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October 1, 2014

One on one: Michael Noack

Michael Noack is likely the only Adelaide City Council election candidate who is going to announce, without hesitation, that we should legalise medicinal marijuana.

  • Words: Farrin Foster

Despite Michael’s stance on medical marijuana, he is also one of a small percentage of Australians who has never tried the drug. This may at first seem confusing, or even contradictory, but being practical, rather than personal, about his politics seems to characterise Michael’s approach.

The software developer who lives along South Terrace is running for a seat as a South Ward Councillor (confused by how the Council and its elections work? See our dot-point guide). He stood as an independent for the Upper House in the 2010 state election and in this year’s closely fought battle for South Australia’s parliament he ran unsuccessfully with the Liberal Democrats SA for a seat in the Upper House.

The national arm of the Liberal Democrats is fast gaining recognition in Australia after their candidate David Leyonhjelm was successfully installed as a NSW Senator in the 2013 federal election. The party exists outside of Australia’s usual left/right political paradigm, instead following a philosophy called libertarianism that calls for less regulation and a less interventionist Government.

It’s a sometimes difficult philosophy to digest. The national version of the party’s website proclaims policies that vary from deregulation of gun ownership, to support for gay marriage, to less Government interference in labour laws.

If elected to Council, Michael will not be beholden to his party’s policies as all Adelaide City Councillors are independent. But it is fair to say that his natural inclinations align with those of the Liberal Democrats.

“Originally I was quite left wing,” says Michael. “…I think the Iraq War was a real turning point for me – everyone was marching and I was marching too and I could just see that the Government wasn’t listening. So I began to think that perhaps we needed a smaller, more local, accountable Government.

“I started to think about decentralisation.”

Along with his plan to use Council as a platform to lobby for legalising medicinal marijuana, Michael strongly believes that Council spending should be re-evaluated.

“You can see that certain people are going to benefit from the Rundle Mall upgrade… could we look at funding that by perhaps taking one per cent of their sales for a year to pay for it?”

Pledging to fight for Council rate rises to stay below CPI, he points to things like the new city library in Rundle Mall and the Victoria Square upgrade as places where spending had gotten out of control.

“If you weren’t funding things like Victoria Square, the Library, the Rundle Mall upgrade – you could freeze rates for four years,” says Michael. “That will never happen, I understand that, but you can look at doing things differently.”

While sympathetic to the view that money needs to be invested so that Adelaide might transform into a modern city with new industries and up-to-scratch infrastructure, Michael says that alternative funding methods need to be found.

“You can see that certain people are going to benefit from the Rundle Mall upgrade – the traders in the Mall, for example. So could we look at funding that by perhaps taking one per cent of their sales for a year to pay for it? These are different ideas that we could consider,” he says.

On the ever-controversial issue of transport he says he leans toward being “pro-car” more than “pro-bike”, because facilities should be “demand driven”. However, ripping up the Frome Street bike lane would constitute a waste of money in Michael’s eyes, even though he wouldn’t have voted to install it in the first place.

Development is a particularly big issue in the South Ward, where he is making his play for a Council seat, because this area is home to many of the zones where catalyst sites may apply.

“I am generally pro-development,” says Michael.

“If you live in the city, we all know there’s an expectation that in 50 years there will be more skyscrapers. There are so many places around the city that are one floor, two or three bedroom cottages and I think anyone buying in the city now knows the skyscraper is coming. But I understand you can’t build a 20-storey building next to a cottage.”

Enabling development would support housing affordability, says Michael, which is something he is passionate about. He also believes drawing down heritage restrictions will help on this issue.

No matter whether you agree with his views or not, the prospect of a pro-car, anti-heritage Councillor that will campaign for marijuana legalisation is certainly an interesting one.

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