Voices4Cowper promote impact of Independents in Federal politics

2022 Federal Election candidate Caz Heise will be a facilitator at the events. Photo: Voices4Cowper.

THE impact of community independents in Federal Parliament and the close results in Cowper last Federal election have inspired the Voices4Cowper group to hold two ‘Town Hall’ style events on Sunday 5 May, one in Port Macquarie and another in Coffs Harbour.

“For too long, major political parties have taken seats like ours for granted,” said Bec Davis, Co-Chair of Voices4Cowper.

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“Our Kitchen Table Conversations survey responses clearly show that people are tired of being represented by politicians who simply follow party lines.

“There is excitement at the possibility of being represented by someone who listens to the community and acts in a way that is aligned with our priorities.

“Our electorate is diverse and spread out, but we know that whether you live in Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca, the Macleay Valley, or Port Macquarie, we will all be better off if our voice in Canberra focuses on our community first when making decisions.”

Each event will feature a conversation between Phil Haines, co-founder of Voice for Indi, and Caz Heise, the 2022 independent candidate for Cowper.

They will share reflections from their campaigning experience, insights into the impact of the independents in Canberra and implications for the electorate of Cowper.

The Victorian rural seat of Indi made history when the community developed a model for doing politics differently, leading to a win by an independent for four elections in a row, in a seat that the Coalition had previously held for generations.

“The story of Voices for Indi is one of everyday people coming together to listen, then working to improve democratic representation in their electorate,” Mr Haines said.

“We built a movement to do politics differently, and I’m excited to share our experience with the community in Cowper.”

Despite narrowly losing to Nationals candidate Pat Conaghan in the 2022 Federal Election, Ms Heise said she remains “passionate about doing democracy differently”.

“This event offers a chance for us to explore how we move forward together to shape Cowper to meet our needs.

“Independents have brought integrity back to parliament and actually represent their communities rather than the lobby groups that influence the major parties.”

Ms Heise said independents have proven themselves already by introducing bills and amending others.

For example Helen Haines introduced the Integrity in Parliament Bill and Zali Steggall has advocated for a code of conduct for members of parliament.

Haise said they have pushed for transparency in parliament through initiatives such as a lobbyist register and the publication of ministerial diaries, which have been resisted by the major parties.

She stressed that independents are thinking about the future, with the big issues such as climate change, social justice and housing, while working with communities to develop local economies and jobs to ensure they continue to thrive.

Tickets to the events are free but registration is essential.

The Port Macquarie event will be held at MakerSpace (The Shed) from 10am until11:30am and the Coffs Harbour event will be held from 4:30pm until 6pm at the Cavanbah Hall.

Registration can be found at humantix.com.

Cowper residents can also share their views at https://www.voices4cowper.org/survey.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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