Sunday, January 8, 2012

Independence.....what it means to me.

The Council elections are heating up....already! Over the past few weeks there has been much talk on the Independent versus Team debate and further talk regarding what actually makes an Independent. There is also much conversation referring to campaign funds and the specifics on where they come from.

There are obvious pros and cons for both initial options and the reasons for Candidates choosing which way they will go are unique and individual. I cannot speak for a single other candidate and refuse to enter into debate about the opponents in my own Division regarding their choices and their funding. I am not them.

What I will do though, is use this forum as a tool to explain my own choices and to give those interested a firm understanding of why I made them. Generally, this blog is for interests outside my own front door and I frankly prefer to extend my view outward rather than inward. In this instance I will turn the microscope onto myself in an effort to halt any ill-conceived notions that may exist out there.

It is common knowledge that I am running my Campaign as an Independent. So, what does that mean? Am I a member of a political party?

Those who read this blog regularly will know that yes, I am. I am a member of the ALP. During State elections held later this year, I will be voting for Curtis Pitt. Frankly, if I was not a member of the party I'd still be voting for Curtis as I believe he is doing his job extremely well and the community has benefited from his work.

Federally, there have been instances where I have been very disappointed in decisions made. However, I choose to remain part of the party and work from within to remind people of the core values of the ALP.

And that is where my affiliation with the ALP becomes relevant to this conversation. I joined the Labor Party because of it's core principles. The ALP should stand up for the worker and their rights, offer small business support, work for social equality and inclusion and community building through infrastructure and supportive services. All things I am known for being passionate about. It's these principles which I will be taking with me in the role of Councillor.

So, why did I choose not to run as part of a team?

For me, there were a few reasons for that. One was my firm belief that Council should always remain independent of party politics. My principles will remain as they are, with or without party membership, but there is no place in Council Chambers for ALP policy.

Council is the first tier of Government. It is the most accessible and the most connected with the community we live in. That being the case, it should directly reflect the views of the community, not just the person that they elected.

Secondly, I chose independence because I wish to retain the right to think and act independently, according to what the needs are of this community. In this case, running as part of a 'mixed' team was also not an option for me. A mixed team is usually made up primarily of one particular political leaning...right or left....with the odd member who gives the team the ability to reject the idea that they are politically affiliated with each other.

My personal opinion on this idea, is that it is misleading and is far too engineered.

I'm all for collaboration and there are many candidates who have announced they are running who I believe share my values and principles, but aligning myself with people I do not share those ideals with would essentially be a lie. Making decisions primarily on the basis of securing a win is no longer a viable option.

People are smarter than that. They will look at their Candidates with a discerning eye and judge them based on who they are, what they stand for and how well they believe they will represent them in the job. Collaboration with the community should always be the first step (and is the most important) for any representative.

That makes honesty paramount. I could not do something during the course of this campaign that did not sit right with me or my community. If elected, I will continue to make decisions which sit right for those I represent.

That is the basis of my decision to run as an Independent. Because that is exactly what I will be. An independent thinker, with the needs of my Division and the wider community the first concern, at all times.

I've mentioned many times that collaboration is key to a successful Council. It's true. This is why I would hope that all those who vote take that into account. Choose those you believe have the ability to collaborate. But even more importantly, those who share ideals and views with YOU. The voter. Because ultimately, if you choose representatives who are in a team based only on that idea, you may well end up with representatives who are making decisions that you do not want them to make.

As for funding of a campaign. I'm not sure how many of you know how expensive running a campaign can get. For me, the corflutes, flyers, business cards and calling cards have already cost quite a bit. There is still more to do, and more money to part with, before March rolls around. Some are lucky enough to have savings set aside for this purpose. They are therefore able to fully fund their own campaign. That's fantastic. It's always preferable to be able to do that.

I do not have that luxury. Like many others living in this area, I live in a household with three small children, household expenses, vehicle expenses and a mortgage. I have only accepted donations for my campaign from friends and family and all have given small amounts. I will continue to accept donations from those who wish to support me but will absolutely NOT be taking any money from developers or from businesses. It is heartening that many wish to help out in some way toward my campaign and the offers of assistance have so far ranged from letter folding, door-knocking and leaflet delivery, to offering to hand out How To Vote Cards and donating $50 to purchases of t-shirts.

All of these people have been encouraging of my efforts and I believe they have contributed for the right reasons. If you live in a Division with a Candidate who is going it alone and you believe they will represent you well if elected, I urge you to contact them and offer your support. It's a long, tough road, which can be made easier by knowing that the community has your support.

Ok. That's me and my campaign in a nutshell. I'm sure there are more questions I will need to answer as time goes by and I will endeavour to do that outside of this forum. In direct conversation or via alternate media. In this case, the answer being a detailed one, I felt that this option was more suitable.

Thank you to all those who have offered support and guidance over the past few months. Your assistance has been invaluable. I look forward to continuing to campaign with all of you right beside me and hope that all of your hard work pays off with good results on election night.


  1. Thanks Leigh, There is there is no black and white in terms of teams and independents. What we have is a broad mix of candidates with varying levels of allegiance and independence - E.G. Some independents may be working clandestinely in an alliance with others, while some teams may misleadingly claim apolitical status. However what should set the tone of debate is the Local Government Act which calls for a collegiate approach to governance. Whatever the composition of council, councillors should work together and as candidates they need to prove they are capable of this.

  2. You have to be Independant as when you belong to a party you must stick to the party line and the major parties do not have local government policies to stick to. If you do then you become basically a puppet as Margaret Cochrane is. I mean why not just have Warren Enscht do her job if he is going to be dictating how she votes on issues? then how can she tell us how he will vote on anything if Federal parties have no local policies? Although many Liberals approve massive government spending cuts individuals will have divergent views on how taxpayer money is spent. A Liberal NP farmer in Babinda will have very different requests than a Port Douglas Liberal retiree who days involve golf and lunch for eg. Both may agree on cuts and Federal politics is suited to such vague commonalities but local government need to be far more precise so the liberal/labor machines simply are not relevant. In fact, I believe other divisions are far more relevant to local government than major party politics. CEP maybe a good example. Centrists from both sides support it but the farmer on the LNP side and the struggling single mother on the left may both agree we do not need it while the lefty urban educated professor and the Liberal Malcolm Turnbull type will welcome such a progressive project. You simply cannot label local politics Liberal or Labor and you are doing the only right thing by being Independant. However we do need someone that can articulate that divisions along party lines are fabricated and should not exist as not relevant in all but a few instances.

  3. One of the greatest commonalities uniting a group of people is GREED. Never under-estimate how the love of money can corrupt and unite people with seemingly vastly disparate views. An old Chinese proverb says, "Every man has his price."

  4. If you are running as an independent because you feel lost & dismayed with the tainted, fractured Labour Party name, then just say this, but do not tell me you are running as an independent because of some virtuous, holier than now reason. I call your bluff, you look like your fellow colleges State and Federal wide, you are the very face of the Labour Party you denounce. We all know how strong you are within the local Labour Party propaganda machine distributing deceit on the CEP and your slandering of noted LNP councilors as your readers do. A title does not depict ones character.

  5. Anonymous, what I have said above in my post is exactly how I feel regarding this issue. I've never pretended otherwise, nor will I lie about why I am running as an Independent. I don't recall denigrating any of the LNP members of Council, if anything, I have remained largely unbiased to all members of Council, preferring to talk about the issues, rather than the people. I've also never been deceitful regarding the CEP, simply stating the facts as they appear on any of the documents pertaining to the subject. If you choose to believe that Council Officers and those employed to ensure this project is fully costed and transparent in design and implementation then I think that speaks more to your character than my own. I obviously won't have your vote in April. So be it. Should I win, I promise to represent you to the best of my ability regardless......because that's what an effective representative does.

  6. Anyone who shows such unyielding & adamant support for the Labor Party to then state they will not take party politics into the council is kidding themselves and their electorate. You are either a true independent or you should run under the name in which you believe. Let me rephrase that for you then: Your chosen title does not depict your true character and belief. Therefore you are misleading your electorate. Your are a member of the ALP, you either denounce that membership to run as an "independent" or you run as a member of the ALP. You can not have your cake and eat it too. Do you understand what I am saying?

  7. Oh I understand exactly what you are saying. In Cairns, there is no Labor Party in Council. Those who are members are not endorsed by the ALP as the party does not believe the forum is appropriate for party politics. Something I strongly agree with. Even if I wanted to, which I do not, I could not run as an ALP Candidate.

    Each person who is running for Council has an interest in politics. Some are members of the ALP, some are members of the LNP and others are Green. Only a few have no party affiliation. Every single one is running as an Independent. Apparently they, and their party, also believe as I do, that Council should represent the people in each Division, nothing more....and certainly nothing less.

  8. You still don't get it. We all know who the Labour Party are in Council and we all know who the Liberls / Nationals are. You can try and hide, cover up, spin this fact as much as you like but you will not win with me. You can call a donkey a horse, but it is still a "donkey". Let me give you a bit of education, there are 2 sides to a councilors role. 1. To take care of their division. 2. To vote and take part in decisions which effect the city as a whole. Fair enough when you look after your electorate it is pretty hard to instill your Labor views on fixing up footpaths (you might do an environmental study if the footpath passes by a swamp so you do not upset your holy important votes from the greens) but when it comes to larger decisions for the city where the council needs to vote, decision are made from the majority of votes and this is where you and your Labour mates bring party politics into the council (Just like the Libs / Nats do). And to say you don't, won't, don't believe in this is misleading your voters. Your core voters in your electorate are Labor voters, that is why you strongly support and align yourself with the Labor Party to get those votes to become a councilor. To say your independent is not true and misleading.