Gary非常富有，擁有家傳企業包括澳洲最大最悠久的市場及民調機構 Roy Morgan Research，及金礦等。作為無名小卒，疫情間筆者冒味邀請，但Gary親切地邀請到他簡樸的家做訪問。離開時剛巧太太買餸回來，親自拿著大袋小袋，Gary禮貌地送筆者離開，然後再幫太太拿入屋。從華人眼中，出奇地貼地。
Gary家族與中國人甚有緣，太爺在墨爾本辦報起家，在白人主義年代編寫了幫礦工發聲，支持華人移民的《The Chinese Puzzle》文章（The Colonial Journals, Melbourne Monthly Magazine, May 1855)。兒子是內地信永中和會計師事務所的合夥人。
遊客及留學生一向是墨爾本市內經濟命脈之一，澳中關係日益緊張加上疫情大力衝擊，前景不樂觀。雖然Gary不相信共產主義，亦覺得與澳洲市場經濟背道而馳，但他相信澳中關係應該更好，亦支持澳洲繼續與中國合作。Gary覺得今天僵局的形成是荒謬的（ridiculous ），雙方都欠缺信任，他視中國人是善良的（good people），最勤奮工作的民族，工作是生活的一大部分，是為了儲錢留給下一代。Gary主張修補關係，但他有留意到關於種族清洗的報導，並覺得非常不安。他建議在堅持澳洲己見的原則下，不要和中國作對抗，並以談判及溝通化解。
近年墨爾本市的露宿者數目上升一倍，Gary相信會再倍升。Gary若當選，願意以council的所有盈餘用作照顧露宿者，重點是花錢請受過專業訓練的社工去提供協助，製造工作丶社交機會，幫助他們尋回家人，讓他們重拾自尊。他認為多年來council做法不智，公幣沒有用得其所，其他候選人建議減低泊車費，不如用來幫助露宿者。與其拘捕露宿者，把他們困在情況惡劣的汽車酒店，甚至監禁，不如利用空置公寓給他們一個臨時居所。他認為今天吸毒人士的安全室（Safe injection room）做法愚昧，只得Richmond一個安全室又不足夠，並令到大量吸毒者在該區流連。而且選址靠近學校非常荒謬，他建議選址在醫院附近。
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Gary is rich, he owns the largest and longest running market research and opinion polling company Roy Morgan Research and mining companies. I’m a little known blogger migrated from Hong Kong 30 years ago whom requested for an interview. Gary had kindly accepted and welcomed me to meet at his home. When we finished, his wife just returned with bags of heavy groceries in her hands. Gary walked me out then helped her carrying the groceries in. At least in the eyes of Asians, he is an unbelievably humble person for his wealth.
Gary and his family has a long history with Chinese. His great grandfather penned The Chinese Puzzle published in 1855, advocating for diggers rights and Chinese migrants. His son is also a partner at the ShineWing accounting firm in China.
Gary had ran for the Lord Mayor four times, lately not as a favourite to win but had sponsored team members successfully elected as councillors. The latest being Jackie Watts who served two terms.
“The young people don’t know me.” Gary runs a pollster and certainly knows his chances, Jackie has served for 8 years, both of them have reached retirement age, so what are they still advocating for? What could that possibility represent for the Hong Kongers?
Tourists and overseas students have been a major source of income for the city. The pandemic and the worsening Australia-China relationship have sent the city economy to reach a rock bottom. Gary do not believe in communism, but he thinks our relationship with China can be better. He thinks the situation today is ridiculous and he supports a continuous working relationship. Gary thinks the Chinese are hard working and good people.
“Nobody wants to be controlled by another country, no matter it’s China or the USA.” He is anti-colonialism, and thinks it’s about mutual respects of each other’s civilisation. The bottom line is fairness, Australia standing firm of our ground and trading is essential to re-establish trust. Gary sees education can play a big part and he welcomes more Chinese overseas students, however these students must recognise our democracy. If they are to migrate to Australia, Gary believes they should become citizens and give up their Chinese citizenship.
I added “and we aren’t resort”.
Gary sees a weakness in the lack of schools inside the city. He proposes the use of many vacant buildings to be new primary and secondary schools, with Chinese language classes in their curriculum. He believes by having the locals and new migrants at the same school will assist with their settlement, and harmony. Gary supports multiculturalism but is firm on English as the common language, new migrants must learn English.
For Hong Kong, Gary sees the issues and suggests both sides to work together sensibly. He thinks it isn’t wise to lock up the protestors but the Hong Kongers should also recognise the Chinese sovereignty. If the Hong Kongers disagrees, migration to the UK or Australia can be a way out and Gary encourages them choosing Australia of course.
Gary believes we must stop building tiny apartments, and resolve the vacancy issues. His policy is to use vacant building as temporary housing, relieving the high density public housing. He has seen 8 people cramped into an apartment, thinks it’s time to redesign and stop creating a slum. The pandemic should readjust the market into building more liveable spaces.
“They shouldn’t be built in the first place (the high density buildings).”
“I’m rich, I don’t worry about money. I want to see how (rich) people spend the money, do things with it which can be helpful, we have a real problem with the homeless. We have poor migrants from different countries who are put into high rises which are unsafe, over crowded, not sensible.”
The city council has recorded surpluses of 20 million a year. Gary thinks the rates can be lower and the owners should rather spend on making their premises COVID safe. The pandemic will reduce the revenue by 75 million, Gary would encourage foreign companies, students and tourists to return to the city.
The city homeless population has doubled in recent years, Gary believes it will double again. If elected, he will use all the surplus to provide care to the homeless. It is important to hire trained professional to provide assistance, create jobs and social programs, help them to find their family, and re-establish their pride. He thinks our council hasn’t been spending wisely, putting homeless in motels, cladding the Southbank buildings; a candidate has even suggested cutting the parking fees, these money should be spent on the homeless. The safe injection room in Richmond wasn’t well planned, there is only one and it has become a gathering spot for the addicts. It is also too close to the schools, they should be close to hospitals instead.
Traffic and Environment
“When we spent billions building the underground, (another candidate) Jennifer Yang suggests to reduce the parking fees.” Team Gary-Watts proposes to expand the free tram zone to Melbourne University and to the MCG.
Melbournians loves coffee, and we use tens of thousands of coffee cups everyday, the pandemic has also increased single use materials. On environment, Gary’s principle is to recycle as much as, and as soon as we can afford it.
Gary believes Melbournians like indoor dining and we shouldn’t just allow for outdoor dining. He believes in living with COVID and the key lies in contact tracing. If we can make it COVID safe, enforcing contact tracing, checking temperatures, wearing masks, ensuring our workers are tested sufficiently, Gary supports for indoor dining. Despite the cost increases, he believes this will be supported by the merchants. “It’s certainly better than closing.”
There is hope if we can learn to coexist with the virus.
Gary understands the privacy concerns behind contact tracing. If elected he will re-establish this trust, by protecting our data privacy, and work together towards our recovery.
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