In the Media

Anna Tree on Focal Point with Peter Greco

Anna Tree on Focal Point with Peter Greco

Peter Greco: We’re going to speak to Anna Tree, Anna is the campaign manager for the Dignity Party, of course represented in the Legislative Council by Kelly Vincent and Kelly and her team have been working quite hard for people who are blind or vision impaired to be able to vote in an accessible way at the 2018 State election of course up until now other states have had a bit of a head start on people in South Australia so, let’s hope in 2018 South Australia in some small way starts to catch up and give people who are blind or vision impaired a chance to vote accessibly.  Anna Welcome.

Anna Tree: Hi Peter, how are you?

Peter Greco: pretty good, have you got some news for us in 2018 I think March 17th is the election date, people who are blind or vision impaired will they have a chance to vote, in an independent way?

Anna Tree: Yes, finally they will. Kelly Vincent introduced a private members bill back in 2014 I think it was, where one of the measures was looking at this issue, acknowledging that people with vision impairment or that are blind have been able to vote independently using electronic methods in federal elections for some years now and that in South Australian state elections, we’ve really fallen behind. Thankfully, the State government has listened to Kelly’s call on this and so the bill that we passed through the parliament a couple of months ago, enables vision impaired or blind voters to vote electronically next year, and you’re right it’s on March 17 2018, so that’s a really, really positive thing.

Peter Greco: I guess in terms of the logistics or mechanics of how it’s going to work, I guess we stand by for more information about that?

Anna Tree: Yes, yes, well I’ll make sure that Kelly Vincent, comes on and has a chat with you in the coming months, once we’ve met with the electoral commissioner, we do have a new electoral commissioner in South Australia, and we’ll be meeting with him to discuss how exactly it’s going to work but we certainly think that it’s an absolute basic right that all eligible voting South Australians should be able to cast a secret ballot whether they have a vision impairment or not so, it’s pleasing that this is finally in place.

Peter Greco: We agitated Kay Mousley who was the previous commissioner a few times and she said she’d love to be able to do it but that it needed legislative change, so it’s good to know that Kelly has talked the government over to seeing it our way which is great. Anna you’re campaign manager for the Dignity Party, I mean I guess we’re a little bit biased here we talk to Kelly fairly regularly and we’re sort of fans if you like, but it’s going to be a pretty challenging time over the next 6 and a bit months.

Anna Tree: Yes it is, certainly a very tough, what’s going to be a tough campaign there’s a lot of independent and small party voices in the upper house, so Kelly is up for re-election on March 17. Voters in South Australia do like voting for people outside the major parties which is a positive thing for us, but of course the Dignity Party we are a smaller operation than the Greens and  Australian Conservatives and the Xenophon Party but we think that we punch well above our weight in terms of the influence that we’re having on the South Australian Political system and the changes that Kelly has made to improve the lives of South Australians that are disadvantaged or have disabilities in the last 7 and a half years or so, through her work so, she’s only one person but boy has she made a difference to the lives of South Australians. I mean we’ve seen the Disability services budget more than double or even quadrupled in the time that she has been in parliament, so we’ve seen the introduction of the national disability insurance scheme, there’s some challenges with that but it’s certainly overall a positive scheme and so we hope that South Australians will acknowledge the work that Kelly Vincent has done and the change that she’s made, the difference that she’s made for the lives of South Australians and support her re-election on March 17.

Peter Greco: It’ll be very strong as far as justice goes, especially for people with disabilities as well.

Anna Tree: Yes absolutely, the justice system is one of the areas of work that Kelly Vincent is most proud of, the work that she’s done there in concert with the Attorney General’s department and the Attorney General and other arms of government in terms of improving the system so we’ve made legislative changes, we’ve also made system changes and training of people that work in the justice system whether that be police or in the courts or lawyers, and judges that work with people both alleged offenders and victims, but also witnesses. So regardless of your disability you should have the right to access the justice system in the same way that everyone else does and unfortunately statistics show that people with disabilities have a higher rate of or more likely to get caught up in the justice system either as a victim or as an alleged offender, and so it’s really important that the justice system which is a very traditional place, that it really reforms as it already has done in the last few years, but does also do this in the coming years to improve the outcomes for people with disabilities.

Peter Greco: Now you’ve named 4 candidates for the upper house, Kelly of course is number 1, Diana Bleby number 2, Ryan Mann number 3 and Esther Simbi number 4. What about your lower house candidates, they’re going to have to be announced in the next few months?

Anna Tree: Esther Simbi ran for us in 2014 and she is doing so again supporting Kelly Vincent’s re-election there. But, yes we have pre-selected a number of candidates around 20-25 of them for the lower house seats. It will be and is the biggest campaign that Dignity Party, and of course our previous names Dignity for Disability and Dignity for Disabled, that has ever been run by the party and that is to ensure that we can push really hard to get Kelly Vincent re-elected, so we will in October be launching a large team of lower house candidates and we have a pretty good spread over metropolitan Adelaide but we’ll also have some in regional South Australia as well. Because we know that when we get out to regional areas, people with disabilities and people that face other disadvantages find that even more so the case once they’re in a regional area in terms of accessing health services, accessing justice services, and accessing disability services, so we want to be giving a voice to the concerns that regional areas have in the disability area but also in other areas, government department areas where they don’t get the services that they need.

Peter Greco: Anna thanks for your time, that’s very good news, keep in touch regarding the accessible voting in 2018, but good luck and like I said we’ll keep in touch.

Anna Tree: Thanks for having me on Peter.

Peter Greco: Anna Tree. Anna is the campaign manager for the Dignity Party for the 2018 state election.