Politics with Michelle Grattan: The push to run independents on issues of climate and integrity

The Conversation Podcast, 29th September, 2021; 36 mins

With the 2022 election looming, local activists are mobilising in many government seats to sponsor independent candidates. The push – stronger and more organised since the 2019 election – is driven especially by concerns about climate change and integrity issues, as well as the general declining faith in the major parties.

Michelle speaks with Simon Holmes à Court and Cathy McGowan.

There will be substantial money and campaigning help for the more viable independent candidates. Businessman Simon Holmes à Court, with his Climate 200, is putting together a war chest that currently has more than $1.5 million, while former independent member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, who pioneered the “Voices” movement, is assisting local groups with advice on how to mobilise support.

Asked why people have shifted towards campaigns such as ‘Voices of’, Holmes à Court says these groups “are being set up by people who feel really let down”. He says expected target seats include Wentworth, North Sydney and Mackellar in Sydney, and Flinders, Kooyong and Goldstein in Melbourne. Hume (NSW) may be also on the list. “There is a very strong ‘vote Angus [Taylor] out’ group [that] makes that an interesting seat as well.”

Noting many of the “Voices” groups are in safe seats, McGowan says “there’s a sense that if you’re in a marginal seat, you get better service from either the government or the opposition. But if you’re in a safe seat for either of those teams, you get missed out on… [the locals] want better representation and then they want more, certainly on policy areas”.

She points out crossbenchers can be “really effective. […] And I think people like the calibre of the crossbench. And in many cases they’re much, much more effective than a backbench, either in the opposition or in the government.”


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