POLITICS

Derryn Hinch: From TV To Jail, To The Senate?

The Human Headline tells us "I'm not here as a good Samaritan. I'm hoping to win."

25/05/2016 4:39 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Fairfax Media
Hinch in his element, on radio.

He's been on radio waves and TV screens, on newspaper sheets and web pages; he's gone from New Zealand to New York, from prime time to jail time, and in the presence of some of the most powerful, dangerous and important people in Australia. Now, as he approaches his 73rd birthday, there's one more place Derryn Hinch wants to go.

Parliament.

The legendary broadcaster, with six decades as a journalist, has one of the most storied and controversial stories in Australian media. He tells The Huffington Post Australia he has met every Prime Minister since Robert Menzies, and interviewed most of them, in a career that spanned his own eponymous TV current affairs program, years in foreign bureaus reporting on some of the biggest news events of the 20th century, hosting Beauty & The Beast, and starring on Dancing With The Stars.

In between, "the Human Headline" went to prison twice and has also been under house arrest, for breaching suppression orders around sensitive court cases. He broadcast details of people accused of sex crimes, including the killer of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher.

He's now running for a federal Senate seat in Victoria, the lead candidate for --what else? -- the Derryn Hinch's Justice Party.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Hinch laughed when we ask why he's running for parliament.

He tells a story about "the last time I got out of jail" in 2014, and a 'Justice Walk' he did from the Langi Kal Kal prison in which he had just served a 10-day stint. Ten days and 180 kilometres later, he arrived at the Victorian Parliament House to present a petition with well over 100,000 signatures, calling for a national register of convicted paedophiles. Along the way, he was supported and joined by such prominent victims of crime and justice campaigners as Bruce and Denise Morecombe and Rosie Batty.

"There was this pressure from friends who said 'why don't you run for the Senate?' We started the idea of a justice party when it didn't look like a double dissolution was on, when it looked like Malcolm Turnbull would go to the polls in November... when he probably should," Hinch added with a laugh.

Initial media reports painted the party as anti-paedophilia campaigners, but while that is an issue the Justice Party will tackle, Hinch said it was impossible "to get elected as a one-issue candidate."

"We want changes to bail reform, parole, animal rights, animal cruelty, equality and same sex marriage, and domestic violence reform. A lot of these issues tie up together. I want a Senate enquiry into the Family Court and child protection agencies too," he said.

Fairfax Media
Hinch arrives at the Melbourne Supreme Court for his hearing in 2013


Hinch said his motivation for running for parliament came from frustration with asking for change, and a desire to enact change himself.

"I'm sick of going to marches and rallies [for victims of crime] and wearing black armbands and releasing doves," he said bluntly.

"You could cut and paste the politician's answers to those things. I did a rally in Perth the other day, a convicted rapist had been paroled with 41 conditions. If he needs 41 conditions under parole, you're not ready to be out."

The Justice Party is running Senate candidates in every state and territory, with 11 candidates already announced. Hinch says they all came to him after he announced his candidacy, with the clutch including "a domestic violence campaigner who was nearly murdered," animal rights campaigners and foster carers.

"Fifteen years ago, people urged me to launch a party, but I wasn't ready. I'm a journalist," Hinch said.

"Millions of Australians know who I am, but don't know I'm running. We are getting some donations, but if someone asks who is funding me, I'd say Derryn Hinch's superannuation fund."


While recent changes to Senate voting laws have potentially cruelled the chances of smaller parties finding their way into parliament, Hinch is tipped to put in a strong showing. His name recognition alone is a huge factor, and some experts are saying Hinch may pinch the 12th Senate seat in Victoria at the expense of Ricky Muir. Hinch, for his part, thinks the next Senate may even have more crossbenchers than the last.

"I hope to get not just me, but two or three candidates in the Senate. Malcolm shot himself in the foot with this election. He wanted to get rid of eight pesky senators, but I think he'll come back with 12 crossbenchers," Hinch said.

"That is, if Shorten doesn't become the Stephen Bradbury of politics and fall over the line."

The veteran journalist is wise enough not to bite when we ask him whether a potential Senator Hinch would prefer a Prime Minister Turnbull or Shorten -- "oh no, I'm not falling into that trap" -- but is open about his disappointment with both sides so far during the election campaign.

"I've met every PM since Menzies... and I've never seen a political leader lose his political cache as fast as Turnbull. Not Gillard, not Rudd. It's amazing," Hinch said.

"It'll be tight, and there's the feeling of everyone being pissed off about politics. No matter who gets up, both major parties will be hurt in the Senate."

Fairfax Media
Hinch, in his days on 2GB radio in 1996

When asked why people should vote for him, he's frank about his record.

"People can trust me. You know who I am, you know I believe in the cause. I've been jailed and fined and under house arrest. Everything I stand for is on the record," he said.

And as to whether he's running to make a point, or whether he actually wants to sit in the Senate?

"Shit no, I'm not here as a good Samaritan. I'm hoping to win."

For more on Derryn Hinch's Justice Party, click here.

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