Greens senator Larissa Walters and candidate for Flynn Jaiben Baker.
Greens senator Larissa Walters and candidate for Flynn Jaiben Baker.

20+ QUESTIONS: How the Greens' Jaiben Baker responded

Name: Jaiben Baker

Age: 43

Suburb: Monto

What is your professional background?

Environmental Advisor, Forestry Horticulture and Agricultural Worker, Farmer

What do you think are the biggest issues facing the region? And, what would you do to address these issues?

The biggest issues for our region are jobs, services and the environment. I am campaigning for greater public investment in training and infrastructure to create new jobs for our region and give our workforce the skills they need to compete in the changing economy. We need to transition from fossil fuels to renewables to create the clean energy jobs of the future and protect our environment from the devastating impact of climate change. I am also fighting for better services for our region - dental care and mental health into Medicare, proper funding of schools, free TAFE and university, cheaper electricity through a publicly-owned national energy retailer, and an upgrade to the NBN to increase internet speed and accessibility.

What made you interested in politics?

Like a lot of people, I'm sick and tired of the major parties and their lies, false promises and self-serving interests. I got involved in politics to show people there is an alternative to the major parties.

What makes you the right candidate for the region?

I grew up in this region, I live here with my wife and daughters, and I want our community to survive and thrive into the future. Too many politicians do what's best for themselves and their corporate donors. My campaign doesn't take any corporate donations and I will always put the interests of our community first.

What should be done to ensure Queensland has reliable, affordable electricity?

We need to create a publicly-owned national energy retailer to compete with private power companies, stop price gouging and drive down our out-of-control power bills. We also need to drive investment in renewables to create new jobs in clean energy and provide cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity.

What do you think Canberra doesn't understand about the Flynn electorate?

People in our region want the same things as everybody else - a decent job, access to essential services, clean air, and enough money to pay the bills and enjoy a good life. The problem is that politicians from the major parties prioritise the interests of their corporate donors over those of us in the community.

Do you think Adani's Carmichael Mine should go ahead?

No. I am opposed to the Adani mine because it will devastate our farming communities by sucking up billions of litres of groundwater and making our drought crisis even worse. It will also further contribute to the destruction of our environment, particularly the Great Barrier Reef and the 64,000 jobs it provides to the local economy.

What will you do to create jobs for the region, with or without Adani?

I want to see a greater investment in renewables to create the clean energy jobs of the future. I also want to see a greater investment in training and infrastructure to bring new jobs in our region and give people the skills they need to compete in the changing economy.

What will you do to make a strong economy within the region and the state?

We need an economy that works for everyone. That means ensuring that everyone can find a decent job and has access to quality health care, education and affordable housing. We also want to make sure that no one is left behind in our economy, which means guaranteeing free or low-cost access to all essential community services such as disability services, childcare, mental health and aged care services.

How can we increase tourism in the region?

We can increase tourism in our region by protecting our environment. We especially need to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which provides 64,000 jobs to our local economy. Our Reef is being destroyed by coral bleaching caused by the effects of climate change. That's why I oppose the Adani coal mine and am fighting for clean energy which will sustain our natural environment.

Gladstone's resources sector provides a large amount of royalties to the state and federal governments. How will you ensure that money is returned to the region?

The natural resources of our region belong to all of us, not big corporations. I want to make sure that billion dollar mining and resource corporations pay their fair share tax so that we can invest in more jobs for our region, free TAFE and university, dental care and mental health into Medicare, improved essential services, cheaper electricity, and more affordable housing for all.

What should be done to address climate change, and protect the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef and the 64,000 jobs in brings to our local economy is under threat from the devastating impact of climate change, which will be made worse by the Adani coal mine. That's why we need to stop Adani, phase out fossil fuels, and transition to clean energy to tackle climate change and protect our Reef.

Will emissions reduction targets affect the long-term viability of BSL and other energy-intensive businesses within the region? Why/Why not?

I want to see a fair and just transition for workers in the emissions-intensive industries to a new clean energy industry.

The Observer's recent FutureCQ event revealed community leaders want to see investment to create better sporting facilities. What would you do to facilitate this?

I believe government has a responsibility to ensure equitable access to affordable sport and physical recreation facilities and services. I would support the introduction of new sporting facilities so long as there is consultation with the community and appropriate efforts made to minimise ecological impact.

Demographer Bernard Salt's analysis of ABS population data found an increase in youth leaving the region. What can the Federal Government do to encourage youth to stay, or encourage others to move to the Gladstone region?

Many young people leave our region because of the lack of educational and employment opportunities. We need a major public investment in training and infrastructure to create jobs for our young people. We also need to make TAFE and university free to give young people the skills and knowledge they need to compete in our changing economy.

Mr Salt's analysis also found there will be an increase in seniors living in Gladstone. What can the Federal Government do to ensure Gladstone has the facilities an ageing population requires?

We need to ensure that our seniors have access to high quality care and to give them the choice as to whether they want to stay at home or live in residential care. Our plan calls for additional funding for home care packages and greater investment in residential care to ensure seniors are given increased care. We also want better support, pay and training for our aged-care staff.

What will you do to provide the region with more health services?

We need to make sure that our health care system remains free and accessible to everyone. Our plan calls for dental care and mental health to be covered by Medicare, reduced hospital waiting lists, better support and training for health care professionals, and more preventative care and programs to address the rising epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in our community.

What do you plan to do about the ice problem in Central Queensland?

We need to treat drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue. People with drug and substance abuse problems need better access to treatment and recovery facilities to beat their addiction.

What should be done to make regional airfares more affordable, and to encourage airlines to add new flight routes to regional airports?

The best way to ensure more people visit and come to live in our region is by growing our economy through more jobs, better services, and the protection of our environment.

What is the most common misconception about you?

I think there's a common misconception that Greens candidates like me are against farmers. That's not true. I am a farmer and I grew up in a farming community. I also believe that we cannot ignore the devastating impact that climate change is having on our rural community such as causing drought and environmental destruction. I want to see us tackle climate change to protect our environment, combat the drought, and ensure our farming communities remain strong well into the future.

Do you support the construction of a new coal-fired power station in CQ? Why?

I do not support the construction of new coal-fired power stations. Emissions from coal are the biggest contributor to climate change, which is destroying our planet and jeopardising our future. We need to phase out coal and invest in renewables to tackle climate change, create thousands of clean energy jobs, and lower our power bills. I support an orderly and just transition from coal to clean energy so that coal workers can get better, cleaner jobs.

How would you make housing more accessible for first home buyers?

We need to eliminate negative gearing and other unfair tax breaks which rig the housing market in favour of wealthy property investors and against regular people wanting to buy their first home. Our plan will also invest in public housing so that everyone can have an affordable home to live in and give more rights for renters.

How would you tackle high fuel prices in CQ?

When it comes to our energy needs, we need to take a long-term approach by ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars and kickstarting the transition to electric vehicles which are cheaper, more reliable, and cleaner for our environment. We can also make electric vehicles more affordable by removing import tariffs and waiving registration fees for first three years of ownership. We also need to invest in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

How could we better utilise public transport in CQ?

We need to stop funding costly toll road projects and invest in the creation of a better, cheaper and more reliable public transport system. We need to get critical public transport projects like bus and rail services out of the planning stages and into construction. This will help facilitate growth in our region and get people where they need to go.

What should we do to support scientific research and increase innovation?

We need to invest in science, research and innovation, improve access to information, foster international collaboration, and protect key research institutions that will transform our economy and make Australia a global leader in new technology. This will also help us respond to the challenges of technological advancement and automation and plan for the future of work.

Do you support shifting a government department or military base to CQ? How would you make it happen?

I think planning decisions should always be done in consultation with the community, and by carefully weighing up the social, economic and environmental costs and benefits.

What plans do you have to better support small business?

Our comprehensive plan will help small businesses reduce their tax bill and lower the cost of expanding to create jobs, increase investment, and raise wages through a 110% wages credit. We will also help small business lower their energy costs through a national energy retailer and allow them to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to cover the cost of investment in assets or capital works that will improve energy efficiency.

What is your approach towards taxation? Where would you cut or impose taxes?

Our tax system is rigged in favour of big corporations and against ordinary people. We need to crack down on multi-national corporations who avoid paying tax and make them pay their fair share. That way, we can fund the things that will improve the lives of ordinary people, such as free TAFE and university, dental care covered by Medicare, affordable housing, and investment in renewables to create clean energy jobs.