Final round: Cr Khan vs Mr Brown?

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Final round: Cr Khan vs Mr Brown

Will Alan Brown put his money where his mouth is? Is Cr Khan going to take the bull by its horn?

The upcoming council elections in Wyndham is promising to be a highly contested battle with many interesting candidates lining up to take their fight to the ballot box. Social media savvy civic crusader Alan Brown is the most recent to throw his hat in the ring. Releasing his campaign poster on Facebook Alan Brown’s slogan attempts to nudge Cr Intaj Khan: “I don’t have a Ferrari or a Bentley or even a helicopter. But I know how to work hard.”

Taking on incumbent Cr Intaj Khan from Harrison Ward, Brown is promising to turn these elections into one that is keenly followed. But only if Alan follows through his candidacy and actually nominates in mid-September. The two have sparred with each other numerous times in the past on social media. Their fight is as old as Cr Khan’s tenure in the council but it may finally reach the ballot paper this October.

Alan Brown calls himself a civic crusader and has been a whistleblower in the community working on embarrassing the council on overspilling public rubbish bins, untidy nature strips, pot-holes and targeting Cr Khan on his proposed mansion in the Wyndham area. Most of his social work has been in the digital space, which has made his kind of activism interesting. Brown’s most commonly used tactic is taking animated selfies / photos next to pot-holes and uncollected litter and posting them on his social media wall evoking reaction from residents and prompting council action.

On the other hand, Cr Intaj Khan has positioned himself as the millionaire who wants to bring investments into the region and generate jobs for residents. Cr Khan has been running a successful education business in Melbourne CBD for the past few years. Moved from India, Cr Khan is a moderate muslim, mostly spotted in his suit around Point Cook and Werribee’s Watton Street area. In brief, Cr Khan’s story is that of an immigrant who made it “big” in Australia.

Alan’s vision of a responsible individual and Khan’s vision of a responsible individual starkly differ. Alan wants more attention on local issues. He has generated numerous debates around issues that face Wyndham including the one around council budget cuts towards snake catchers in the area.

Cr Khan has been an example for the Islamic community and many like the idea of a successful immigrant beaming around in a Ferrari. Some say he’s probably canvassing “good living in Australia.” Cr Khan wants more jobs in the area and his personal wealth, according to him, will be a draw card for capital to flow into the Wyndham region.

Both Cr Khan and Brown have interesting profiles. They have now dug their heels deep for this battle and the voters have to choose between the two ideas and personalities in October.

Alan Brown has repeatedly accused Cr Khan of fielding ‘dummy candidates’ in the council election. Fielding ‘dummy’ candidates is a modus-operandi used by some candidates to acquire more preference votes. There are approximately nine candidates of South Asian origin contesting from Harrison Ward these elections. Some have accused Cr Khan being behind the nine candidates. Cr Khan has rejected this accusation and has published his position on the surge of South Asian candidates in the upcoming elections.

Cr Khan, in his statement published on social media, gave credit to the Victorian Local Government Associations for the surge in South Asian candidates. Cr Khan also gave credit to Cr Gupta’s and his term in the council as elected representatives for the immense interest in the council elections. He said in the statement: “This is just the beginning of the wave. I have seen some of the candidates attend OMC meeting regularly and a number of the candidates come from the Community Block Leadership Program, run by WCC… Inspiration may also come from two Indian origin Cr. Gautham Gupta and Cr. Intaj Khan.”

“Cr. Gupta was elected as acting Mayor. These reasons have attracted and inspired Indians to run for council and represent Wyndham. I would like to inspire people to get in to business and invest money in Wyndham and achieve the Great Australian Dream,” stated Cr Khan.

In his statement, Cr Khan went on to attack the member of Upper House Western Metropolitan region Bernie Finn for taking his name in the parliament “without checking facts”. Cr Khan said: “I wish he would utilise his time to raise other community issues in parliament.”

Alan Brown hit back at Cr Khan’s statement on social media. Brown nudged Khan: “They are trying to make it Indians Vs Australians. This is about crooks getting power for self-interest.”

Although Alan Brown’s campaign material is already circulating on social media, he has many times in the past done such theatrics on Facebook. Many are still unsure if he will actually contest council elections and put his money where his mouth is. Nominations are open on 15 September and closes on 20 September. A clear list of candidates will only be clear after the 20th of September. Till then Alan may keep provoking Cr Khan. The fight between the two in the coming days will give Khan more reasons to articulate his position and policies. At the same time, Alan can make up his mind and decide if he wants to intervene more effectively, drifting away from mere theatrics.

Harrison is one of the three wards in the Wyndham city area. The ward includes Point Cook, Truganina, Williams Landing and some parts of Hoppers Crossing. Industrial precincts in Laverton and Laverton North are also part of this ward. This region has close to one third of Wyndham’s population.

Nine South Asian origin candidates have announced their candidacy from Harrison Ward. Candidates have to indicate their preferences by 12 PM on 23 September. The current councillors who are representing Harrison Ward are Cr Adele Hegedich, Cr Bob Fairclough, Cr Glenn Goodfellow and Cr Intaj Khan. Council elections will be held across Victoria in October 2016.

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