Her father was a force in Australian politics, founding the Australian Democrats and famously promising to “keep the bastards honest”.
Now Don Chipp’s daughter, Laura, is hoping to launch her own political career as a Reason party-endorsed candidate in the Northcote state by-election next month.
She hopes to rise above the adversarial din that colours much of modern politics and present voters with a genuine alternative.
“I think we’ve got a good chance,” Ms Chipp said. “We’re not a protest vote as an activist party. We’re a vote to work with the government of the day to make sure there is compassion and reason in politics.”
In 2007 at the age of 21 Ms Chipp ran as a Democrats candidate in the federal electorate of Isaacs, which was won by Labor MP Mark Dreyfus.
Ms Chipp said she resigned from the Democrats about a year later – disillusioned with party’s direction and feeling it no longer offered the breadth of issues that voters deserved.
The death of sitting MP Fiona Richardson created a vacancy in Northcote, which Labor holds by 6 per cent against the Greens.
Ms Chipp will face Labor candidate Clare Burns and the Greens’ Lidia Thorpe in what promises to be a hard-fought contest.
During the campaign Ms Chipp will take approved leave as a lawyer with Victoria Legal Aid, having worked with vulnerable children charged with criminal offences.
She worked on a restorative justice project involving youths who ran amok after the Moomba parade last year, before a stint on secondment at Victoria Police working on youth crime and new diversion programs.
Ms Chipp said her experience in youth justice and resolving conflict would be valuable as an MP.
Her father’s influence has also been powerful, having grown up with religion, politics, the environment and Indigenous issues as common dinner table discussion topics.
From the time she was a young child her father impressed upon her the importance of compassion and tolerance, Ms Chipp said.
“He said it doesn’t matter how old you are it’s what you can do with what you know and what you can give back to the community.”
The Democrats were founded in 1977 and became major political players in the 1980s and 1990s, holding the balance of power in the Senate during their zenith before losing their remaining seats in 2007.
The Northcote by-election will be fiercely contested with Labor desperate to defend its slender majority. It holds 45 seats in the Victorian Parliament’s 88-seat lower house, although Labor MP turned independent Don Nardella is expected to continue supporting the government.
Ms Chipp said better public transport, housing affordability, aged care and support for small businesses would be major campaign issues.
She points to Ms Patten’s success in the Victorian Parliament’s upper house as an example of what can be done with a commitment to sound policy and negotiation rather than political point scoring.
“The whole ethos of our party is we don’t want to engage in negativity,” she said.
The Age 9th October 2017