4 January 2024

Independents declare their candidacy for this year's Assembly elections

| Chris Johnson
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Peter Strong portrait

Peter Strong will join Ann Bray running as independents at this year’s ACT election. Photo: Supplied.

High-profile Canberrans Peter Strong and Ann Bray have declared as independent candidates for this year’s ACT Assembly elections, to be held in October.

Saying that 23 years is too long for the same party to be in power, the pair says the Assembly needs switched-on independents to help keep the government in check and reinvigorate policy discussions.

“Canberra’s government has lost its way. It has been in power too long,” they said in a statement announcing their candidacies.

“One reason is that the Liberal opposition is not yet worthy of holding government given the extremes within that party.

“[We] have had a long hard think about what needs to be done. We both agreed that we need quality independents who understand good government and excellence in policy.

“We thought we would do more than talk about it and will be nominating as candidates at the ACT election in October this year.

“Twenty-three years is too long for a party to be in power. It can become lazy and complacent. Bad habits become entrenched.

“A sense of privilege can pervade the halls of power. A belief that ‘the Libs will never win and therefore we are safe to do what we want’ exists.”

READ ALSO ACT Government agrees to consider trial of four-day work week

Mr Strong is best known for his former role as the chief executive officer of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA), a position he held for 11 years. During this time, he built a strong reputation as an advocate for small business owners.

He also used to own the famous Smiths Alternative Bookshop.

Mr Strong is a media commentator and has featured regularly in national and local news forums, including as a casual columnist for Region.

“Labor needs some time out. The Liberals aren’t a good alternative,” he said.

“It does not bode well for good government to have a weak opposition. A strong crossbench will result in better government”.

woman standing in a field

Ann Bray: “We have never seen such an upswell of concern and a groundswell for change.” Photo: Ann Bray.

Ms Bray is a trained medical scientist and has worked in the private sector and Commonwealth public service for 35 years, most recently as an Australian diplomat in Washington, DC.

She too has been a small business owner.

“We have never seen such an upswell of concern and a groundswell for change,” she said.

“We want to be part of it.”

READ ALSO New Liberals Director brings digital campaign skills

Independents have not been able to get into the Assembly since the 1998 election as the Territory’s Hare-Clark voting system makes it difficult for independents to be elected.

“We believe that just as we have seen in the Federal Parliament, there is a place for independents in the ACT Assembly as well. Strong knowledgeable independents,” the pair said.

“We will be running as we are concerned about good government. We will be analytical and evidence-based in our thinking and decision-making.

“We will consult widely. And we will be honest and ethical in our dealings. We don’t have vested interests.”

The pair have urged ACT voters to think seriously about voting for independents.

“We need at least four independents to ensure minority government forces those in power to think outside the ever-shrinking square of power,” they said.

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Capital Retro1:54 pm 07 Jan 24

D.c. Haas, you need to fix the caps lock on your keyboard.

Ann Bray is not a high-profile Canberran.

As long as Andrew Barr does not remain Chief Minister after the election, then more power to them!

Independents are just coalition partners of Labor and the Greens. You’re just voting for rubber stamping of bad policy

20 to 30 years ago houses cost about four times the average salary. Now new buyers are paying double that, or about eight times their income. It has made buying a house a massive social problem, increased inequality and taken hope of home ownership from a generation. Solutions to this problem, affecting our children and their future, is what all voters should be demanding from all politicians and especially from all aspiring politicians.

Peter Strong – wasn’t he the one who turned ‘the famous Smiths Alternative Bookshop’ into a wine bar? It was a wonderful Bookshop with a history in Canberra, but now gone. Thanks a lot – not!!

Probably didn’t sell enough books to remain viable maybe?

I prefer the Smiths Alternative as it is now, it’s a great live music venue.

It’s unlikely that any independents can win complete control of any parliament, so for an independent to be successful, they need to be able to work with either the government or the opposition (can float between the two on different issues). I don’t see anything other than negative comments from these two. Independents who only see themselves as opposers are a waste of time. Statements like “Labor need sometime out. The Liberals aren’t a good alternative” do not bode well. I want to know which policies from either Labor or the Liberals are they going to support or oppose.

HiddenDragon8:40 pm 04 Jan 24

“….23 years is too long for the same party to be in power…..”

Hard to disagree with that, even if only as a general proposition, but it is equally hard to see how an independent MLA whose stance towards light rail Stage 2B is “If it isn’t viable, I will see how it can be made viable” * could ultimately do other than support four more years of Labor government when the alternative is a Liberal party which has already committed to cancelling Stage 2B.

It’s good to see candidates of substance coming forward for the next ACT election, but voters who don’t want more of the same after that election will probably be seeking a more clear-cut choice than what looks like a local version of the Teal agenda.

* https://www.annbray.io/priorities

“Stage2B from Commonwealth Park to Woden will provide easy access to the south for workers and local residents, and I am all for public transport. The tram is a great asset, but the public hasn’t seen the business case. I will push the Assembly to have the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to confirm the tram’s economic viability. If it isn’t viable, I will see how it can be made viable.”

ChrisinTurner4:11 pm 04 Jan 24

Thank heavens we will get a bunch of independents to receive our votes.

Capital Retro4:55 pm 04 Jan 24

Let’s recall one of Stalin’s quotes namely:

“The decision will not be made by the voters but by those counting the votes”

My mate Zed and J dog Hansen knows what best for ordinary Australians…..they have had real jobs before ….my bad, my other mates are the same as A dog Barr and Chris Steel haven’t worked in small business nor held real fulltime jobs nor have children to understand what the average family is experiencing today….the options are endless……

Great hopistals. (cough) ….. below average public transport with a tram not fit for the greater majority…….

This is a big mistake if these two get voted in, they would have no idea about the current pressures on Canberrans and would not stop the hurt, that the people of the ACT are having inflected on them by Labour and independents.

Gregg Heldon1:04 pm 04 Jan 24

If they are independent, then I would hope that they are true centrists. And they would also need mates in all the electorates for us to vote for.
A loose coalition of likeminded independents would make a genuine change.
Otherwise, I fear what they say is true. Another period of this current Government.

I have yet to see a true “ independent “ in either state or federal politics. The current lot just vote Labor or Greens. Canberra is so out of touch and is consistently dismissed as a joke. It’s time for the Liberals to take power. They couldn’t do any worse…

Did you just forget what the previous nine years of LNP Govt. did to Australia? The local Libs are the most RW branch in Australia, with current members in charge of “Advance Australia”, that was one of the most prolific sources of lies about the referendum. Is that really what you want for Canberra, a RWRNJ Govt. that panders to big business, and ignores the voters?

You obviously don’t live in Canberra or if you do, you have never lived anywhere else if you think this place is well run.
The Libs are responsible for the Voice debacle you say…Of course as they managed to convince 62% of “uneducated “Australians to vote no… no responsibility lies with the inept Labor and supporters campaign. Labor incompetence federal and state wise is breath taking…

Capital Retro10:42 am 04 Jan 24

“High-profile Canberrans Peter Strong and Ann Bray…..”

I try and keep up with all that happens in Canberra but I have never heard of these two before.

You are partially right. Peter headed Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) for many years and been on the panel of The Drum quite a lot. I am however a relative unknown. Please check me out at http://www.annbray.io. Cheers, Ann

Capital Retro4:50 pm 04 Jan 24

Thanks for the direct response Ann. You appear to have had a fortunate life so far and I wish you all the best for next challenge. You will find it difficult to get support for the battlers though.

Your assumption that I am “partially right” is incorrect because although I spent most of my pre-retirement life in banking, finance and government contracting I have never heard of Peter either, nor COSBOA. I can’t see how anyone who is supposed to represent the best interests of small businesses can further their prosperity by being a regular panelist on now cancelled ABC left commentary show The Drum, either.

I recall the last batch of elected “independents” received massive funding from individuals interests with vested interests set to benefit from the outcome. Unless you have deep pockets you will need funding too and that is where you will lose credibility of being independent.

@Capital Retro
I assume when you refer to ‘the last batch of elected “independents”’, you are referring to the independents elected at the last Federal election who received funding support from the Climate 200 group?

So, you obviously have evidence to support your assertion that they “received massive funding from individuals interests with vested interests set to benefit from the outcome”. Perhaps you can provide us with details of how the “particular individuals” have benefited from the elction of these independents. Which particular legislation have the independents had amendments succesfully passed to the benefit of their backers?

Capital Retro8:46 am 05 Jan 24

“Climate 200 is an Australian company that provides political funding. It describes itself as a “community crowdfunding initiative” that supports community-backed independents to stand for election to advance climate policy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the country and limit climate change in Australia.”

I know you are politically naïve JS but surely you can read between the lines.

Capital Retro9:20 am 05 Jan 24

Here’s another clue for you JS regarding how political donations work.

“Mike Cannon-Brookes (backer of Climate 200) and his wife, Annie, made a “green pledge,” committing to spend over $1.5 billion on climate initiatives by 2030. Grok Ventures has invested in renewable energy company Sun Cable, which is developing infrastructure to store solar power in Australia and move it to Singapore. Grok Ventures also backed WeaveGrid, a San Francisco-based electric-vehicle software start-up.”

@Capital Retro
OMG – you mean these dastardly reprobates are funding candidates so they can push an ‘action on climate change’ agenda, CR? How dare they? And to have the audacity to be a “community crowdfunding initiative” in a democracy? Well that’s obviously beyond the pale – especially the fact that the identity of the donors is totally transparent via the Climate 200 website.

As usual, CR, there’s nothing to see here – just you squawking about anything related to action on climate change.

I don’t need to “read between the lines”, CR – for, as you have cited, their “motives” are pretty obvious.

Capital Retro11:20 am 05 Jan 24

Yes JS, sometimes you have to roll with the punches.

@Capital Retro
Hmmm nice cherry picking of semi-facts, CR.
Grok Ventures plan is to supply Darwin first(by 2030) and then export to Singapore by early 2030s.
Wow, creating a future export market for renewable energy – shameful. Obviously you have an issue with forward planning.

They will do zip, just get the stonking big salary and make a few announcements

I welcome Peter and Ann joining the running, as it’s true that the current options are either too entrenched too “see the wood from the trees” or too inexperienced to make a difference. I look forward to hearing more on their platforms.

Thanks Stuart – if I get in I will work really hard. See my policies on http://www.annbray.io. Cheers

Adults are back in charge on Capital Hill11:23 am 04 Jan 24

As long as you are not a teal independent. You worked in the APS, so you know this a progressive, left leaning town. Don’t go trying to the change that for your own political benefit, or if your roots are more conservative entrenched.

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