Gamers 4 Croydon Candidates Answer Your Questions

The Gamers 4 Croydon candidates to stand in the upcoming South Australian election were announced last week. They agreed to tackle whatever questions Kotaku readers could throw their way. Here’s what happened.

Kat Nicholson and Chris Prior are the candidates running under the Gamers 4 Croydon banner in the Lower and Upper House, respectively. Nicholson is tasked with going head-to-head with ALP incumbent Michael Atkinson, the South Australian Attorney-General who has held the seat of Croydon for twenty years. Prior is gunning for the Legislative Council, which means anyone across the state can vote for him and express their desire to see video game classification overhauled.

Both Kat and Chris went through all the questions you asked last week. We’ll kick things off with your questions (in bold) around videogame classification and their campaign against Michael Atkinson. Then we’ll cover off your questions related to other policy issues.

I would like to know more about the campaign in general, like how many door knockings and flyers being handed out, just an update on the details of the campaign and how much awareness has been raised within Croydon?

Chris: The doorknocking and letter dropping is just starting to get underway. Already we’ve printed almost 5000 fliers destined for Croydon, and covered close to a thousand houses. The response from local residents has so far been very positive. We’re already coming across locals who’ve heard of us from elsewhere. Further afield, we have posters going up targeting the upcoming festival crowds, along with ongoing negotiations for myriad other promotional opportunities.

I like the fact they are putting a woman, it will make it harder for our pal Mick to stereotype gamers but if she is still a student, isn’t she still a bit too young?

Kat: Firstly, I’d just like to clarify that I am not an undergrad student; I’m currently studying a Masters degree. Secondly, I am aware that some are likely to consider me too young no matter what I do or say and I have accepted that. It is their right to vote how they want, for whatever reasons they want. However, I definitely do not believe that I am too young to represent the people of Croydon and I think that most voters will judge the candidates based on the individual, not their age.

Chris: “Too young” is very subjective. In recent years South Australians have elected a number of people in their early 20’s to the Australian Senate. We feel that Kat is the best person for the job, regardless of age or gender.

Do you think the name you chose for your party is alienating? I Personally feel that it kinda is, but id like to hear the logic behind why you chose the name etc.

Kat: Well, the name was chosen back when the G4C founder was still running around getting enough people to sign up. I don’t think it will alienate voters – we’re visibly more than just a one-policy party. Although our name might give that initial impression, our actions during the campaign will prove otherwise. I’m already in contact with a number of community groups and lobbyists regarding local issues in Croydon. As they say, actions speak louder than words.

How does G4C plan to ensure their political marketing of their party appeals to all members of their electorate, avoiding being brushed aside in the minds of voters who might dismiss the party initially as not in their interest?

Chris: Essentially, this is a problem faced by any party. They key element to this for us is getting the message out there, which we are doing with letter drops, doorknocking and talking to people on the street. We are also speaking to people in the mainstream media – many of whom have been supportive – to get media coverage of our campaign.

The lesser issue is about policy. From the hundreds of people we’ve spoken to in the community, the majority have been supportive of our policies and goals. There is a distinct lack of satisfaction with the level of representation given by people whose loyalty is to their party before their constituents, as well as a lot of anger about lack of transparency and accountability in government. We stand out from the major parties in this regard because we’re offering an alternative to that, something they can’t do because it’s not in their best interests.

Who will your preferences go to on the ballot?

Kat: It’s too early to say yet. Preferences will be announced on our website closer to the election.

With Atkinson appealing to general misinformation regarding games, none of which is based in fact, has your progress in gaining support for your party outside gaming communities been difficult?

Chris: Not really. We have a number of non-gamers as party members who joined solely on the strength of our position on R18+ for games. In our doorknocking of the Croydon electorate we have had an overwhelmingly positive response. We feel that his hyperbole actually makes it easier to convince people of our position, given that his arguments are bordering on ridiculous.

What, if any, local media has contacted Gamers 4 Croydon on its own, to get more information to their readership about you?

Kat: I probably shouldn’t go into specifics, but don’t worry – you’ll see very soon!

Chris: We have already had one piece on us in the Sunday Mail, and have been contacted by a number of other outlets both local and national, including two national TV shows. Given the amount of criticism being levelled at Mr Atkinson and the SA Government generally, we’re certain to get much more coverage as the campaign heats up.

What are the chances of G4C challenging Atkinson to a live debate during the campaign?

Chris: Obviously, we’d love to have Mr Atkinson out from behind his media minders and be able to confront him live. Given that he’s demonstrated he wants to play dirty, and would rather demonise us than engage with us, we don’t like the chances of that happening. That doesn’t mean we won’t try our hardest though.

With Atkinson appealing to general misinformation regarding games, none of which is based in fact, has your progress in gaining support for your party outside gaming communities been difficult?

Kat: Quite the opposite, actually. Our politicians have grossly underestimated the level of public interest in the current rating situation. Support for the implementation of an R18+ rating is widespread and certainly not confined to the gaming community or any other particular subculture. Both sides seem to have forgotten about all the casual gamers out there – you don’t have to attend LAN parties in order to know enough about games to recognize what is true and what is pure misinformation. From the positive responses I have been receiving, it seems that almost everyone who has ever played a console or PC game agrees that change is necessary. Parents of children and teenagers are especially supportive when we speak to them about it – they want to be able to adequately monitor the suitability of the game content that their children are exposed to.

Given Atkinson fights dirty, and has a wealth of resources available, do you think a grass roots approach will succeed?

Chris: A grass-roots campaign is the only option we have, and as such, we’re going to make every dollar and every minute count in the lead up to the election. It’s easy to acknowledge the wealth and resource disparity between ourselves and the member for Croydon, but dwelling on that will prevent us from running the best campaign possible. We’re in this race to win the seat of Croydon. That’s always been the aim, and that’s what we’re all working towards. The more support we get from the community to help us in this most gargantuan of efforts, the better.

While ideally we’d like to see Kat in parliament, any extra pressure we place on Mr Atkinson will increase the swing against him. We’re also confident that he will not receive priority on preferences from most other parties – something that contributed almost half of his lead at the last election – so he’s not quite as safe as he’d like people to believe.

What are the criminal acts and dirty tricks you guys are planning?

Chris: None, unless keeping people informed of Mr Atkinson’s past political scandals, ongoing political scandals and general disregard for the democratic process (all on public record) is criminal.

If you fail as Atkinson predicts, how will you stop him from using that failure as a political tool to further hurt the R18+ rating for games ‘movement’?

Kat: I may not win in the seat of Croydon, but I have no doubt that I will exceed more than the 1% of votes that Mr Atkinson claims I will “struggle” to receive. When I dent his margin, it will undeniably prove that the lack of an R18+ rating is indeed a political issue – and one that can cost an MP votes. Moreover, when it is demonstrated to the federal and state governments in Australia that opposing an R18+ rating is politically risky, it is likely that it will be come more difficult for any individual politicians who try to single-handedly stand in the way.

Chris: He has said he expects we’ll not get more than 1% of the vote. We will, and that will haunt him. In the event that he retains his seat, it is almost certain it will be despite a (significant) swing against him, something that will put him on unsteady ground when it comes to ‘the people have spoken’ type rhetoric. Similarly, unless he campaigns solely on this issue, any attempts to claim it as vindication, or a ‘referendum’ on the issue, would be equally dubious. Regardless of the outcome we feel it is better to be proactive than wait for someone else to do something, and it will at the very least push the issue into the public sphere. Thus far Atkinson has been able to get away with his position because the deficit in the classification system is not common knowledge. When we’re done, it will be.

I support what you are doing. However I am concerned that Atkinson seeks to turn this into a national referendum on the R18+ issue. Given that Croydon is a very safe Labor seat, and according to Wiki requires a 27% turn against the incumbent seat holder Atkinson to change parties. You are faced with an enormous task, however should Atkinson be successful in keeping his seat and seeks to continue with his censorship regime, what post election strategies does G4C have in store?

Chris: The legislation which gives Mr Atkinson disproportionate power over the classification system is federal legislation. Naturally, that means that a national campaign would be a good next step. Even if Kat is not elected, we’re also running a candidate for the upper house. While Croydon is winnable, the party thinks it’s likely that I’ll be elected to the Legislative Council, given our broad policy base and focus on accountability in government – a hot topic this election. A “gamers’ rights” candidate in parliament will at the very least force governments across the country to think very carefully about their positions.

Chris also took the time to answer a number of your questions that addressed broader policy topics not confined to the world of videogames and classification.

How do you plan to introduce an Independent Commission Against Corruption in a State where successive governments have been very much against this type of bureaucracy? How will you propose a ban on political advertising when successive governments and oppositions have been paying lip service to this notion, but have increased the amount of public monies spent on advertising?

Chris: For all the ideological arguments about any issue, votes talk louder than anything else – even money. There is precedent for the current government to make concessions in a purely cynical effort to save face and avoid losing votes, and there is no reason to suspect any future government would be any different. People don’t like corruption, they don’t like misuse of public funds, they don’t like being lied to, and governments don’t like it when too many people are unhappy. Our job would be to make sure that people don’t forget any corruption, lies or misuse of funds.

If our campaigning hasn’t reached far enough that an individual voter doesn’t know who we are and what we stand for, it is unlikely that he or she would vote for us anyway. People don’t vote for parties that they’ve never heard of. However, if a voter is familiar with G4C then it is pessimistic to think that whether or not they like our name would be the sole basis of their decision. The intelligence of South Australian voters deserves more credit than that!

How much will retrofitting homes with water tanks cost?

Chris: The state government already provides a rebate of up to $1000, with the federal government providing up to $500 for the installation of rainwater tanks. That would easily cover the cost of an individual installing a 5000L rainwater tank, and require no more money than already allocated. Access to economies of scale in purchase and installation would increase storage capacity for the same price. It is also worth noting that this would only be implemented for homes outside an area covered by stormwater recycling

How much will expanding the storm water recycling scheme cost?

Chris: A government approved report indicated that up to 60GL per year could be provided to Adelaide by stormwater harvesting for $600-700 million. In contrast, the desalination plant to provide Adelaide with 100GL per year is set to cost almost $2 billion.

How much will the world’s largest solar farm cost? Where would it be located? How do you intend to get electricity from the farm to the grid?

Chris: The cost per kWh of large-scale solar farms under construction in the US is 6-8c per kWh, which is comparable to fossil fuels, and would become increasingly preferable with the introduction of a carbon tax or similar. The same plants are estimated to cost ~$900 per kW capacity. Replacing most or all of South Australia’s generation with a single plant would cost around $4 billion. Given our relative proximity to population centres in the Victoria and NSW, there is also significant potential for export of green power, to benefit the benefit of the local economy.

We feel that South Australia is ideally situated for solar power, given the amount of wide open desert we have to go along with the more hospitable regions. Naming a specific site would require the funds of a parliamentary party, which we obviously don’t have – yet. So far as distribution goes: power lines. As much as people talk about transmission loss, high-voltage lines lose very little in transmission. The maximum cost-effective distance for transmission is well beyond what would be required in SA.

I should note that we’re not proposing this be wholly government-funded. The policy title was a bit vague in that regard, and has been amended.

I’d like to thank Kat and Chris for taking the time to answer all your questions. And also a big thanks to everyone who submitted a question last week. I hope you got the answers you were after.