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Don't let federal independent blowback kill-off NSW election

By Richard Stanton - posted Friday, 4 March 2011

The blowback from the "WinShott" debacle over climate change and a carbon tax has the potential to kill off any real change in leadership and balanced management in NSW.

As the state prepares to go to the polls to elect either a Liberal National coalition or a Greens Labor coalition, federal independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott are making it almost impossible for independents in NSW to get elected.

The blowback from the WinShott decision to support the Labor government's carbon tax will be that voters no longer have confidence in independent candidates being, well, independent.


And if they have no confidence in the claims of independence made by independents, they will vote for minor parties because they also hate the big parties in NSW.

The real issue though is that Windsor and Oakeshott were never really independents.

They were both disenfranchised party members with natural leanings to the left.

Not all independents are closet lefties, or for that matter drum-beating conservatives.

The late Peter Andren, independent member for Calare in the NSW central west, was a true independent with no party affiliation.

Andren's voting record demonstrated a strong balance between left and right on any number of issues and he was always concerned that he be seen to be acting so that he could not be framed as a party stooge.


This position made life hard for him, to the point where he once remarked to me while on the campaign trail for an independent local government candidate, that if the parties really wanted to, they could have 'knocked me over with a feather'.

Andren, unlike Windsor and Oakeshott, was in the Ted Mack mould - he was interested first and foremost in the citizens who had elected him and the issues that concerned them.

Sadly Peter Andren is no longer around to defend the reputation of the independent.

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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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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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