Heart attack survivor hits the ground running

Alan Lappin on the campaign trail.
A heart attack forced Independent candidate Alan Lappin to drop out of the last federal election but he is still determined to run again this year. Holley Gawne reports.

Alan Lappin says he “couldn’t walk 10 metres properly” after a heart attack forced him to withdraw from the last federal election.

But the Independent candidate says he has made a full recovery since the heart attack outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2013 and has “hit the ground running” in his third campaign for the north east Victorian seat.

Lappin, 64, who received 5.8 per cent of the vote when he first ran in 2010, says he believes the result helped to inspire the campaign for Independent Cathy McGowan at the following election.

He says that in 2010 he was told it was impossible for an Independent to succeed in a conservative seat such as Indi and his primary vote “was the genesis for Cathy and the Voice for Indi group.”

Lappin says McGowan is “far from independent” in her policies.

“I see Cathy as a political chameleon,” he says. “She comes from a blue blood Liberal background … whereas I’ve come into this because of my deep concern regarding the future of our children.”

The Rutherglen-based grandfather of nine previously worked in communications for Telstra. He sold a small business to support himself through university. He graduated from La Trobe University with an environmental science degree and completed a course in town planning before finishing his studies in 2010.

“I certainly was terrified to go back in my fifties, it was like climbing Mount Everest,” he says of the university studies.

But he says that after reading about political issues such as global warming and the rising pay gap, he couldn’t ignore his urge to be actively engaged in Australian politics.

“My main purpose in politics and in life full stop is protecting our planet and children, sharing and caring … I live for my kids and grandkids,” he says.

“I want to yell out that we need to stop heading into an impoverished lifestyle, one with slave labour and a lack of employment.”

Not one to shy away from a controversial opinion, on a blogpost for his website he likened the coalition’s treatment of asylum seekers to “Hitler’s Germany”.

He says poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse, and crime have increased in the electorate, in part due to “the incompetence of our local members of parliament”.

In a statement on his website, he says that his policies are mainly concerned with agriculture, environmental issues, humanitarian issues and infrastructure planning.

“It is essential that the disadvantaged, the marginalised … and our kids are cared for and given a fair go, as that is the revolution Australia needs,” he says.

He claims there has been a “virtual blackout” on articles about his campaign in the electorate’s local media.

However, he remains optimistic, saying: “I get a bit nervous, but everyone does. My success in the 2010 election proves that an Independent can actually achieve something in Indi.”