On 3 October 2017, Geelong Chamber of Commerce organised a Candidate Forum at Rydges Geelong where each candidate was given 90 seconds to present his or her response to a number of questions and also summarise their policies and priorities. Rusty has launched a ‘Not in 90 seconds’ series, which presents the notes and draft speeches that candidates had prepared but weren’t able to express within the timespan of 1:30 minutes.

The following is what I would have liked to be able to tell the audience at the Chamber of Commerce event. Of course, that wouldn’t have been possible in 90 seconds, which was why I decided to leave my script and just give a general talk about sustainability instead.

By Mik Aidt, candidate for Brownbill Ward

Some of you will know me from this weekly community radio show we run about sustainability and climate change, The Sustainable Hour.

What people don’t know is that I also run a couple of small sole trader businesses. One is called Interculture, another The Happy Dane.

We talk about sustainability and climate change every week in our radio program, and we spend a lot of time on that topic, because it is important. Much more important than the media and our politicians appear to have understood.

Some businesses are fully on board, and if you run a business and are not aware of this, your business could be in serious trouble within just a couple of more years, because the world is changing fast towards the sustainable mindset. Those businesses who don’t get that risk waking up one morning to see customers have disappeared. They moved over to those of the competitors who’ve understood and embraced how – and why – customer’s mindset has changed.

Right now we may be just a little minority in the community – but where we are heading is a world where sustainability and respect for future generations is at heart at everything we do. And where customers will be looking out for those companies and products that are able to deliver and fully embrace that kind of respect and care for our future.

It is a misunderstanding that sustainability is something about treehugging, hippie culture or leftish politics. Sustainability is about ethics, it is about being responsible, accountable, fair and caring. It is also about saving money. Many of those deeds that in a normal world would be defined as robust, old-fashioned conservative values.

Its actually a very positive mindset about aspiring to and taking pride in doing things properly. No cheap tricks with chemicals or pollution, no leaving anyone behind, no messing up our surroundings for personal gain and with no care for those who come after us.

Sustainability is not a left or right issue, and its a pity it has become so politicised in Australia.

You can just go on ignoring it, of course. But that’s where I tell you about an experience I have, because that was exactly what people did 22 years ago, when at that time I was telling them about something new called ‘The Internet’ – and about why it was important for them to get on board and start working with it, learning how do use it and how do business on it.

They laughed at me and ignored it. “Who would do business in front of a computer screen?!,” they asked, shaking their heads. I told them this would be a game changer, this would shift jobs and school curriculums, it would change the way we think. But no. Nobody I talked to back in those days were able to see what was coming.

What I talk about now is no different.

We are in the same situation today, when a lot of people, still in 2017, can’t see – or choose to ignore – climate change, consumers’ desire to live sustainably and the disruption in how we do business, which will be coming soon because of this.

With or without climate change, we are in for disruption. Think of what happened to the phone industry, the music industry, the photo and film industry. In the coming months and years, new disruptive technologies are coming for our energy industry, housing industry, transport industry, food industry, clothing and fashion industry, tourism industry…

What kind of disruption will clean and renewable energy bring, when it is not only cheaper, but free? How will EVs, and e-bikes, and driverless shuttle-busses transform the way we move around? And how we design our roads?

But there is one more thing you need to understand about sustainability. If we don’t have jobs, good health, if we feel unsafe and unhappy, sustainability will never get a high score on people’s priority list. Jobs and the perception of living in a well-functioning society are preconditions for sustainability.

So anyone who would like to see the sustainable mindset have a bigger impact on our society will have to get involved with the task of creating jobs and figuring out what it takes to create a thriving and safe community.

We cannot talk about sustainability as an isolated issue. More importantly, sustainability is not something you can force upon people if they don’t want it.

The Chamber of Commerce tells us that the biggest thing the new Council could do for business and job-creation in Geelong would be to establish a “climate of certainty.”

My word for that is stability.

There are two things we have to talk about in order to create stability in our City Hall. Sustainability is another word for stability. The other thing we HAVE start focusing on is United leadership.

What does it require of us – how is it done? How do we learn to work together across our differences in opinion? I would be able to talk for hours about that, this is very much about of our culture where I come from. The learning how to create consensus in a board room or a council chamber. But we don’t have that kind of time.

What we do have in this room are a number of candidates who are ready and able to transform our Council and create that platform of stability and vision, that Geelong needs as a city. Its got to be done properly. Its not enough to talk about progress – we have to demand progress done properly.

Global outlook
That is where a global outlook comes in as a strength. We have a lot learn from our cultural differences, and from how people elsewhere in the world are doing things today.

I believe Australia has quite a bit to learn from the Scandinavian idea of progress done properly. I offer my perspectives and insights to Geelong, and if you would like to see me contribute with these in the new Council, for a start I could you a helping hand with getting the word out there about what I stand for – and why people should vote for me.

Video documentation from the forum event

The above was what I would have liked to be able to tell the audience at the Chamber of Commerce event. Of course, that wouldn’t have been possible in 90 seconds, which was why I decided to leave my script and just give a general talk about sustainability instead:

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