Full houses at Independent candidate events in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour

An enthusiastic audience at Sawtell. Photo: Jay Black, And The Trees Photography.

MORE than 200 people attended events in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour last weekend to hear about the benefits community Independents can bring to regional electorates.

Phil Haines from Voices4Indi, and Caz Heise, former independent candidate for Cowper, addressed full houses at both events.

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They discussed how Independent federal representatives bring considered and civil discussion to Parliament, and greater accountability for legislation and policy.

“It’s important that rural and regional communities are represented by people who truly put people before party, and whose first priority is community,” said Mr Haines.

“Having more community Independents in Parliament from rural and regional communities will bring a greater
focus on our needs when shaping legislation.”

He gave the example of how Cathy McGowan invited the community to work on mapping black spots in mobile phone coverage, in preparation for submissions for funding new mobile phone towers.

Ms Heise spoke about the role played by community Independents in scrutinising legislation in Parliament and negotiating for improvements.

Both speakers noted that increasing the number of rural and regional electorates held by community Independents would ensure a stronger focus on issues faced by communities outside major cities.

Questions from the audience canvassed topics from ensuring independent MPs have sufficient resources, effective tactics for community engagement, the potential for a hung Parliament, and processes for selecting a community Independent.

Anita Tang from Voices4Cowper moderated the conversation at both events and said she was excited to see so many deeply engaged in rethinking the way politics works.

“We had a strong response to our call to action at both events, with people signing up for local community catch-up sessions and stepping forward to actively volunteer.”

Ms Heise said the turnouts at both events suggest that the “people of Cowper are looking for change”.

For more information, visit voices4cowper.org.

By Andrew VIVIAN

A packed house in Port Macquarie.

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