Andrew Potts | Affordable Housing party

Your age and experience in politics?   

“I'm 39 and I've been covering state and federal politics as a journalist and newspaper editor for over a decade. 

“I have interviewed many of Australia's top politicians including our current prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Heffernan, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese.  

“I'm being mentored in my campaign by Reg Macey, a former Liberal Member of the Victorian Legislative Council who resigned from his party when the Liberals abandoned Sir Robert Menzies' dream of “an Australian nation … in which every family is enabled to live in, and preferably to own, a comfortable home at reasonable cost and with adequate community amenities,” as articulated in his 1945 Liberal Party constitution.  

“Reg and I registered the Affordable Housing Party with the Electoral Commission during Homelessness Week this year and this byelection will be the first election that we contest.”

What is your heritage and citizenship status?  

“My father's family is descended from Jonathan Warner, an officer in the New South Wales Royal Veteran Corp and later Police Magistrate of Brisbane Waters who arrived on the Seventh Fleet. 

“He settled the land that Warners Bay now sits on, which was sold off by his children in the 1890's who then moved inland to farm around Boggabri.  

“When my grandmother Ruby Warner married John Potts they moved from Boggabri to Tamworth where my father Bob Potts was born. 

“My father began his career in aviation at Tamworth airport but  had to relocate his family to Sydney for work to be close to an international airport. 

“Many school holidays were spent in Boggabri, visiting and staying with relatives, and I've returned as an adult for the Tamworth Country Music Festival.  

“My mother's side of the family is Scottish through her grandfather. I only have Australian citizenship.”

I want to make life easier for ordinary Australians by making housing affordable again.

Andrew Potts on why he is running

Why are you running?  

“I want to make life easier for ordinary Australians by making housing affordable again.  

“After 20 years of property investor friendly tax perks that encourage investors to outbid home buyers, Australia now has some of the most expensive housing in the world. 

“House prices in Australia have gone up by a staggering 1000% over the last three decades, vastly outstripping wage growth.  

“We are concerned that political inaction around housing affordability is no accident given the huge number of federal parliamentarians who are property investors.  

“Australia's 226 federal politicians now own a staggering 524 properties. 

“On top of that, many of our politicians are also using their generous accommodation allowances of $273 a night to pay off the mortgage on their spouse's Canberra investment property while Parliament is sitting.  

“Our property investing politicians need a wakeup call from the voters or they won't act on this. “

What are the top three issues the electorate is facing?  

“The public housing waiting list is three to four years in New England while there are around a thousand people experiencing some form of homelessness in the electorate at any one time. There needs to be more investment by government in this area.  

“New England also has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country yet the government continues to demonise job seekers and place onerous conditions on them. It's not fair to treat unemployed people like bludgers and push them into poverty when there are so many applicants competing for every job.  

“Government also needs to provide more incentives for new businesses to move into the region and for existing businesses to expand.”

Why should people vote for you?  

“While a swing against Barnaby Joyce is expected, polling suggests he will still retain his seat.  

“But the people of New England can still use this election to send a powerful message to Canberra by voting for a party whose name clearly articulates their disappointment with our current politicians and their inaction on Australia's housing crisis - a crisis which has put households under financial stress all over this country and is pushing more and more people into homelessness.  

“The New England byelection will be the first opportunity for voters to send the Government a message before the federal election is held next year and we want to be the vehicle for that.”

Our survey has found renewable energy to be a big concern in the region, what are policies around renewable energy?  

“As a Single Issue party our policy focus is on housing affordability but I believe climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the human race in years to come and that we need to move to a net zero emissions economy. 

“I believe Australia can achieve this using a combination of wind, solar, geothermal and tidal power generation in combination with pumped hydro to provide base load supply.  

“This can be achieved by properly funding the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the CSIRO.”

How do you propose to bring more jobs to the electorate?  

“I support the proposed abattoir for the Armidale region and would back federal funding for the feasibility study for that.  

“Upgrading the region's roads and bridges could also do a lot to boost employment in the short term.  

“Upgrading the NBN to Fibre to the Node throughout the region like they have in Armidale would allow more people across New England to work over the internet from home. 

“A friend of mine manages a call centre that employs many people across regional Australia remotely but they need a good internet connection for that in order to communicate with the company's head office in the city.”

What is your view of the NBN?  

“Labor's Fibre to the Premises plan was the better plan and one that would have suited Australia's needs for much longer into the future than the Coalition's Fibre to the Node plan which will need to be upgraded far sooner. Good internet is very important for regional Australia and that will only increase as technology progresses. I'm not hearing good things from people who've switched over already.”

Where do you stand on the balance between the region's mining and agriculture industries? 

“Agriculture and aquifers should always come before mining. You can only mine the land once and if it's done wrong you can ruin the water table. Environmental considerations need to be taken very seriously when approving any mining projects.”

This story MEET THE CANDIDATE: Andrew Potts first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.