Newley-elected East Metropolitan Greens MLC Tim Clifford cringes somewhat when he hears the term politician applied to himself.
“I always felt growing up that you needed to be a different class to be a politician,” he said.
Raised in Albany, the 35 year-old hails from a working class background where everything was a struggle for his family and knows full well the inequities of society.
He will be in an interesting position whenever he takes his seat in Parliament as the Speaker Peter Watson formerly umpired some of Mr Clifford’s youth basketball games.
Some of the issues that drive Mr Clifford is homelessness and the issues that lower income families have to overcome, having experienced them first hand living in social housing for much of his time in Albany.
His mining industry worker father was often absent for long periods of time due to work, while his mother combined a part-time bar manager’s job with caring for her son and his three sisters.
One of Mr Clifford goals is to get young people engaged in politics.
“One of my goals is to get young people enthusiastic about being involved and illustrate that if you’re prepared to work at it you can make a difference.”
The Greens MLC believes far more input is needed from the younger generation about issues they care about such as homelessness, the environment and the ever increasing drug problem.
Issues such as fracking and renewable energy development are also of critical importance to him.
Mr Clifford said having worked previous in areas of Queensland where fracking was and is prevalent he has witnessed for himself, the tremendous costs to the environment and the damage to rural society.
So he is dead set against the WA fracking industry and the environmental and societal costs involved as residents will still suffer the consequences long after the industry has packed up and disappeared.
A former FIFO worker, Mr Clifford also worked as a plastic welder, dogman and rigger to name just a few of the jobs that he worked prior to returning to Perth several years ago to study as a mature age student.
He subsequently worked in the Attorney General office and then the Central Law Courts and was originally interested in doing humanitarian work aboard.
But he and several friends quickly realised that increasing social problems, homelessness, an alarming decrease in investment in renewable energy and increasing power costs were problems which no one appeared to be paying much attention to.
Not surprisingly he came to the conclusion that these pressing issues needed to be just as urgently addressed here at home.
From there the decision to run for office was an easy one and a strong grass root campaign ensued.
He was elected to the legislative council back in March and life ever since has been a whirlwind for the new MLC, who’s office is on The Crescent in Midland.
“I am personally committed to ensuring that in four years’ time, the people of Western Australia have a better community than they have today.”
By Andrew Carter