18 January 2024

Woden champion Fiona Carrick to lead independents' push in Murrumbidgee

| Ian Bushnell
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Fiona Carrick in the Woden Town Centre:

Fiona Carrick in the Woden Town Centre: “I think the electorate would like to see more diverse views in the Legislative Assembly that can debate issues and bring forward views that are not tied to party politics.” Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Fiona Carrick has stepped away from leading the Woden Valley Community Council to start recruiting a team of independent candidates to contest the Murrumbidgee electorate at the ACT election in October.

Ms Carrick, who ran as an independent in 2020, garnering a healthy 3783 votes or 7 per cent, led the council for almost seven years and has handed the reins over to former Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur.

She won’t rule herself in or out on whether her name will be on the ballot paper, saying the election was still 10 months away. Instead, her focus was on sounding out people in the community interested in local issues who would consider running as a team of independents or supporting their campaign.

Her probable second bid for an Assembly seat appears part of a developing movement of independents taking on the established parties.

Ms Carrick said many people were dissatisfied with the current Legislative Assembly and the level of service they were getting.

“I think people want to see more ambition for the social and economic development of their local areas,” she said.

That included Woden Town Centre, where she has long championed greater planning for social and recreational facilities, but also hubs across the Murrumbidgee electorate and Canberra generally.

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Ms Carrick said the government was taking too long to deliver the proposed commercial centre in Molonglo, where services have taken a long time to catch up with population growth.

“It’s critical that it services the social and economic needs of the Molonglo residents and draws them together as a community and supports them as a community,” she said.

Ms Carrick was confident that there would be a strong showing by independents in October.

“I think the independents will be taken more seriously this time,” Ms Carrick said. “I think the electorate would like to see more diverse views in the Legislative Assembly that can debate issues and bring forward views that are not tied to party politics.”

But her push in Murrumbidgee was not connected to the independent duo of Peter Strong, who will run in Kurrajong, and Ann Bray, who, coincidentally, will run in Murrumbidgee.

Nor was there any particular group or individual behind her initiative.

Caroline Le Couteur

New Woden Valley Community Council President Caroline Le Couteur: The government must take the community seriously. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

She would not say if anybody had been sounded out, but over the coming months, a website would be set up, a call would go out for likely candidates interested in local issues, and she would be visiting areas across the electorate to drum up support.

Mr Carrick said her team would not direct preferences.

“I will be asking voters to vote number one for credible independents, and then it’s up to them where they’d like to see their preferences go,” she said.

The past seven years had been a fantastic learning experience but increasingly frustrating when dealing with the government.

“It’s time for a change from the council,” she said.

Her replacement, Ms Le Couteur, said she was happy as a supporter of community involvement to step in to give Ms Carrick a break and to keep the council running, especially in an election year.

She said it was important that community-based forums got a look-in, not just political ones.

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Keeping the community abreast of what’s on offer and what the various parties and candidates are standing for would be a priority, but the council was also organising a public forum on public transport for April.

“It’s not going to be a meeting saying ‘for the tram or against the tram’, that’s not the issue,” she said. “The issue is getting a good public transport system for the people of Woden, in particular, and Canberra, in general.”

How the new planning system would actually work in practice and advocating for music venues and sporting facilities in Woden were also on her list.

Ms Le Couteur said community councils had room for improvement but still offered much to the people they represented and the government.

She hoped there would be much better consultation under whatever new government was elected.

“The important thing is to take the community seriously and not just have online one-on-one conversations or non-conversations, which are not working for many people in the community,” she said.

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Well done Fiona, a true advocate of Woden. Murrumbidgee residents should really consider individuals who will fight for our causes not just along party lines.

Ian De Landelles3:34 pm 20 Jan 24

Fiona Carrick, or those advising her, show considerable political acumen by not immediately announcing her candidacy, thus ensuring she receives more media attention in the leadup to her inevitable nomination, either as an independent or on a ticket similar to the Residents Rally which was prominent in the early days of self government. Paul Osborne’s strategists did the same by staging his nomination when he initially ran for the Assembly. Undoubtedly there will be a Melbourne Cup sized field of independents nominating for the LA as people start to focus on October 19.

I am not sure whether to look back on the days of the Residents Rally with amusement or horror! At least they kept us entertained!

The complicated voting system back then meant that it took two months for the Electoral office to finalise and announce the party’s final candidate! They supported Labor to form government then switched to the Liberals after successfully bringing on a no confidence motion against Labor leader Rosemary Follett. They then formed a male dominated coalition with the Liberals and the No Self Government Party. They were expelled from the Liberals and formed another alliance with Labor. The most notable and public disputes were over development, gambling, the Casino, pornographic videos, education and the hospital.

They had significant power but lost in 1992 leaving only Independent Michael Moore who had already left the party. The most remarkable of all of this was these parties were all men vying for power, but Kate Carnell emerged in 1996 to become the Liberals most successful and only ever Chief Minister with Independent Michael Moore becoming Health Minister in her government!

I look forward to seing the policy platform of Ms Carrick and/or her group of independents. It would appear that there are some good people putting themselves forward as alternatives to the major party / Green nexus. Nevertheless, to break that nexus independents will need to show they are running on more than a “not Labor/Green/Liberal party” ticket.

The Murrumbidgee electorate has the best chance of electing the first independent to our Assembly in over two decades! This electorate proved they can do it in 2020, with the first preference votes putting Ms Carrick in fourth position, just behind stand out Labor MLA Dr Marisa Paterson.

Unfortunately, Ms Carrick lost to the Hare-Clark voting system.

2024 is the time to do it Murrumbidgee!!

Interesting Jack,
in 2020, Fiona was in the race only because the major parties had a number of candidates cannibalising each other’s votes until they were excluded and preference flows given.
The last member elected was the Green’s Emma Davidson, with your standout Ms Paterson elected 4th.

Would you prefer a first past the post system?

Ms Carrick will need a few thousand extra votes/preferences if she wants to win. Do-able, but based on historical voting, it would be most likely at the expense of the Greens member.

Congrats and all power to you Fiona. We need more like you. They do not have the money for lowly facilities-one sitting MLA told me, whilst they get wet dreams over the tram which will do nothing to secure better patronage. $1.715B for 2A/450K residents-do the math. That is what this will cost your back pocket for this Hire Purchase drama. Do you really want that? More power to the Independents.

“A team of independents”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Melinda Kouparitsas12:20 pm 09 May 24

Unfortunately as Jack said above, the only way for the Independents to not just lose to the Hare-Clark voting system is to give each other preferences (or lose to the big parties doing exactly that).

Good luck to all the independents. We need to get rid of the Barr/Greens government, and the Libs are nowhere near ready while the Zed influence remains.

If any region was ripe to be plucked by independents, its Woden. They get absolutely nothing except high-rise approvals and no amenities to cater for the extra population. (Where I am in Belco has much the same, but is far better appointed to begin with.)
Even the tram will be a slower service to Civic than the buses are, presumably because that’s what Gungahlin wants.

Is she not declaring her candidacy yet to avoid having to declare campaign HQ in Lovett Tower is provided by a developer?

It will be great to have some decent alternatives. The current pelicans representative us don’t care about the community & aren’t worth feeding.

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