I am writing on this topic as there have been unhelpful and inaccurate rumours in other parts of social media, comments which I am concerned may have the effect of misinforming residents.
In this election there are several candidates who are members of the Liberal Party who are running as Independents. What does this mean? Can you possibly be Independent and a member of the Liberal Party at the same time?
Well yes, you can. The NSW Electoral Commission’s own handbook for candidates defines Independents as “𝘈 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺.”
In Ku-ring-gai, Willoughby, and many other LGA’s across NSW the Liberal Party chooses not to endorse (i.e. get behind or support) candidates and these party members are left on their own to run on their own platform, own convictions, own beliefs and policies, and with their own money.
In my particular case I fund my own campaign, we come up with our own policies and values, and we recruit our own volunteers. The election campaign is about our team and our policies, not about some political party that doesn’t endorse or provide support. Nobody tells us how to vote.
Political party membership is available for all to see on the Electoral Commission website. No candidates are ‘hiding’ it, and personally I am just waiting til next week to show the link to the Electoral Commission website because there’s an upgrade on the 22nd that will make it much more informative for users, and I like to do things once really well, not twice ineffectively.
But ultimately when it comes to policy alignment, values, etc. we all make our own decisions and have complete freedom to act how we want.
Therefore I believe the term Independent is entirely appropriate.
And I have certainly enjoyed the Independence in the last four years. Just to give some examples.
1) Though the current council has six out of ten councillors as Liberal Party members, they are often in disagreement. 3 vs 3. 4 vs 2. 5 vs. 1. When it’s 5 vs. 1 I’m often the independent lone wolf.
2) In July 2019 Council Staff proposed that the Lindfield Village Hub should be 14 storeys tall, to which I disagreed because I believed that it would set a dangerous precedent in Lindfield. I received pressure from other councillors including the former mayor to support 14 storeys, and if I had caved into her pressure we would be seeing 14 storeys in Lindfield right now. But I was happy to go against the Liberal then-mayor as I am an Independent and can vote however I want.
3) In May 2021 I proposed that council investigate the heritage value of the Roseville Chase and Gordon Bowling Green sites (and it was defeated). This didn’t have the support of other Liberal Party councillors but I wasn’t bothered as I am an Independent and so are they.
4) In the upcoming Roseville Ward elections, three of the four groups have Liberal Party members as lead candidates, but in our group’s view (and therefore in our preferencing), the most appropriate second group is non-party aligned. We do our preferences based on our own values, alignment and competency, not based on party membership. We are independents.
5) To me, party membership is actually quite meaningless because there is such a diverse range of people within the party. I know Liberal Party members who are full-on Trump. I also know Liberal Party members who effectively behave like they are in the Greens. I’m personally a bit of a strange mix of everything, I believe that the Government should take more proactive action to decelerate the effects of climate change and that we need to show more compassion to those in need (especially refugees), but I also have particular convictions based on my religious beliefs.
At every election, there will be those who go around saying this person and that person isn’t an ‘Independent’ because of party membership. But I strongly disagree with them because of all the reasons above (including the Electoral Commission’s definition). Furthermore it is genuinely frustrating that they apply this criticism to a select few candidates rather than all candidates with party membership. The constant cherry-picking of information, and deliberate and selective framing of information to cast candidates in poor light, unfortunately has had the effect of misinforming some residents, and I have had to correct misunderstandings on several occasions. But for every one person who is misinformed and who raises their concerns with me, I’m sure there are several who are misinformed and remain that way. This behaviour does not align with my values and I cannot endorse it.
In other news, Ku-ring-gai Living recently reached out to ALL candidates and asked them to fill a survey, including disclosure of party membership. Some candidates chose to respond, and their answers are found in the link below.