AN independent, out gay candidate standing for the seat of Braitling in the upcoming Northern Territory elections in August faces Chief Minister Adam Giles who holds the seat and four other contenders.
Two weeks ago, Phil Walcott launched his campaign at the Yubu Napa art gallery with a close circle friends — including his partner of 15 years Glenn — from his 22-year network, first as a gay B&B operator and later as a psychologist.
“Currently, NT’s Speaker Kezia Purick is lesbian and Labor’s Namatjira electorate candidate Chansey Paech is openly gay.
“I’ve been in ‘politics’ in one form or another since I was in high school but am yet to be elected as a sitting member at any level of government. As a social progressive, I was influenced by (former South Australian Premier) Don Dunstan and Gough Whitlam.
“Before moving to Alice 23 years ago, I was an active member of the Sydney-based Gay and Lesbian Teachers & Students (GAYTAS) group when I lived there and an active Mardi Gras volunteer for many years,” Walcott continued.
“Being in gay businesses… meant dealing in the politics of town, other businesses and local, territory governments.”
Walcott, who has previous contested for NT Parliament, added he took the plunge into politics because he felt territory constituents deserved better, as per his current campaign tag line “we deserve better”.
“I’m for transparency and integrity in government,” he said.
“My focus is on building the ‘unity’ in community, a model that brings together the people in a whole-of community, territory-wide approach.
“That means everyone who wishes to be involved irrespective of their sexual orientation.”
Walcott said that aside from renewable energy being the main focus of his campaign, he still hoped to address LGBTI issues, such as HIV and AIDS transmission rates and the lack of PReP availability in the NT, and cultural acceptance within Indigenous communities.
“I absolutely support PReP being made available in the NT,” he said.
“Northern Territory AIDS & Hepatitis Council has just submitted requests to NT Health Department and minister John Elferink for it.
“Homosexual behaviour in the Arrente, Warlpiri, Luritja and Pintubi Aboriginal culture is ‘tolerated’ rather than ‘accepted’,” Walcott continued.
“There are a number of Aboriginal people in town who identify across the LGBTI spectrum. For gay men, the behaviour is tolerated in young men but not accepted in older men.
“It’s a men who have sex with men (MSM) attitude rather than gay activity. Sistergirls and brotherboys is more a Top-End (Darwin and Tiwi Islands) thing.”
Walcott highlighted how Alice Springs Town Council has yet to debate the marriage equality like the growing number of other local governments around Australia, but said incumbent councillor Chansey Paech could bring it forward.
“The NT is a unicameral parliament, same as Queensland, which means there’s no upper house,” Walcott said.
“I want to become part of the 25-member parliament working together with whatever government of the day is elected.
“The ‘two party’ model is broken. I’m also pushing for a consensus government model which means all Lower House representatives are Independents without party-affiliation. Currently, the Northwest Territories in Canada is structured this way.”
The NT will head to the polls on August 27.