From crime to campaigns: Mick Calatzis runs for Canberra Liberals

Veteran policeman Mick Calatzis will be a Canberra Liberals candidate for the electorate of Kurrajong (central Canberra), running alongside opposition leader Elizabeth Lee at October’s election.

Ms Lee believes that Detective Superintendent Calatzis, who had “dedicated his entire working life to protecting and serving the community”, would be “a formidable asset to the Canberra Liberals team”.

Det. Supt. Calatzis celebrated his 40th year of service with the Australian Federal Police last month, much of that time in Canberra. He began his police career in Belconnen, and is now in charge of the North Canberra District.

“I don’t know Canberra nine-to-five; I know Canberra 24/7, 365,” Det. Supt. Calatzis said.

“I have lived and worked in Kurrajong for over 30 years; my children went to schools in the district as well; and I’m a long-standing Kurrajong resident.”

Det. Supt. Calatzis was seconded to the New Zealand police in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake, as AFP operational commander, for which he received the Humanitarian Overseas Medal. He was also sent on United Nations missions to Mozambique and to Timor-Leste, as Deputy Commander of the Australian Police Contingent. He established the joint AFP and Northern Territory Police Force child abuse taskforce.

The first Greek Australian police officer in the AFP, Det. Supt. Calatzis chairs the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) network in the AFP. He received the Cross of St. Andrew, the highest accolade in the Greek Orthodox Church, for his dedication, distinguished police service, and his service to the Australian community.

Det. Supt. Calatzis is also executive director of the Phoenix Rising Foundation, a charity that creates free retreats for homeless broken veterans, servicemen and women, first responders, and abused, neglected, suicidal, and homeless children.

Det. Supt. Calatzis said he felt it was the right decision to run for politics.

“I’ve always been of the adage that you keep on doing the same thing, and you get the same result; you have to change. I want to be part of that change…

“Let’s get the basics right. Canberrans enjoy a good quality of life, but I think lately, they’ve seen things that aren’t going that well. Cost of living: Canberrans are doing it tough. I’ve never seen so many homeless people as well. And fundamentally, everybody in Canberra has a right for shelter, has a right to live a good life, and to live a safe life as well.”

As a senior policeman, Det. Supt. Calatzis believed Canberra needed more police, and infrastructure and support for emergency services.

“I’m very passionate about the mental health for frontline workers as well. We’ve just seen an … incident in another jurisdiction; regardless, all those frontline workers, all 65,000 of them, are going through a lot of pain… Canberra is not immune to that as well. It’s important that we support our frontline to make sure that Canberrans are safe. It’s that simple.”

Canberra’s prosperity, and cutting red tape for business, is another concern. “My parents come from business (they ran a fish and chips shop in Perth), and all my family. Business is about life, … about commerce, … about getting people jobs, and … about having confidence, as well.”

Det. Supt. Calatzis missed out on preselection in February, but has been endorsed to fill a vacancy created by the withdrawal of Dr Jerry Nockles, Deputy CEO of Independent Higher Education Australia and Royal Australian Navy veteran, who is aiming at the Senate.

Canberra Weekly columnist Bill Stefaniak, former Canberra Liberals leader and Attorney-General, said he was “delighted” by this week’s announcement. He had been concerned Det. Supt. Calatzis was not selected earlier this year; in his opinion, the Greek Australian policeman would have ensured the Liberals got a second seat in Kurrajong.

“The Assembly needs quality candidates regardless of their political persuasion, and Mick is one of the best I’ve seen put their hand up for election over the last 10 years or so,” Mr Stefaniak said today.

“He would make an excellent member for Kurrajong and a good minister should the government of the ACT change after October 2024.

“The announcement that Jerry Nockles will now contest the Liberal senate preselection (rather than Assembly elections) is also a good move, as he has in my view the ability and experience, including as a former RAN officer, to make a good senator for the ACT. Mind you, the two present incumbent senators for the ACT will be hard to shift.”

The Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) stated: “The AFPA has a long-standing position of political neutrality, however we are immensely proud of Mick and his decision to continue his fine tradition of community service by standing for preselection with the Canberra Liberals.”

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