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When voters elect an independent ...

By Richard Stanton - posted Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Government is likely to be formed by the Labor Party with the support of two independents but this does not mean the independents necessarily lose their independence.

Tony Windsor (Ind, New England) and Rob Oakeshott (Ind, Lyne) have declared publicly their support for the ALP education policy with specific reference to trade training centres and computers in schools.

Mr Oakeshott, in July, stood in the House to speak on the issue. He was praised by Mr Windsor who had himself spoken earlier, in June, on the same issue.


It is not difficult to work out where the independents will go.

But if we pay attention to what the mainstream media suggest, then the independents are at once a bunch of sell-outs and unstable cowboys set on destroying democracy. National and metropolitan media would have us believe that the independents will form government with one side, then switch allegiances during the parliament.

They may well do, but that’s not unusual - many members of governments and oppositions cross the floor to vote on issues involving “conscience”.

The mainstream media would do well to take a few moments to research the websites and recent speeches of Messrs Windsor, Oakeshott and Katter so they can provide rational assessments.

Rather than make assumptions and opaque interpretations about the impending election result - for example, that the closeness of the contest is the electorate pleading for reform of the system - they may be better positioned to provide clear analysis.

Additionally, investigation of the independents’ websites would dispel the myths put by many in the mainstream media including the ABC’s Fran Kelly that by forming government they will alienate the constituency; and The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen that a hung parliament is inherently unstable.


Kelly implies that the independents focus closely on local issues without paying attention to the bigger picture. As their websites demonstrate, this is not the case.

While Mr Katter’s may not be the most erudite site in the world, and a little out of date, his sentiments regarding globalisation are clear.

Mr Oakeshott provides information about his relationship with Greens and Labor MPs and his work on foreign affairs, defence and trade committees.

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About the Author

Richard Stanton is a political communication writer and media critic. His most recent book is Do What They Like: The Media In The Australian Election Campaign 2010.

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