In the Media

Dignity Party Candidate for Cheltenham Madeline McCaul speaks to Peter Greco on Vision Australia Radio

Peter Greco | Vision Australia

Peter Greco: Dignity Party have a number of people running in the next state election and one of those people is Madeline McCaul contesting the seat of Cheltenham. Welcome, how are you Madeline?

Madeline McCaul: Hi Peter, thanks for having me on.

Peter Greco: Now you’re taking on the biggest boy in town aren’t you, that’s Jay weatherill’s seat, the seat of Cheltenham.

Madeline McCaul: Yes I’m trying not to let the pressure get to me

Peter Greco: well, you know everyone is vulnerable sometimes and we were chatting earlier and I was saying to you and I’ve said to a number of people that we’ve spoken to that there seems to be a certain appetite in the electorate for a bit of change, people are fed up with the conventional politicians and their spin. So I think the Dignity Party has a very good chance. Tell us about why you’ve put your hand up and why you decided to have a crack at this?

Madeline McCaul: I met Kelly earlier this year, or late last year I think it was and I was just captivated by how much more down to earth and relatable she was, I know you see the manufactured politicians in the media. Kelly is very much someone I found I could relate to and who understands my own experiences, and I’ve been really impressed with how she’s been the voice for people who get forgotten in mainstream politics a lot of the time, and I felt I wanted to be a part of that.

Peter Greco: Now one of your strong interests is in public health.

Madeline McCaul: Yes I am a public health post- graduate from Adelaide University, it’s a family business in some ways I guess; we’ve had epidemiologists and biostatisticians on both sides of my family. I think it’s just a really important area of focus in terms of allocating resources, because realistically, unfortunately, there is never enough money in the public piggy bank if you want to call it that, to do everything in a health setting. So you have to really look at what is going to help the people that really need it, what is going to have the most benefit and so on. I feel that is just so important.

Peter Greco: It’s such a big commitment out of the budget financially and as you say there’s never enough money for it and now there is more and more money being needed. What are your thoughts on preventative health Madeline?  Because often there’s the saying what if you put the fence at the top of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom.

Madeline McCaul: Absolutely, from an economic perspective that’s one of the most cost effective things you can do is prevent the problem rather than treating it once it’s occurred. It’s a good way to spend money, it’s a good way to prevent people going through any amount of suffering related to an injury or disease or sickness.

Peter Greco: You feel strongly about people who are marginalised or excluded from the community?

Madeline McCaul: Yes, I do.  I’m both gay and a transgender woman and so those are both groups that have been especially in the spotlight recently with the same sex marriage campaigning.

Peter Greco: You would have been pretty pleased with the result during the week.

Madeline McCaul: Absolutely, but I’m also aware of how people close to me have been affected by the rhetoric around the debate, over the past weeks and that it’s been a hard time to be queer or transgender and I’m hopeful that with that sort of popular mandate of support that perhaps things might get better from here.

Peter Greco: It’s interesting isn’t it because a number of people I’m thinking of in particular Tony Abbott was very much against the yes vote or in other words for the no vote, said afterwards and I’m paraphrasing but said ‘I’m going to pull my head in the people have spoken so let’s move on and get things done’, which hopefully that’s the mood that pervades the community now, after such a divisive vote.

Madeline McCaul: Yes, that’s exactly what I hope is the case.

Peter Greco: And of course mental health under the health umbrella that’s an important thing to you as well?

Madeline McCaul: Yes, very much so, I have PTSD from a past incident, and most of my close friendship circle has one mental health condition or several and I know what a struggle that can be not just with the symptoms but also with the degree of stigma that there is it’s so much harder to talk about than physical illness.

Peter Greco: Well, hopefully that’s getting a little bit better in terms of the community’s awareness of it and ways to be dealing with it, another things which again is impacting lots of people is the shock of big bills and cost of living.

Madeline McCaul: Yes, yes I again I know a lot of people who are renting and finding that rent is becoming hard to cover and power bills have been a very similar impact.  It is nearly impossible for a lot of young Australians I know to find a place without having to band together with a group of people often whom they don’t really know and might not necessarily feel safe with just because they can’t afford to live on their own, bringing this back to previous things I think that if you’re someone who is a risk, who has a mental health condition or is gay or transgender, or has a disability that can put you in a position of vulnerability that you don’t want to be in I guess.

Peter Greco: Yes, all those things can be tied in together with mental illness as well, then you’ve got the stress of daily life that can all impact upon a person’s life too.

Madeline McCaul: Yes feed it can all feed into each other and feed the cycle as well sometimes.

Peter Greco: Obviously the Dignity party’s main objective to get Kelly Vincent re-elected into the upper house, what about from a personal point of view what sort of things are you going to do at least to make an impact upon the Dignity Party in the seat of Cheltenham, may give Jay Weatherill something to worry about, maybe give him a sleepless night or two.

Madeline McCaul: I want to take advantage of it as a high profile seat, one where there will be a lot of media attention, and I’ll try and get the Dignity message in that space. I’ve been hoping to get around to doing some doorknocking soon, to talk to people and tell them a bit about Kelly if they’re not aware of the work Kelly is doing, explain and hopefully get the on board because I think she’s such a breath of fresh air in parliament.

Peter Greco: Well, as I said we’ve spoken to Kelly many times and she certainly seems to be someone who really gets it as the saying goes and I guess we’re probably too close to it, in terms of getting a feel of what the general public thinks of Kelly and the Dignity Party in general and I suppose it won’t be until March that we find out exactly. What about the cut and thrust of it, have you enjoyed – well I assume the few meetings you’ve had with the dignity party and other candidates talking about ways to approach the campaign, have you enjoyed that side of it?

Madeline McCaul: Yes, it’s not really something I have done before but it’s been a really great experience, working with a big group of diverse people, towards a unified goal, it’s been very uplifting.

Peter Greco: yes we’ve spoken to a couple of candidates and we will speak to more in the next 4 months or so and we’re certainly finding out that it’s a very diverse range of people who have put their hats in the ring and that’s the sort of stuff that society is made of, that maybe you don’t want your generic lawyer or the person that has been involved with the union movement all their life to be saying that they are going to put their hand up to be elected, you want people from a diverse background as well, that have had lived experience of that.

Madeline McCaul: I think very much that the fact that there is so many people from so many walks of life that I’ve been meeting and so many different stories that I’ve heard, people I’ve met that might not have in other circumstances, it’s just felt like there’s this broad support for the Dignity Party message.

Peter Greco: Well, we wish you well, congratulations on having a go, I think a lot of us sit back and complain and whinge about why isn’t the government doing this or why is this happening, there is very few of us that actually try and do something about it, and you’ve done that, and for that you should be congratulated. We wish you well, and who knows it might be Madeline McCaul MP for the seat of Cheltenham.

Madeline McCaul: Well, I hope so I’m going to work as hard as I can to make that a possibility.

Peter Greco: Perhaps you’ll grant us the first interview when you get elected. Terrific, good luck Madeline, appreciate your time.

Madeline McCaul: Thank you.

Peter Greco: That’s Madeline McCaul who’s the Dignity Party’s Candidate for the seat of Cheltenham, for the March election, coming up very quickly.  As I’ve said before we’ll be talking to more candidates who’ve put their name in the ring in the run for parliament, and if you don’t put your hand up you won’t get elected. We’ll certainly follow their progress and as to the upper house you’d have to think Kelly Vincent will be a very good chance.