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Interview with Martyn Abbott, Labor

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Thursday 14th April 3pm

Q: How old are you, if that’s not too personal?

Martyn: I'm 25.

Q: Have you lived in Goldstein all your life?

Martyn: I have, not that I remember it very much, I have a couple of memories, we were living in Caulfield South, then in Sandringham and now in Beaumaris, for the past, ooh, too long.

Grace: Oh! Really? I live in Sandringham.

Q: How long have you been working as a politician?

Martyn: Um, that's an interesting one, I don't think I would consider myself a politician. I haven't actually been elected to any office, I mean, that's the hope. Right now I'm just a candidate and before that I was just a public servant and various other jobs. I would say I've been a candidate from about the start of the year, so, 4 or 5 months.

Q: When you were my age what did you want to be when you grew up?

Martyn: I believe I wanted to be a doctor, I think a GP.

Grace: I kind of want to be a doctor, but I also want to be a vet because I love dogs.

Martyn: That makes sense, vets are cool.

Q: What was your most rewarding job?

Martyn: I think all of my jobs that I did, whether it was in hospitality or delivering supplies for schools, the packs for students, all the stationery and what not, was rewarding, working in construction and financial services, but I think when I was working in the public sector, in the parliament of Victoria, so working for the State Government, was probably the most rewarding as I got to help people who were struggling throughout the pandemic, as well as help deliver a lot of the education funding that the government I was working for delivered. Right around the corner from where I live, Beaumaris Secondary School was built and has doubled it's capacity, and I think, especially for me, a couple of years ago at the start of the 2020 school year, the primary school that I went to, Sandringham Primary, burnt down in a fire. It was a very old school so that was devastating but to be able to follow along and be involved in the rebuild, it just opened at the start of term 1 this year, and to see all the students going back, that was probably the most rewarding thing I've done while working.

Q: What are your hobbies and interests?

Martyn: I like baking, cooking, going for runs, I'm a bit of a book worm so I read a fair amount. When I'm going for runs I listen to audio books, so if you count that as reading... [smiles].... and I'm a bit of a film buff.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Martyn: [Laughs] As someone running for office I'm not sure I want to alienate any voters, er... I'm a dog person, we've had curly coated retrievers, big black curly dogs, sweetest things, my entire life, or for all my memory. My partner wants a cat so I guess I'm going to have to become a cat person too, that only seems fair, but I'd guess I'd say I'm a dog person.

Grace: I love dogs, I have two of them.

Martyn: My dog's name is Earl. What are your dogs called?

Grace: Sugar and Honey.

Martyn: Nice!

Q: Do you like children?

Martyn: Yes, a lot more now that I'm not a child [laughs]. But honestly, yes, children are great, they're usually a bit mischievous, I'm sure you are, but they're also inquisitive and honest and insightful in a way that adults aren't. They kind of don't have all of these experiences that adults have that shape their world views so you can get a lot of honestly, genuinely insightful opinions from young people and I mean, I'm hoping to start a family soon and children, they are - you are, the future so everything I do is in inspiration of making the world better for you, and hopefully my own children, one day.

Q: Do you think children should have a vote?

Martyn: I would say, because obviously our voting age is 18, but even throughout this campaign and when I was under 18 I met a lot of people that were very switched on, I mean, you seem very switched on, and I think considering a lot of the things that are being decided on today, they're going to affect my generation a lot. I mean, I wouldn't say I'm old but 25 is obviously a lot older than 8 [smiles], but your generation is basically going to have to live with the decisions that the adults today decide, how they vote, what type of people they elect, but that's going to affect you so I feel that lowering the voting age to 16 perhaps, and engaging more with even younger people especially around policies and things in the world that affect them is important, so yeah I think children and young people should have more of a say. Part of that I think would be lowering the voting age, another part of it would be having a youth engagement model, having a Minister for Youth that engages young people would be important.

Q: Voting is compulsory in Australia. Do you think that’s the best way?

Martyn: Yes, I think so. I think in Australia voting isn't a privilege it's an obligation. We all have an obligation to ourselves but also each other to have a say in who is going to represent us and to have a say in whether those who are already representing us have done a good job. I think it's a responsibility of all of us as part of a community, as part of the same society, the same country, that we all have our say and I think it makes our democracy stronger if everyone has a say, even those that may not be too interested in politics, the fact is that it affects them the same way as the person that reads every press release a politician puts out. I think everyone's say is equally as valuable and I think it means that politicians and governments have to cater to what is in the best interests of all society if all society has a vote. Compulsory voting enables that so I think it's quite important.

Grace: So do I.

Q: Would you like to be prime minister one day?

Martyn: [Laughs] I think it's something probably everyone has thought about at some stage at least to the extent of "what would I do if I was in charge?" especially when you see a prime minister do something that you disagree with or not address something that you think needs to be addressed. But my motivation for running and getting involved in politics has always been about achieving a result that betters people's living conditions, that creates more opportunities for people, that safeguards the future, but I wouldn't say right now that I'm really thinking about being Prime Minister in any length into the future. Right now I'm just trying to make a difference wherever I can.

Q: Ok, well if you were going to be one, which year would you be one?

Martyn: [Laughs] Well right now I'm committed to electing Anthony Albanese as our Prime Minister so sometime after he has retired, I imagine, so hopefully not for a while.

Q: Why should someone vote for you?

Martyn: Well, besides my amazing personality... [laughs]. I am standing as the Labor candidate in Goldstein, and for me that means that I am standing for a positive vision for the future, and a better future for Goldstein, that means creating more opportunities, addressing a lot of the issues that haven't been addressed in the past nine years and striving for a better future with a better government and I am the candidate for the only party that is an alternative government for the current government so if people want the kind of change that Labor is advocating for on climate action and integrity and creating opportunities for the future them I am the candidate for that.

Grace: Ok, well you sound great!

Martyn: Thank you.

Q: Why do you think your party is the best party?

Martyn: I believe that the Labor party (I'm a bit of a history nerd, that's actually a hobby that I didn't mention) in my estimation is the party that achieves and implements reforms that change our society and last for generations, whether it's under the Rudd and Gillard governments being world leaders in Climate Action and putting us in a world leading position out of the financial crisis or implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme which transformed the lives of many people including people close to me, my own family has been affected by the NDIS in a very positive way, but going further back Superannuation was brought in under Labor, the ABC was brought in by a Labor government, Medicare was brought in by a Labor government and these are lasting reforms that, I think, genuinely improve our society for generations to come, and at this election, if we're talking locally, a Labor government will invest $11.7 million into the Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve which is going to have a massive positive impact on our community. We're going to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030, putting us on track for net zero by 2050, and by 2030 making 82% of energy renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuel. At the same time we are going to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new, green economy while making power bills almost $300 a year cheaper. At the same time we are going to be reforming aged care so that older Australians are treated with the dignity they rightfully deserve, making childcare more affordable, protecting Medicare and the NDIS, creating more TAFE places, more university places, creating apprenticeships and start up opportunities for young people so that they can have a lasting career, not just jobs that get them by, but an actual opportunity to create a career that they're passionate about. Creating affordable housing is something I'm passionate about, people need a safe place to live, starting a family, getting a career, these things can't be done if you don't have a house to live in. And things like an indigenous voice to parliament and an integrity commission and the youth engagement model that I mentioned including a Minister of Youth. These are things that a Labor government will achieve, that's why I think Labor is the best party at this election.

Grace: [Silence]

Martyn: [Smiling] Sorry if that was a bit much, I have a lot of policy stuff I like to say and I can't really stop myself as there's so much to talk about.

Grace: [Smiling] That's ok!

Q: What do you think are the most important things in Goldstein over the next few years?

Martyn: Over the next few years because it will define what we can achieve in the next 30 years, is climate change. We need strong action on climate change, that's probably number 1 and that affects locally protecting the bay and our natural environment. But aged care and childcare are really important, a lot of people are looking to start families in this electorate and I think everyone knows someone who is in residential care, and I think that's really important. Cost of living is affecting everyone across the country and I think even in Goldstein people are seeing the effects of rising cost of living pressures. And I think for a lot of young people, creating opportunities for the future, which includes making sure we have a future through climate action but also making sure there are a lot of opportunities in education and employment is really important.

Q: I am growing up in Sandringham. How do you think growing up in Sandringham helps you be the best representative for Goldstein?

Martyn: I think when I went to school in Sandringham, I went to Sandy Primary school and Sandy Secondary School, and they were great schools that had a lot of passionate teachers, obviously at the time I wasn't so excited about my teachers, but looking back they were really passionate, hardworking teachers, as were a lot of people that I met growing up in Goldstein, a lot of hardworking people that cared about the environment, they cared about their family as well as a lot of people around the area where I lived were in social housing, so I went to the same school as them, I hung out with them so I met people from a broad range of the economic spectrum and being a member of the Jewish community myself, living at what is the heart of Melbourne's Jewish Community, in Goldstein and across in Macnamara, if you know Federal Electorate boundaries (which I don't expect you to), that really affected my upbringing as well.

Q: What is something that has changed from when you were growing up that you want back again?

Martyn: The first thing that comes to mind, I'm pretty sure that Bananas in Pyjamas is CG or animated now? There used to be people in costumes, that was kind of nice.

Grace: Oh yes, now they're just the cartoons and there are three bears and there is a dog or something?

Martyn: I have a lot of nostalgia for those old shows. In all seriousness I like to look to the future, although there were great things when I was growing up I'm more focused on making sure there are more opportunities going forward, that our society is more equitable and more forward looking and that we're all helping each other and helping make the world a better place. When I was growing up, maybe from about your age forward, we were leading the world in climate action, I felt like there was a lot of direction in trying to make things a lot better, for example, for indigenous people, for LGBTIQ+ people, in fact actually LGBTIQ+, I feel like we're doing better than we ever have in terms of representing them and treating them equitably and protecting them from discrimination but when I was growing up there was a bit of, at least for myself, I don't know if this was really representative of everyone, I had a real sense of optimism about the future. I felt like we were actually taking action to tackle climate change and we were making the world a better place, as I said, and I really want to make sure that young people, people like you, can feel like things are getting better in the world and that everything they do, even small things can help make a difference.

Grace:That was my last question. Thank you for your time.

Martyn: I want to thank you. This was really fun and you did a great job as an interviewer. It's really inspiring to see someone your age being so engaged with matters like a federal election, so I want to thank you for even doing this.

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