Lisa Bentley is no ordinary mother of two boys with a supportive husband. She oozes passion to make things right and has committed herself to serving her local community. She is saddened by a sense of loss within the community. A sense that we don’t care anymore about what happens around us and we are becoming to isolated, insular and fearful of the future.
“When I was young we were taught respect. Respect for our elders, respect for our community and respect for each other which all seems lost within the white noise of the screeching media and the polarisation of discussion these days,” Lisa explained at our discussion over coffee during a break from working the pre-polling voting booth in Altona. “I just get the sense that we just accept what we are told and never question or seek the truth anymore.”
Unlike all the other candidates for Gellibrand, Lisa was born and lived most of her life in Williamstown. She was raised in a single mother family and understands intimately the many struggles families have to provide security and a good education for their children.
“When I was young, we respected the institutions in our community. We respected community leaders, we definitely respected our teachers, and we voluntarily worked to help each other. I don’t see much of that these days, and it’s a shame.”
“I am a very positive person and my business is in helping others achieve the many things they want to do in life, but maybe they are just a little unsure how to achieve them. From these client discussions, I learn what worries people and it saddens me that we as a community are not prepared to work for each other as much as we used to. There is a touch of cynicism in the community but as yet not a positive zest to make a change.”
“You only have to listen or read the media to see how journalists’ own biases from their politics influence what they talk or write about. Of course, if we gullibly accept their view then nothing will ever change. I wish for a more balanced debate about issues rather than the aggressive shouting we see and hear on social media and even in the street.”
“What ever happen to respecting each other’s opinion and finding a balance?”
Lisa has lost faith with current politicians who seem to only want to talk in the negative about their opponents and often don’t consider the impact their decisions are having on the community. She considers many are just career politicians toeing the party line. This is her motivation to want to serve her community and she is standing for the United Australia Party asking her community to consider something different by supporting her.
“When I first started voting I followed my family’s influence and like everyone else didn’t pay much attention and just went into the polling booth voting for the party my family always supported. But, as I got older, I began to listen and watch what was happening and I wasn’t happy. The party which I thought worked for me did not and seemed more interested in dolling out taxpayer money rather than building strong communities.”
“So, I joined the other party and soon learned the dark art of politics was no better than what I already knew. I learned that it wasn’t about merit and working hard, but more about who knew who and what deals could be done.”
Lisa joined the United Australia Party as it seemed to provide a credible alternative. She immediately felt resistance from many people she still holds dear. “My friends and family support me, but some questioned why. It’s not until I point out many of the challenges we have in the community and the manner the major parties take us all for granted that they begin to understand.”
“I’ve learnt to have a thick skin in politics and I’ve also understood it’s okay to say no to people. There is a lot of rejection, judgement and negativity in politics and if my experiences are an example, it’s no wonder more women don’t put up their hand to serve. Politics is not for the faint hearted and you have to have a very positive attitude no matter what comes at you. So, I create my own sunshine.”
Lisa shakes her head when the issue of career politicians is raised, “I am standing for election to serve the community, my community, I’m not standing to keep a seat warm and wait for promotion. There are things to be done in Gellibrand, yet you wouldn’t know it from the politicians who haven’t achieved much for us in the past.”
Lisa identifies three major issues she has learned during the Gellibrand campaign.
“To be your own boss in your own business these days is almost impossible. Politicians talk a great deal about supporting small business, but they keep bringing in laws and regulations to stifle them. Small business is the core of our economy and yet these ‘mum and dad’ businesses are finding it too hard these days.”
Lisa’s second issue which worries her is the lack of attention and action by local politicians in the area of mental health, especially within our elderly population. “These folks have worked hard all their lives and yet look at the way we as a community treat them. Now this group is being used as an election slogan with false promises. We have serious mental health issues with older Australians and yet little attention is made towards them. Will we ever hear a politician talk about this insidious issue?”
The third issue for Lisa is the manner the community ignores the needs of teachers and the disrespect that seems to be growing toward them in schools. “Standards are lowering, and yet we have record spending – how is that possible? Teachers are our most important asset, yet we ask them to buy their own supplies to help them teach our children. It’s ridiculous, but do we hear politicians argue for them? Not in these safe seats around here we don’t.”
“I think it’s actually time for people to stop complaining about politics and politicians and make a change, especially in this safe seat of Gellibrand. They can see how independents in other seats have changed Canberra for the good; so why not vote against another career politician and vote for an authentic local who cares about this community?”
Gellibrand has had long serving politicians from the same party for decades. There has been little government funding spent in the area for the community when compared to marginal seats elsewhere; perhaps it’s time to reflect on the two party political structure for Gellibrand and consider other options.