APOLLO BAY’S Naomi Halpern says the Nick Xenophon Team’s focus on “finding solutions and the best outcome for people” was part of the inspiration behind her new political passion.
Ms Halpern, who is the NXT lead Senate candidate for Victoria, said her decision to stand at the next federal election for the newly formed political party “just feels right”.
“Becoming a politician was never on my agenda, but circumstances have led me to where I am; it’s very exciting,” she said.
“I’ve been a big fan of Nick for a long time; he’s become the go-to person on a lot of issues, he has an unbiased approach and a great deal of integrity.
“I think there’s a real need for politicians who aren’t aligned so they can push for community concerns and get a fair outcome for everyone.
“Across the board, I think people are fed up with politicians and the Nick Xenophon Team is a real alternative to the major parties,” Ms Halpern said.
“I have a growing sense that taking up the challenge feels right; I think a lot of voters want a balance in the Senate.”
Ms Halpern, the director of a training company for mental health professionals, has owned a property at Apollo Bay since 1997 and moved permanently to the coastal town in 2011 after she closed the Melbourne-based counselling side of her business.
“I love Apollo Bay and when I finally moved here permanently I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long, I wished I’d made the move earlier,” she said.
Ms Halpern said her political interest started developing when she formed an action group to advocate for victims of financial misconduct.
She said campaigning for victims of white-collar crime and her career experience in social work and mental health had provided her with an understanding that family violence, substance abuse, gambling, radicalisation and mental health issues were “interwoven with personal, social and economic disenfranchisement”.
Ms Halpern said white-collar crime, consumer protection, mental health and employment would be among the keys issues she would focus on in the lead-up to the next federal election.
“Anyone who is treated in the wrong way can feel confident I’ll look after them,” she said.
“What inspires me about Nick is that he’s always looking for solutions; a focus on fairness, listening to all sides and looking at what will be the best outcome for all concerned.”
Ms Halpern said she was also committed to transparency in corporate governance and regulation; equal opportunity, embracing diversity and human rights; and “your interests not vested interests”.
Mr Xenophon, a former independent federal MP, entered the South Australian Legislative Council in 1997 on a no-pokies platform before his election to the Senate in 2007.
Mr Xenophon launched NXT in November 2014, with Ms Halpern becoming NXT’s lead Senate candidate for Victoria last month.