Ray Sawyer in West End

Ray Sawyer ran against Clive Palmer in the seat of Fairfax

In something of a surprise for the upcoming Griffith by-election, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) is standing a candidate new to Griffith, but not new to the KAP.

Ray Sawyer stood for the KAP in the division of Fairfax in 2013, a seat that was won by Clive Palmer, with Sawyer managing just 1.92 per cent of the vote.

While he does not live in the region, Mr Sawyer described himself as someone who has “strong connections with the Griffith electorate.”

His campaign literature revealed that he has operated a dance school for a number of years, which has given him “the opportunity to meet many locals and work with businesses and charities in the area.”

Mr Sawyer entered politics due to disenchantment.

“I became disillusioned by the major parties, realising they are in it to win and be in power, which is not representative of the local bloke or our democratic political system.”

Mr Sawyer told No Fibs that he and his wife run a wedding dance business, teaching couples how to dance the bridal waltz, for example. As Mr Sawyer has already been reported in the press as an opponent of same-sex marriage, I asked if he would be willing to teach a same-sex couple how to dance.

“If a couple came to me”, he said, “and they were the same sex and they wanted to learn to dance, I would have no problem teaching them to dance whatsoever.”

However, he said that a core principle of the party is that marriage is between a man and a woman. Mr Sawyer is a churchgoer and Sunday school teacher, and said: “You could say my upbringing has influenced my beliefs and that’s what attracted me to the Katter Australia Party.”

Among the issues of concern for the KAP in Griffith, Mr Sawyer listed the new runway at Brisbane airport.

“Air traffic is increasing and to some degree, while that is good for Brisbane tourism, it brings not only noise, it brings air pollution too,” he said, then added he would like to see a review commissioned on the airport noise issue, and would support ALP candidate Terri Butler’s idea of trialling a curfew.

He said that he is getting a good response from his recent door-knocking efforts. “A lot of people say they are worried about the way this country is going. They have issues with the 457 visas and the number of people coming to our country and taking good jobs that everyday Australians could no doubt do.”

He said that people are raising concerns about Australian industries closing and are worried about keeping their jobs and being able to support their families.

A key personal issue is the sale of public assets: “The government should be providing basic essential services, infrastructure, water, electricity, communications, health and transport. It is about providing affordable services for the community. Selling these public assets only promotes price gouging from private investors, and high costs are then unavoidable.”

He added that, “governments should provide suitable communications for us all, and that includes broadband.”

Like Labor and the Greens, Mr Sawyer is opposed to the idea of introducing a new Medicare fee. “I think a lot of people will take the attitude that they can’t afford to go to the doctor. It’s very important to encourage people to go the doctor when they need to,” he said.

I noted that apart from same-sex marriage, a number of his views seem to be consistent with his Labor Party opponent, and I asked whether the KAP had received any reaction to the preference deal which saw it list Mr Rudd last in 2013.

Mr Sawyer said the party “took a bit of a hammering” in the last election and that this time it would give supporters the option of preferencing either of the two major parties. He has listed independent candidate Travis Windsor at number two on this how-to-vote card.

The Katter’s Australian Party has a Facebook site and a website, and Mr Sawyer is new to Twitter, using the handle @RayWSawyer.

Reprinted with permission of No Fibs