Derryn Hinch has been a towering figure in Australian media for decades now, with the former journalist finding fame in both television and and talk-back radio.
Now he’s making a major change and trying his hand at politics instead. But what could posses any sane person to want to throw their hat into that ring?
Speaking to Starts at Sixty, Derryn says he’s hoping to make a difference in a number of areas – many of which he thinks are important to over 60s around the country.
When Derryn arrived at our offices he was friendly, warm, and ready for a good chat. At 72, he seems a lot younger than his years and was happy to get down to the nitty gritty when it came to controversial topics like euthanasia and child sex offenders.
Speaking about his push for voluntary euthanasia to be made legal, he told us about how his mother’s death prompted him to speak up about the issue and campaign for the cause.
“It’s a huge issue,” he said. “When my mother died – she went from semi-healthy and died within about eight weeks – I sat with her on her last nights.
“My mother was a very proud woman, a very dignified woman and she sat there with a pillow between her legs incontinent – no dying with dignity at all. I sat through the night with her alone … and I thought to myself if she were a dog and an RSPCA investigator walked through the door now I’d be arrested for animal cruelty. It’s just mad.”
Having worked in media and interviewed politicians for years, Derryn has a unique insight into the leaders in Canberra and says he’s been surprised by a number of announcements both parties have made during the election.
“Politicians make strange bedfellows,” he said. He found it peculiar that Labor flipped on company tax cuts when the Government announced they planned to cut the rate by 25 per cent over 10 years, since Bill Shorten has previously said he supports the idea.
He also told us he thinks the LNP will win the election but with a reduced majority, which some are predicting will cause a balance of power issue.
So how will Derryn go when it comes to balancing his own power, and maintaining his temper, if he wins a seat? He has famously been sent to jail a number of times in contempt of court for revealing the names of paedophiles and sex abusers, and has fiercely debated with politicians and the courts over issues he is passionate about.
“I know I’m a hothead and a cowboy and I’m very opinionated but I’m learning to negotiate,” he said.
When it comes down to it, there are hopes he will stand up to the government on a number of big issues for over 60s and negotiate changes to the health system.
He says many over 60s worry about the increasing cost of health care and says it’s counter-productive to increase prices for the people who need it most.
“You’ve got to hold the government to account because its the government who decides how much private health insurers charge,” he said.
It’s not just private health insurers who are in the firing line either. He says many people are worried about doctors fees under Medicare, too.
“I was talking to a friend who’s very scared that doctors visits are going to go up. She said ‘I’m going to vote Labor because I’m scared doctors visits are going to go up’. She’s scared a doctors visits is going to cost $16 and to a pensioner $16 is a lot of money.”
Of cause one of the issues he is most famous for campaigning for, whether as a political candidate or not, is the sex abuse registry.
Derryn has long been an avid support of a sex offenders register that allows the public to stay informed and vigilant about convicted sex offenders near them and has gone to jail on multiple occasions in contempt of court over this issue.
“We’re talking about convicted sex offenders of serious crimes – paedophiles” he said. He told us a story about a young woman he used to work with in television who was abused and who years later showed him the sex offenders registry in America, which allows you to see were all the registered and convicted sex offenders are in your neighbourhood. He believes we should have the same system in Australia, so people can be informed and keep their children and family safe.
With so many issues on his plate, you’ve got to wonder if he’ll ever wind down and think about retirement.
“I’ll retire when I die!” he declared.
You can watch our full interview with Derryn below. Tell us what you think. Would you vote for the Derryn Hinch Justice Party?