Actuary campaigns for ‘Better Bennelong’ in 2016 Election

With the date set for the Federal Election, actuary Martin Mulcare is ramping up his campaign to run as an independent candidate in the safe Liberal seat of Bennelong. He discusses how actuarial skills are guiding his campaign efforts and vision, as Australia grapples with housing affordability, health and economic challenges a week on from the Budget.

“Actuaries are not well known among the general public. But those who recognise the profession respond very positively”, says Martin, speaking from his experience of introducing himself to the extended community of late.

After qualifying as an Actuary in 1986, Martin spent the next 20 years in the financial services industry, working with small life insurers; consulting; and in a Chief Actuary role before transitioning to general management.

“My actuarial training has been the basis for this idea of coming up with evidence-based policies. Analysing data, making some sense of it, exploring options and coming up with recommendations is, in essence, my approach to policy,” he says.

Since 2005, Martin has worked as a facilitator and business adviser. He is also heavily involved in the profession through the Actuaries Institute.

“Most actuaries have a pretty good handle on project management so that’s pretty helpful for the campaigning side of what I’m doing here too,” he says.

“There’s also a strong tradition as professionals to seek peer review. I’ve run my campaign issues past many people from different disciplines and that’s been really helpful on things like brand, video, positioning, and websites.”

Like Helen McLeod, an actuary running against Josh Frydenberg in the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Kooyong, Victoria this election, Martin hopes to represent his community as well as his unique profession, in the public arena when he runs for the seat of Bennelong in the Federal election this year.

With a double dissolution election set for July 2, now is the time for bringing issues of national significance to the ‘kitchen table’. 


The importance of differentiation

Martin hopes to differentiate himself from the major parties by, of course, being independent, but also highly transparent with his voting actions.

He takes lessons from independent Cathy McGowan, who wrestled the regional Victorian seat of Indi from Sophie Mirabella as an independent in the 2013 election.

“People often ask ‘how does an independent vote when a party doesn’t tell them what to do?’ For every formal vote taken in parliament, Cathy McGowan posted on her website how she voted, how the government voted and how other non-major party members of government voted so it was very easy to see when she was disagreeing or agreeing with government and other non-major parties,” Martin says, adding that he plans to borrow this idea if elected.

Martin also plans to differentiate himself from smaller parties by not being a ‘single issues’ person. He will look to emulate Cathy’s concept of ‘kitchen table conversations’ which are “all about getting people to take an interest in issues and be informed,” he says. For example, Martin has asked the people of Bennelong to rank issues by importance (see below graph) and he has prepared ‘issues kits’ for individuals and community groups.

Bennelong Issues Graph

 The challenge is to come up with a reasonably understandable, coherent story about each of these big issues,” says Martin. “My main focus is providing forums and information that will encourage people in my area to have some well-founded discussions about these critical areas.”

At a time when Australia’s mining and manufacturing sector is in decline, Martin has three priority areas he sees as underpinning his election platform:

  • Innovation and education
  • Social Welfare
  • Taxation

A week on from the Budget, Martin believes there remains a lack of quality in the conversation around key issues facing the nation. The emphasis on a ‘political’ budget, especially with three-year terms, severely impedes our national progress. I think it is time to change the system. That’s why I’m standing.”


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