27 April 2024

Coming town halls to decide Independents for Canberra party's lead candidates

| Ian Bushnell
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Independents for Canberra secretary and potential candidate for Kurrajong Thomas Emerson says the party has attracted a diverse mix of possible candidates. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The Independents for Canberra party will begin the final phase of its candidate selection process with a series of town hall meetings starting on Sunday (28 April) in which prospects will make their pitches and answer questions.

Fourteen have passed the party’s initial vetting and will vie to be the lead candidates in October’s election across the ACT’s five electorates.

Party secretary and potential candidate for Kurrajong Thomas Emerson said Independents for Canberra should have its lead team finalised by the second half of May, with support candidates to be added to tickets later.

He said the goal was to have two lead candidates in each electorate if they measured up in the selection process.

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Mr Emerson said the group was a diverse mix of men and women from different ethnic backgrounds, which was exactly what the party had hoped for.

There was close to a 50/50 gender split, including people from the public service, police, business, and academic and activist backgrounds.

“I was launching this not knowing if we would get interest from every electorate, and we have,” Mr Emerson said.

“I’m really stoked about it, with some high-quality people who want to see change for the right reasons.”

The candidates will make a seven-minute pitch and then face 18 minutes of questions from the floor.

The selection committee, which was working at arm’s length from Mr Emerson, will then meet to decide who to endorse.

“Then all endorsed candidates, and the committee will come together to have a strategic conversation about people’s capacity to run and electability, so we’re all on the same page,” Mr Emerson said.

Inspired by the success of Senator David Pocock and the Teals, Independents for Canberra launched in January. They said Canberra voters were frustrated with what the major parties were offering and wanted a more responsive government.

It has since been conducting town hall meetings and recruiting potential candidates.

“We’re hearing that Canberrans are tired of the traditional political model,” Mr Emerson said.

“They’re sick of ‘the politics’ getting in the way of the truth. They want politicians to take meaningful action on issues that affect their lives rather than occupying themselves with political point scoring.

“We’re already feeling a real groundswell of support for this movement across the city. People see independents as the way forward.”

However, they will not be the only independents contesting the election, and Chief Minister Andrew Barr has warned that independents who fudge what they stood for probably have another agenda.

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The electorate town halls start with Brindabella on Sunday, 28 April, from 4 pm to 6 pm in the Tuggeranong Community Centre, Greenway.

Kurrajong and Murrumbidgee follow on Tuesday, 30 April, from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Polish Club in Turner.

Ginninderra and Yerrabi will close the process on Thursday, 2 May, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Holy Covenant Anglican Church in Cook.

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Yup, candidate vetting for a party of ‘independents’. NewSpeak is alive and well.

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