15 March 2024

Independents for Canberra registered and building candidate list

| Ian Bushnell
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Independents for Canberra secretary and candidate Thomas Emerson addresses the Kurrajong community meeting last month: people want change. Photo: Facebook.

After a successful Kurrajong electorate community meeting in Turner last month, Independents for Canberra is gearing up for meetings in Murrumbidgee on 17 March and Yerrabi a week later, confident it is building momentum towards the ACT election later in the year.

Now officially registered as a political party, the independents push modelled on Senator David Pocock’s successful Senate campaign is out meeting the people and fielding dozens of bids from people wanting to run under its banner in October.

Party secretary and its only official candidate, Thomas Emerson, said that interest so far had come from a broad spectrum of Canberrans including small business owners, former police officers, health care workers and those involved in community organisations.

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Senior Commonwealth public servant Anne-Louise Dawes put her hand up as a potential candidate and the party was excited to have attracted someone of that calibre.

Mr Emerson said it was expected that candidates would be finalised by mid-May or June after an endorsement process overseen by the Independents for Canberra organisation rather than a preselection vote, which he said could be manipulated.

This would give the party time to whittle down the list and then plumb for a final selection across the five electorates.

Mr Emerson said the party hoped to have a minimum of two to five candidates in each electorate to maximise its chances.

He said candidates would have to commit to the party’s 10 core principles and present to the community to “stress test” their suitability for the job.

The party would also reserve the right to disendorse candidates who didn’t measure up.

woman smiling

Senior public servant Anne-Louise Dawes is a likely candidate for 19 October. Photo: LinkedIn.

Independents for Canberra had achieved its minimum 100 members to be registered by Elections Canberra, and had attracted about 50 volunteers so far, a good and growing base, Mr Emerson said.

The Kurrajong meeting had drawn a better-than-expected 60 people.

“A lot of Canberrans want the same sorts of things – a livable city as it grows, those fundamental responsibilities of health care, education, and housing – they want them ticked off and for us to be solid in those areas,” he said.

Mr Emerson said they want to be part of the conversation about their aspirations for Canberra.

“But that conversation doesn’t appear to be there on either side of politics,” he said.

“Above all, it’s time for a time for a change. We’ve had the same government for a long time but they don’t really want the opposite. They want something different.”

Mr Emerson said people wanted health care and education that led the nation and was available to all, and serious housing solutions.

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Interestingly, small business owners were looking beyond the Canberra Liberals for someone to take up their cause in the current difficult trading climate, especially on policy settings that made it harder to stay in business, such as payroll tax and no-limit workers’ compensation, which fed into higher premiums, and portable long service leave.

Mr Emerson said they didn’t feel the government was listening to them or responding to their needs.

Ginninderra and Brindabella could look forward to community meetings early in April.

Elections ACT said Independents for Canberra on 8 March became the 13th party to be registered for the 19 October poll.

The others are: Animal Justice Party; ACT Labor; the Belco Party; Canberra Progressives; David Pollard Independent; Democratic Labour Party (DLP); Liberal Democratic Party; Canberra Liberals; Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party; Sustainable Australia Party – Stop Overdevelopment / Corruption; ACT Greens; and Community Action Party.

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Ray Polglaze3:36 pm 15 Mar 24

If you take a long term perspective on ACT elections, there is an increasing sense of unreality about the Independents for Canberra campaign for the 2024 ACT election.

If the candidates are not selected until mid-June, that provides only four months to mount a campaign for the election in mid-October.

ACT elections run very much on name and face recognition. That’s why the current MLAs have spent the last four years building their profile with almost daily photo ops.

It’s going to be very difficult for independent candidates to build a profile in four months. By June, the only independent candidates with any prospect of being elected would be people who already have a very high profile in the ACT community.

The relatively short campaign by David Pocock worked in large part because he already had a very high profile in the ACT community from his career as a rugby player.

But, here are very few people in the ACT who could bring to an election campaign an established profile with the same name and face recognition as Pocock.

@Ray Polglaze
Fair point … we saw that a couple of fedceral elections ago when Anthony Pesic stood as a conservative independent (effectively against Seselja). I thought he had a good chance of success, but because he lacked a real public profile his results were quite disappointing.

Having said that, the fact that these candidates will have their own group (“Independents for Canberra”) on the ballot paper could give them a little leg up – especially as Labor/Greens are generally on the nose with a lot of the electorate but there’s a reticence when it comes to the Libs.

Mind you, 4 months is a long time in an election campaign and if these independents can get their pitch (and policy platform) right then you never know ….

So, Emerson is a candidate even though they haven’t done their ‘candidate endorsement’ process yet? Anne-Louise Dawes is not a candidate but she might be a candidate? This Political Party does not seem to actually know what it’s doing.

@Mary Taylor
Emerson had announced he was running as an independent candidate in the ACT election quite some time ago.

Can I suggest you read the article to which Craig has provided a link below. If you do, you will find “the party” was registered to give community independents a column on the ballot paper, because it’s almost impossible to get elected in the ACT’s Hare-Clark system without their own column.
In much the same way, Pocock ran as an independent Senate candidate at the last federal election but registered as a party to be able to ‘access’ above the line voting.

So in fact it seems to be the opposite, this “Political Party” knows exactly what it’s doing.

Thomas Emerson, do you have a position on the growing ACT Government deficits and debt? Your 10 core principles don’t indicate a position on economic matters.

According to Stanhope and Ahmed “Interest costs are now forecast to reach $684.4 million in 2026-27, which is 7.5 per cent of total expenditure.”
“However, the chief minister’s problem is not the revenue side of the budget, as in fact, the ACT is already the highest taxing jurisdiction in Australia. The real problem is the runaway expenditure, and quality of that spending.”

Sanity check: a party called “Independents for Canberra”. What can we expect from these politicians when they exhibit such prowess with double-speak? I wonder which way Winston Smith will vote?

You might want to check out their 10 principles. (https://canberradaily.com.au/independents-for-canberra-candidates-in-every-electorate/) They’re independent but using party registration to give an improved chance to candidates under the Hare-Clark system

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