A passion for politics began decades ago as a result of one of the most contentious moments from Australia’s recent history.
“It started as an 18-year-old at university without paying uni fees, without having a HECS debt thanks to Gough Whitlam,” Patrick McGinlay said.
“I was gobsmacked at the news the Governor-General [John Kerr] could fire the Prime Minister of our country.”
That moment kick-started a life-long interest in politics.
Three years ago, Mr McGinlay joined The Greens and is now running as the party’s candidate for the Eden-Monaro at the next federal election.
Born in Scotland, near Glasgow, he came to Australia in 1965 when he was nine years old. As he is a dual citizen, he has taken steps to ensure he is not caught up in the citizenship scandal that consumed federal politics last year.
“I’m doing all I reasonably can to revoke my UK citizenship, which apparently follows every British-born person wherever they go,” he said.
“My application is with the British Home Office to revoke my citizenship.”
Another issue faced by Mr McGinlay in the event he becomes the Member for Eden-Monaro is being a councillor on Eurobodalla Shire Council.
“I don’t have to renounce [my councillor role], but I don’t know if I’d have enough time to do both jobs so would probably resign in that situation,” he said.
“With a bit of luck it wouldn’t trigger a by-election, as it would only be 15 months to go before the next election.”
While he said it would be a struggle to win the seat in the House of Representatives, that would most likely leave two alternatives: a Labor or Coalition candidate in the position.
“Neither of those parties seem to be able to make strong policy decisions particularly in relation to climate change, preservation of the environment, protecting the future of education and health of young people, and giving a true vision of where they see this country in 10, 20 or 30 years time,” he said.
“The Greens are actually looking at policies to be implemented for the benefit of Australians in the future.
“We need to start thinking in terms of decades into the future, not in terms of election cycles.”
Mr McGinlay said running in the election was “not about running for the power, not about running for the prestige”, but about growing the Greens vote to influence policy decisions in the future.
He said it was important for the public to realise voting Green was not throwing a vote away, due to preferential voting.
“If people vote one for The Greens in the House of Representatives then vote before the line number two for their next preferred party, then if the Greens are eliminated early in the count their vote will go to number two,” he said.
While there has been a reported rise in the extreme right attempting to influence politics, such as the recent case where the NSW Nationals banned 22 people for life after an investigation into alleged links to neo-Nazi and fascist groups, Mr McGinlay said there was still a place for The Greens in Australian politics and called the views of the alt-right “backwards”.
“These groups operate on fear and divisiveness rather than trying to bring society together,” he said.
“The Greens are about the opposite of what they represent and need to maintain their strong stance of opposition to the extreme right.”