Greens candidate Jason Ball has been preselected to recontest the once-safe Liberal seat of Higgins. Jesse Jones spoke with him about taking on Kelly O’Dwyer, bringing diversity to parliament, and climate change.

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Jason Ball may not have won the Melbourne seat of Higgins in his 2016 tilt, but his candidacy was enough to turn the once-safe Liberal seat into the only marginal federal Greens-Liberal contest in the country.

And this year, he’s back to fight for it again. The former Aussie Rules star and Young Australian of the Year for Victoria has been preselected to recontest Higgins, and he believes the time is right for the Greens win.

Ball says incumbent member Kelly O’Dwyer has let down the community.

“The local member is hopelessly compromised in her role as Revenue and Financial Services Minister, having accepted massive donations from the very corporations who have been exposed as frauds and liars in the Banking Royal Commission,” he says.

“People in Higgins want to see some integrity restored to politics.”

As an openly gay candidate, Ball says he is committed to fighting for the whole LGBTI community—and there’s plenty of work left to do towards full inclusion and equality.

“While I am incredibly proud to have seen Australia finally achieve marriage equality, we still have so much more work to do from a policy perspective to ensure that LGBTI people are treated fairly and equally in Australian society,” he says.

“We need more diversity in our parliament, and not only do I want to be a role model for young gay kids, but I also want to be a fierce ally for lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, and intersex people as well.”

Ball says his candidacy isn’t all about gay representation—his passion for politics comes from a desire to see environmental and economic change for the future.

“Being gay doesn’t define me, but it’s part of who I am, and I will always proudly be myself,” he says.

“But my reason for standing has very little to do with my sexuality.

“I’m standing up now because our climate is at crisis point, and if we don’t act now there won’t be a future for our children or grandchildren.

“The Greens are the only party who have the courage and vision to transition our economy towards renewable energy, bringing jobs and opportunities of the future.”

Ball has a long history of activism, including as an ambassador for beyondblue and as the founder and CEO of Pride Cup, which celebrates LGBTI people in sports.

He needs a swing of just eight per cent in this year’s election to snatch the seat—less than the swing Greens MP Adam Bandt achieved when he won Melbourne in 2010.

He is confident that voters are ready for a change, and promises to return solid values to politics.

“I was incredibly proud of our huge swing in 2016, but I also heard from many voters who at the time wanted to give Malcolm Turnbull a chance, especially after Tony Abbott,” he says.

“Those voters have been left spectacularly disappointed in a Prime Minister who has failed at every chance to stand up to the hard right within his party.

“Those voters are hungry for change and I believe we can win them over this time.”

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