Tony Pecora is the standout odd candidate in the progressive seat of Melbourne: he was once a member of the Greens but is standing for Clive Palmer’s conservative, controversial and potentially influential United Australia Party.
And Pecora is running for the UAP even though the party has policies that don’t always align with his own.
“They gave me an opportunity to voice my opinion, which none of the others allowed,” he says in an interview.
The son of Italian immigrants, Pecora grew up in the outer eastern suburbs and studied at Melbourne University before starting his own renewable energy company in 2008.
He believes his “diverse life” is what will set him apart from his rivals in the upcoming election.
“I’ve been homeless, lived with the Aboriginals. I’ve got a multicultural background and I’ve spent my whole life studying why people are doing it so hard.”
Having lived in Melbourne and familiarised himself with the electorate, Pecora is aware of the issues people are facing.
“Sixty-five per cent of people are renting, they don’t own a home. The cost of living is expensive. Half of your money is going to rent and another 40 per cent to tax and that doesn’t leave much for us. We need to tackle house prices and I know how to do that.”
Pecora admitted to once being a Greens member and voter before abandoning the party he believes has been “hijacked”.
“I was a young hippy who believed in freedom,” he said.
“The old Greens were about saving the environment, freedom and sustainability. They looked good back then.”
Once a firm believer in climate change, Pecora centered his business ideas on it and even claimed to be a member of the “church of climate change”.
“I started a renewable energy businesses thinking that the sky was falling down.”
However, Pecora’s views have significantly changed.
“It’s not. It’s a deception. The climate always changes and has always changed. This theory that the world may end in 12 years could very well be fraudulent.”
Having entered the election campaign later than some of the other candidates, Pecora has no illusions he can win the seat.
“No, I don’t think I will win, I did start later than most. I think it’ll be Labor or Greens who will win.”