Prominent independent candidates in the federal election — many of whom pose a real to threat to incumbent Coalition MPs — are pledging to work together cooperatively in the new parliament, saying the time for political parties is moving on.
- 15 independent candidates pledge to work together in new parliament
- They have produced an ad targeting voters disillusioned with political parties
- Ad says independents are a constructive force rather than disrupters
In a video that will run across social media platforms, 13 independent candidates for the House of Representatives and two for the Senate are pushing for voters to rethink the role of independents, from being political disrupters to being forces for constructive debate at a time when voters have expressed disillusion with political parties.
“Political parties have failed us,” ACT senate candidate Anthony Pesec said in the video.
The candidates are running against a range of sitting Coalition MPs, ranging from Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce to former health minister Sussan Ley, current Health Minister Greg Hunt and Energy Minister Angus Taylor.
The video features both high-profile independent candidates former Liberal MP Julia Banks, who is running in Flinders against Mr Hunt and Zali Steggall, running against Mr Abbott in Warringah, but also some lesser known candidates such as Father Rod Bower — famous for the often provocative signs outside his church — who is running for a NSW spot in the Senate.
Their positioning is designed to differentiate them from the minor parties, too.
Many of the independents are running in regional seats, where disillusion with the Nationals has climbed, a trend confirmed in the recent NSW state election.
‘The time for political parties is moving on’
The reputation of independent MPs in Federal Parliament has changed a lot in recent years.
While the electorate once derided the so-called “three amigos” who delivered the balance of power to the Gillard government, times have changed. One of the amigos, Rob Oakeshott, is regarded as having a strong chance of taking the seat of Cowper, vacated by retiring Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker.
More recently, the role of independent MPs came into particular focus when they successfully pushed for change to the medical evacuation regime for Manus Island and Nauru last year, and forced the issue of a federal integrity commission onto the political agenda.
But campaigners on the ground in seats like Ms Ley’s, Farrer, also report that the conspicuous role played by the outgoing independent in the adjacent seat of Indi, Cathy McGowan, has helped the cause of the independent candidate running against Ms Ley.
Former Albury mayor Kevin Mack is seen as a real threat to Ms Ley, despite her holding the seat with a margin of 20 per cent.
“The time for political parties is moving on,” Ms Steggall says in the ad.
“Regional Australia needs more focus” says Adam Blakester, who is running against Barnaby Joyce in New England.
The candidates say they will be independent but “a new force in Australian politics”.
Dr Phelps says they will “cooperate and share resources where we can”, but also have the autonomy and the freedom to disagree with each other.