MIA Labor candidate Luke Willis finally speaks up, but no funds and no chance in Tangney

Luke Willis

By Guinevere Hall

August 18, 2013

I was ready to write my missing-in-action piece when the elusive Labor candidate for Tangney in Western Australia Luke Willis finally made contact.

There had been numerous emails and weeks of silence but then he agreed to meet for an interview.

We met at a local café in Riverton and he had an explanation. The young Labor candidate had been busy with his medical studies – he is in his third year and has recently being doing his GP placement.

Mr Willis, 20, was nervous at first and did admit to little apprehension about the interview, but he soon warmed up.

Luke Willis says he has always been interested in politics.

It is where “you can help everyone in Australia. I like improving lives on a large scale, I like achieving something morally good. I am the vice president of the local branch and have been for the past year.”

He says he has seen the evidence first hand of how politics can help a person, such as his single mum.

“My mum came to WA alone when she was 16, thanks to (former Labor prime minister) Gough Whitlam allowing free (tertiary) education, we have basically got the life we have today. At 28 with no qualifications she went to University and that shot her off into a great career.

I would have had no chance living in this area and doing those things if my mum had not had that chance.

Mr Willis says his mum is proud of his medical degree but believes she is more so about his move into politics.

He says his mother wasn’t a member of a political party but she was major activist and helped lead the anti-Apartheid movement in WA.

When asked what he had to offer young disaffected voters in Tangney, given his own youth, Mr Willis said he had set up a website and may set up a Facebook page.

He said he was trying to make contact through social media as he did not have the funding other candidates had access to.

“That’s the unfortunate part.”

When told there were ways to make contact without spending money such finding out where 18-to-25-year olds hung out in Tangney, Mr Willis said we are mainly focusing on the social media, which is one place they all hang out.”

I am prioritising my time. In going to a shopping centre, I might convince one or two people to vote for me. I am mainly using my time talking to the  people who are already Labor in the area so on election day we have a presence at hopefully every booth.”

“It is just an issue of funds. It is a shame, I agree.”

But on election issues, Mr Willis has his answers. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.


Hall: Climate Change? A big one for Tangney given we have a climate sceptic for our local MP (Dennis Jensen).

Willis: Probably not, we don’t have the funding. We are going to stay fairly positive in our message. We are not going to attack him, but rather point out how our views differ.


Hall: NBN, is it an election issue for young people?

Willis: They think it is a very good thing. It has a major impact on education, listening to lectures, doing research, contacting other people for joint research, all of this requires internet. It allows people to work from home, which ultimately takes traffic off the road. For example, I have a friend who has a game production business, he works with people all over the country, they have to upload their files onto something like Drop Box so they can all access it, and currently on this system this can mean two days when they can do no work while they are waiting for the file to upload.


Willis: I am completely supportive. I see no reason to oppose it. We are not trying to change religious institutions, we are not trying to change any definition of marriage other than just the legal definition.


Hall: What do you think of the Labor Party’s PNG solution?

Willis: Overall it is making the best of a bad situation. There were so many tragedies occurring, something had to be done, and the public was calling for something to be done, so I believe a tough decision was made. Already it has made a lot of process, less boats are coming across, and people aren’t as likely to sign up to the smuggler’s deals. There will be fewer deaths.

Mr Willis said he knew people asked if there was any point standing in a safe Liberal seat.

“It is to give people that option to vote against Dennis Jensen,” he said.

“He has his views on climate change and the apology to the Aboriginal people that he stood out on, which I can’t believe. Also his views on uranium mining, so it gives people an alternative on all that. I know my chances are not the greatest, but it is giving people a choice, it is a democracy.”

Mr Willis said he would definitely be around for the next election.

More Tangney reports here


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  1. Aaron press says

    If only the current leaders of today spoke like this bloke. I hope he wins his seat and if so maybe one day he may run this country.

  2. Labor people never give-up. We are and have always been positive hard working people, that’s how we built this country.

  3. Luke Willis, you sound like a good guy with lots of positives to contribute. Best of luck with the seat and your future.

  4. joy cooper says

    Agree 100%. This is a young man who would be an asset anywhere he chooses to participate. His mother has reason to be proud of him & it is wonderful to see people of such quality involved in trying to make things better & fairer for others. Shame he isn’t well-funded as his Liberal opponent would be rolling in funding for advertising etc. Makes things a bit harder & more unfair.

    Hope you do well Luke. You deserve to.

  5. joy cooper says

    PS I do think it was a little unfair that the author left the MIA term in the headline for this piece. Jensen has also been MIA at times. Headlines speak volumes & this one has made it sound as if Luke was sitting back, doing zilch on his campaign.

  6. Luke Willis never turned up to fundraisers for his own campaign, As a Labor supporter I find it hard to support someone who has never done a physical day of hard work in his life and is sill living off mum and dad, Get a job flipping burgers or in a bar or work part time as a tradies assistant, maybe then the traditional Labor will support you. My vote and many of my friends goes to the minor parties this time.

    No life experience, no true Labor values, no chance. He was not the parties first choice.

    • joy cooper says

      Isn’t studying for a medical degree & working alongside a GP hard work, Chooker? We don’t all have to have to have humped bricks to know what hard work is. Doubt he has time to “flip burgers”.either. As he is only 20 & at uni surely he allowed to “live off mum & dad”!!! At least he isn’t on the dole.

      Fair’s fair. Many in Luke’s position would be swanning off to the Liberals You should be proud to have someone like him as a candidate for Labor. What ever you do don’t disillusion him to the Labor cause. The party needs people like him who value the true core beliefs of Labor. As an aside I didn’t know “traditional” Labor were such reverse snobs. Think you’ll find many “tradies’ assistants” are now voting for the LNP as they believe the untruths & misinformation they hear,from the likes of Tony Abbott & Dennis Jensen!!!

      • Joy, he joined the party at last notice and was given the role as no one else was interested, never turned up to his own fund raiser with no reason given why not. He says he has no funds, what about the 20K budget from the party he was given?

        He doesn’t spend all day studying, but does spend time at partying, my daughter has seen him many times and he is often heard saying his own candacy is just so Labor can say they put someone up aginst Jensen.

        Most tradies and their labourers and many of my MUA mates have become dissillusioned by Labor and their blatant attitude of the unions will do their job.

        Labor no longer represents the workig man, many of the heirachy have never worked hard, no more Combet, Hawke who came through the unions. No wonder everyone is leaving the party.

        Sorry Luke, maybe a few more years under your belt in the workforce and more action at the party front and you may gain us back!

        Stand Up Australia and Palmer Party will get my votes this year as well as many of my mates.

      • joy cooper says

        Chooker, you do know that worthy politicians & firm Labor men they are, neither Greg Combet or Bob Hawke never actually worked, hands on, in anything but union politics. They went to work for unions basically straight from University.
        Somehow I doubt you are in fact, a true blue Labor man but are in fact a concern troll. No died-in-the-wool working class Labor voter could vote for PUP a party for the privileged that is a backdoor party for the L-NP. As for Stand Up Australia, do you mean Rise Up Australia Party? A party of religious, right wing bigots?

        So what if Luke has been to a few parties, isn’t this called networking?

    • Luke Willis says

      I do not want to enter a debate, but I would like to say that I did attend the Quiz Night Fundraiser last month. My team was The Angels.

      • joy cooper says

        Don’t take any notice of people like chooker, Luke. Doubt he is what he says he is as his words don’t ring true. Just keep on doing what you are doing to the best of your ability as the voters of Tangney do need a choice. Not all want to vote conservative & Jensen does need to be challenged.

  7. To those armchair heroes criticising Luke, I have to ask, why didn’t you put your hand up for the job? I have previously run as a candidate in a seat that is safe for the “other team”, and there is a lot of work and effort required, even for a minimalist campaign. I honour Luke, and any others prepared to put up their hand in a contest in our democracy, you are putting in work, effort, nailing your colours publicly to the mast and prepared to have a go for what you believe in. In many fundamental respects, clearly, I disagree with Luke’s and Labor’s policies and philosophies. But please, don’t denigrate a person for putting in the effort, and investing financially, emotionally, and with time, unless you are prepared to do so yourself.

    • joy cooper says

      Very well said, Dennis. Although I do have completely different beliefs to your own (& have said so on Twitter), I truly admire someone, such as yourself, who will take the stand, as you have done, for their opponent. Young people with convictions such as Luke need all the encouragement we can give to stand up for what they think is right & act on their beliefs. Too many are apathetic & with criticism such as we have seen here who can blame them.

      It is all too easy to sit back & criticise others.for having a go.

  8. I doubt Luke is living off his Mum and Dad because as he says, he was raised by a single mum, and I think everyone knows how tough that is. If only women’s wages were at a parity with men’s, life would be somewhat easier for single mums. And I don’t think Luke got in to a medical degree by partying his way through high school. I think he’s already proven he is an incredibly hard worker just to have achieved this! And I think a 20 year old is pretty entitled to have whatever social life they can fit in between studying and running for a seat in politics. I’d like to think our future politicians have experience in many fields of life.

    • joy cooper says

      Hear, hear, Robbie. Agree with you 100%. Luke is a young man anyone would be proud to have as a son. Do firmly believe Chooker was/is a “concern” troll intent on denigrating Luke for their own reasons.

      Wish I could vote for you, Luke. Wrong side of the country. :)