Liberal councillor dumped from party ticket - Zamprogno to stand as independent
Well-known Liberal Councillor Nathan Zamprogno is no longer a Liberal candidate for Hawkesbury council elections in September after being dumped by his party this last week in a process one Liberal pre-selector called “callous, bullying, and very cruel”.
Oakville resident Cllr Zamprogno has been on the council since the 2016 election and is widely seen as a hard-working councillor who tends to stick to his principles, often voting on merit, which has seen him on at least one notable occasion this last year decide to vote against his Liberal Party colleagues to save Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee.
He sits as the Chairman of the Hawkesbury River County Council, and is also the only councillor to have his own website, councillorzamprogno.info where he regularly posts informative videos and articles explaining often complex council, federal and local interest stories in a compelling way.
Last week local Liberal Party pre-selectors voted online – the first time ever and a response to the COVID lockdown - to choose the candidates who will represent the Party in the upcoming elections on September 4.
That pre-selection process has been roundly criticised by Liberal pre-selector David Bowles of Richmond who says factions are behind Cllr Zamprogno’s ousting. Mr Bowles is so incensed he has resigned from the Liberal Party, a membership he has held for 15 years.
In happier times...Cllr Zamprogno with one of his heroes, Gardening Australia's Costa at Australiana Pioneer Village
“My view of Nathan is he has been a diligent and long-standing supporter of the Liberal Party. He has served in many capacities, always been faithful to the organisation and has probably tolerated a lot more than I have been prepared to do,” Mr Bowles said.
“So I’ve observed the process with that very much in mind, and the election results – because he stood for each position available to him - and when I watched him being voted out one by one, and to my mind that was strategic, it was callous and it showed no interest in Nathan and I thought was very bullying and very cruel.”
Mr Bowles believes the actions of some in the local party amounted to “a targeted exercise, they definitely didn’t want him and they made sure he couldn’t come in”.
“Looking back on conversations people had with me, from within the party who were candidates, it was definitely a targeted exercise, they definitely didn’t want him and they made sure he couldn’t come in.
“And that brings factional interests back into play and I don’t like that.
“The Liberal Party that I would support is one that votes on principle and on the best interests of the community, that means that you can’t always vote on strict party lines and should look at each issue in place, but what I’m seeing here is factional interests and party politics over the interests of the general community.”
Mr Bowles says there are a number of people in one of the local Liberal branches who have what he calls “the loud voice, and they are taking away the rights of the rest of the membership who would by and large represent the common good of the community”.
Already on the campaign trail...Cllr Zamprogno's latest video
“What I’m seeing is there are certain people who tend to be taking advantage of the fact that people tend to be rather benign about their politics and so it’s the squeaky minority, the loud minority that are having the greatest say.
“They get themselves into key positions and then they drive the agenda.”
Mr Bowles also questioned the integrity of the voting process.
Of the 70 pre-selectors, some 17 did not vote, with one theory being the on-line process was too technical for older and less tech-savvy members of the Party to navigate.
When asked for comment on this story, Cllr Zamprogno pointed out he was unable to make comment on party matters, including pre-selections.
He confirmed to the Post that he will be standing as an independent at the coming election, though he has not resigned his Liberal Party membership.
“I bear no ill-will,” he said. “I’m relentlessly positive about things. I’ve always spoken my mind on issues and I am comfortable with every position I’ve taken. I’ve always sought to explain things to the community, which is more than some have done.”
Cllr Zamprogno believes this election will be very difficult for candidates because of COVID restrictions, plus the added hurdle of an increased move to pre-poll postal and electronic voting.
“This will be a very different and dislocated campaign,” he says.
“Independents and aspirants would normally be out and about in the community, attending meetings of service clubs, progress associations, candidate information nights, handing out material at shops and railway stations, and door-knocking. None of this is happening under COVID, and that’s bad. People should engage with ideas and candidates. Find out who has actually worked hard in this term, and who best represents their values.”
For his part, Cllr Zamprogno promises his brand of politics is “not all about selfies and photo-ops.
“It’s about earning the respect of the community, turning up, and being diligent.
“I’ve served on many committees. I have among the best attendance record of any Hawkesbury councillor, measured across Council meetings, briefings and committees. I’ve won the support of many organisations and individuals in the Hawkesbury.”
He added, “Frankly, I’m sick of council staff holding briefings and workshops, only to find less than half the councillors turn up. You’ve got to do the work.”
He will be hoping that story, coupled with his infectious enthusiasm and natural ability to engage with people, will get him over the line against the might of the big parties, including the one which for 30 years he has called his own.
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