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Monday, September 25, 2006

The Independent Party

Bob Katter's announcement of plans to establish a formal connection between Independent Federal MPs to offer an alternative to the Nationals perhaps did not come as such as a surprise, in some ways. The idea of the rural independent has become somewhat of a brand, based on the idea that the Nationals no longer truly represent country values and rural constituents need someone to `fight for the little guy'. The only barrier is access to the pool of money afforded to major parties. Thus, the idea of a formal link, for the purpose not only of policymaking but fundraising, becomes a fairly logical one. There have been inklings of a similar deal in NSW, where independents as diverse as Dawn Fardell and Clover Moore met in rural NSW earlier this year, in a show of unit that may have prompted the government's subsequent attempt to woo them into the party.

The idea is not without risk, of course. The whole point of an independence is, er, independence. The outbursts which saw Peter Breen leave the ALP after his very brief membership demonstrates exactly why he's an independent. Once you're in any sort of alliance, your words reflect not only on yourself, but all members. However, the area in which Katter's proposed group has especially interesting potential is in contesting a Senate ticket. Given the frustration over the current Liberal-controlled Senate, the idea of an allegiance of independent minded MPs may well prove very attractive.

This isn't to say that there will be potential in the Lower House as well. The member for Calare, Peter Andren, has not yet said whether he will contest Calare or move to the nearby Macquarie, in which most of his electorate now lies, thanks to the redistribution. Should he successfully depose sitting member Kerry Bartlett, and perhaps another Independent also win Calare, an entire corridor through rural NSW may well be claimed. That's hardly something that will warm the cockles of the hearts of the Nationals ...

6 Comments:

At 11:27 am, Blogger Oz said...

It may help speed up the demise of the Nationals and cause problems for the Nationals Senate campaign in QLD but that's mainly where I see it.
In the long run, the trend will be against the Nationals and a new rural party as their share of the population continues to shrink. Furthermore people who move to regional areas from the cities will not vote for the Nats or this new party.
Hopefully though it'll do enough damage to the Coalition if it does get up for upcoming Federal Election.

 
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