State party politics no cause for celebration


FAITH Layton, 87, says that she has always been a tomboy.

The Launceston woman's backyard when she was growing up at West Launceston was the reserve across the road.

It was no man's land and therefore the local children's playground.

"There didn't seem to be many other girls around my age so I played with the boys - there was lots of cricket, I love cricket," she said.

Her father - Phoenix Foundry manager Sam Docking - was called on to mass-produce go- karts for all her friends after they saw hers.

It flew like a dream down the favoured, very steep, kart track - from West Launceston's Hill Street to Reserve Street.

"My mother always wondered why the heels of my shoes were worn down but Hill Street wasn't sealed then and you had to have some sort of brakes," says Mrs Layton, blue eyes sparkling still at the thrill of it.

Her friends would say that Mrs Layton is naturally bolshy and a born leader - it's what sets her apart.

"I'm proudly not party political," she says defiantly.

"When elections have been held on two separate occasions I was asked to be photographed with Liberal Party candidates and Labor Party candidates and refused both."

But she and her non-party- political mate Margot Smart ran a successful campaign over many years to get more woman representation on local government.

"Yes, that worked quite well," says Mrs Layton, remembering.

"At one stage we had five women at the same time on council.

"But it was so difficult - no one urges women to participate in the community and we still haven't solved the problem."

Mrs Layton, a strong women's advocate, is disappointed with what has been achieved in the past 30 years.

"All that has been achieved is that women have taken on extra roles - they go out into the workforce, they are a parent and then if there's time they get involved in the community," she says.

"There has been no progress whatsoever. It's very disappointing."

Mrs Layton's current hobby horse, as she calls it, is state politics.

She has a plan.

"I've got it all worked out for us in Tasmania," she says.

"If I had the opportunity I would immediately abolish all political parties.

"The first thing to do after that would be to elect the speaker."

According to Mrs Layton's plan, all Tasmanians would elect the speaker.

But candidates would not be able to stand for election until they had at least 100 nominations.

Under Mrs Layton's plan, the same number of people would stand in the same electorates but they would not have party support even if they stood with a party label.

"They would be individual candidates who would also have to have 100 nominations to stand," she says.

"That means that they would not have allegiance to anyone except their electorate."

Parliament according to Mrs Layton would not have a cabinet.

"Instead you would have committees for each of the portfolios," she says.

"If numbers were limited for committee members, you might even have to bring in the Legislative Council, which could be a good thing.

"The committees would go away and elect their own chairman.

"Then the committees would get together with the public service and prepare legislation to go to the lower house for debate.

"There would be no party ties so that everyone would be thinking of what was best for the state."

At 87 and proudly "born and bred in Launceston", Mrs Layton still has a number of campaigns to fight.

Like what she sees as the disproportionate spread of both human and physical resources across the University of Tasmania's Launceston and Hobart sites and the domination of the Australian supermarket giants - Coles and Woolworths - on the market.

And the need for optimism, not pessimism, for Tasmania's future.


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