be a strong party of the working class and now it’s not, it’s inner-city elites. Belco and Belconnen certainly isn’t inner-city and it’s certainly not elite,” he says.
Bill believes the biggest problem is that Canberra has had a government for 19 years, and in that time, he says governments get tired and ministers get arrogant.
“I get complaints all the time that the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, won’t go to any events where people are going to criticise him,” he says.
“In the early days I was impressed by the chief minister but now he’s become aloof and quite dogmatic and it’s gone to his head.
“This government isn’t listening. Once we get started and this virus is out of the way, disgruntled people will want to see someone new in government.
“It’s just a government that’s got complacent. It’s a long time even for a good government to be in.”
No matter who takes government come October 17, Bill says the Belco Party will be there to keep them honest.
“We will bring a commonsense approach of getting things done in a practical way,” he says.
In the lead up to the election the Belco Party will have more policies to push, too.
“I think politicising the public service causes problems, I think there’s certainly a lot of anger in the community about development, building standards need improving, there are considerable concerns in relation to rates,” Bill says.
Once registered, Bill will be running under the Belco Party, but he is also looking for five other like-minded people with various life experience and skills.
“I come with lengthy experience in the Assembly, a lot of corporate knowledge, I held ministerial portfolios in the third and fourth assemblies, and none of my departments were ever over budget,” he says.
Bill also brings a lot of experience from a background in law, and has worked as an appeals president for the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. More recently he was a senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney on a part-time basis.
Candidate Bill says the ACT government could do a heck of a lot better.
“I wonder if the ACT Greens are really environmentalists,” he says.
“We have 40,000 less trees than what we’re meant to have, and a lot of it has to do with development. Are they being compromised by being in a coalition?
“The ACT government has [also] blown out the budget. There are a number of programs under them that are ‘can haves’ and not ‘must haves’.
“Whoever forms the government in October is going to have a big job to rein in expenditure because the current government has certainly spent money far in excess.”