22 May 2024

Why a star Independents for Canberra candidate for Brindabella quit Labor

| Ian Bushnell
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Independents for Canberra candidates in Brindabella Nicole Lawsonn and Dr Vanessa Picker. Photos: IFC.

Freshly endorsed Independent for Canberra candidate for Brindabella Dr Vanessa Picker has only recently quit the Labor Party but insists she wouldn’t be running if she wasn’t a real independent.

Dr Picker said she was a Labor member for several years, first in NSW and then mainly in the UK with ALP Abroad, but she says her political ambitions met a shut door with Labor and found the party was not a “particularly open system”.

She found there was a lot of stifling of ideas and even overlooking of evidence, something that chafed given her expertise was in evidence-based policy.

“Over time, I became more and more disillusioned with the two-party system,” she said.

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But she said it was good to have a mix of people involved in Independents for Canberra, including those with experience in the major parties.

Dr Picker maintained her Labor ties have been severed.

“If I still had an allegiance to the Labor Party, I wouldn’t be running as an independent,” she said.

“Voters are clued in to independents who aren’t truly independent.”

She remains undecided about whether she would support the Liberal Party in the Legislative Assembly if it came to a vote, but she is keeping an open mind.

Recently, Dr Picker returned to Canberra from the UK. Dr Picker is an Erindale College graduate who studied at the University of Oxford and attained a PhD in Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation.

She has worked as a government policy adviser, is a high-level cricketer, a former Young Australian of the Year finalist, and is currently doing some work with the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Dr Vanessa Picker on the drive. She made headlines campaigning for Oxford’s women cricketers to play at Lords.

Dr Picker hopes to apply her skills in evidence-based policymaking to pursue effective solutions to the Territory’s problems.

She also wants to bring her own direct experience of domestic abuse, gender-based discrimination and mental health challenges to the table and speak out on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves.

As a cricketer, Dr Picker had to contend with a backlash from the Oxford University club for campaigning for women to play the annual varsity match at Lords, like the men.

She has also struggled at times with depression and anxiety as a result of that discrimination and domestic abuse.

Returning to Canberra, she sensed that many people were unhappy with the current government and that party politics had failed to deliver the change that was needed.

On the hot-button issue of light rail, she believed the project had lost credibility due to the long delays but that a public transport situation of some kind was needed.

Dr Picker plans to move to the Brindabella electorate where she grew up.

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Dr Picker is one of two marque candidates endorsed for Brindabella. The other is former public servant and consultant Nicole Lawsonn.

Ms Lawsonn is a Kambah resident who grew up in Fadden after arriving in Canberra in 1985.

After a long career in the Australian Public Service, she is now a management consultant and facilitator.

Ms Lawsonn said the people of Tuggeranong felt ignored by the ACT Government and promised she would be an advocate for them.

“I will fight for investment in Tuggeranong’s infrastructure, schools, shops and playgrounds,” Ms Lawsonn said.

“Brindabella has been neglected for too long. We need more attention paid to the south for our community to thrive.

“I want to make Tuggeranong safer for children, easier for the older population and more accessible for those with a disability. We also need better service delivery and support for small businesses to prosper here.”

Independents for Canberra is announcing its candidates after a series of town hall meetings where potential candidates made their pitches and were questioned by voters.

It is still to announce a running mate for Mark Richardson in Ginninderra, and candidates for Murrumbidgee, Yerrabi and Kurrajong.

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Incidental Tourist7:01 pm 23 May 24

This is evidence of deep cracks within “not a particularly open” Canberra Labor camp. “Politburo political intrigues are comparable to a bulldog fight under a rug. An outsider only hears the growling, and when he sees the bones fly out from beneath it is obvious who won.” ― Winston S. Churchill

My brother in law got a letter from Brindabella Labor candidate Taimus Werner Gibbings that said “I reckon Tuggeranong gets its fair share of resources and funding”.

Then he goes on to list his promises for Tuggeranong that have all featured in multiple previous election promises for Tuggeranong without ever being delivered. I’m surprised he didn’t promise a Unicorn for all school children.

Southside hydrotherapy pool
Tuggeranong ice sports facility
Duplication of Athllon drive
The list goes on…

How can he claim that Tuggeranong gets its fair share of funding when the region been ignored for two decades, Tuggers has been stripped of its community services, public schools and bus services and his party have been using Tuggeranong taxpayer funds to invest in other areas of the city.
Talk about a politician completely disconnected from reality.

Confirming what anybody with common sense already knew. All these “independents for Canberra” lot are not even close to independent. They are strategic plants.

@Ken M
OK – so don’t vote for her then! Oh wait … *face palm*

Strategic plants? Like a Venus flytrap?

More like one of the ones that smell like a rotting corpse, benny. Very on the nose.

As you can see, one of our resident shills has rushed to her aid. LOL

@Ken M
You talked about common sense – obviously not referring to yourself then. I didn’t ‘rush to her aid’ – I advised you not to vote for her, hardly the advice her accomplice would offer. Though I have seen previously, that comprehension is not one of your major attributes.

It’s the ‘Independent Party’… Feels like an oxymoron.

Margaret Freemantle4:06 am 23 May 24

Interesting all the Labor bashers when Canberra has just been voted the second most livable city in the world.

Capital Retro9:48 pm 22 May 24

A “star”? I’ve never heard of her and I’ve been in Canberra for over 40 years.

agree, seems a bit of an odd description

@Capital Retro
So what? How many ACT political candidates, other than the one you worked for, did you know before they ran for office?

Capital Retro4:34 pm 23 May 24

JS, we are talking about “stars”, not “black holes” where most of you comments appear to emanate from.

Oh you mean the “black hole” you used to work for?

This is great. Bring on the election.

My view is dr Marisa Patterson should also quit Labor and run as an Independent. The old Labor guard are pretty much useless and are stifling younger and more progressive members. I actually suggested personally to her that she run as an Independent when she first ran for the Legislative Assembly. I said I could not vote for her if it meant helping keeping both Barr and Rattenbury in power. And anyway, Barr is too old by his own admission in years past as he is over 40!

Oh dear, an independent thinker who believes in evidence based decisions. A bit of a challenge for all existing parties who could not accept logical analysis or free thinking.

Yes, Dr Picker is certainly striking the right chord with her opening salvo.

And who is funding them? The usual billionaires who rent seek from governments or are they truly self-funded independents?

Billionaires fund Federal politicians for the Senate or the House of Reps, not local ACT ones for the Legislative Assembly.

If they’re lucky, maybe the owner of the local fish and chip shop is funding them with half price chips.

“recently quit the Labor party” and “real independent” are mutually exclusive concepts

On the contrary, Mary, quitting any party is a sure sign of real independence. Try it!

the key word here is ‘recently’

Quit the Labor Party to join the independent party. Makes sense lol

Should have asked her who she will support as CM – Barr or Lee?

GrumpyGrandpa6:48 pm 22 May 24

And that is the problem.

If people don’t want to vote ALP/Greens but can’t vote for the Canberra Libs they might vote Independent, not realising the bias that the candidate might bring.

I can’t imagine that a long-standing ALP member not voting with the ALP.

Mr Parton ran as an Independent and is now a member of the Canberra Liberals.

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