• Tony Bosworth

Should you vote for a party or an independent? We ask two Hawkesbury councillors for their thoughts

Over this last year, Council has often been split right down the middle, with Labor siding the last three years with the Liberals on several occasions – notably in the fight to get a new committee structure through - while the Greens and independents generally have voted together.

Now, we all want our Council to work for us - not least because as ratepayers we pay for their services – but also because we want solutions that work for all of us.

The big question for many voters is, do I stick with a major party – typically Labor or Liberals – or do I vote for an independent?

And there’s another tricky question too – if I vote for an independent, are they truly independent or are they really just going to vote with their party mates?

We asked two seasoned councillors for their thoughts – Labor’s Barry Calvert, and independent People Not Parties lead candidate, and current Deputy Mayor, Mary Lyons-Buckett.

Barry Calvert – Labor group leader

“I have been a councillor for 22 years and during that time I have worked with councillors of all political persuasion.

“The important thing that I look for is whether the other councillors have a willingness to be inclusive and work with all the other councillors or whether they wish to exclude other councillors and work only with their own group.

“So I see the political preference of the councillors as a non-issue.

“The people of Hawkesbury elect 12 councillors and they expect them to all work together for the betterment of the area and the community. Councillors who campaign by saying that certain groups should be excluded are obviously trying to

play politics and do not have the greater interest of the community in mind.

“At the moment we have five independent councillors and these five consistently vote as a bloc in council. They are not behaving like independents but rather as a de-facto political party."

“As candidates we need to be spending our campaign time speaking to locals about roads, homelessness, climate change, zero net emissions and other such important issues.”

Mary Lyons-Buckett – People Not Parties independent group leader

“True Independent representation on Council means individuals who operate completely free of any external influences or directions, while bringing forward the voices from across our community.

“Party dominance in our Council limits the broadest possible scope of representation through diverse perspectives, and can give rise to divisiveness and disharmony.

“An independent is only answerable to the community, not a party machine."

“Independents who work within the community have connections and understanding on the ground level, and can work alongside the community to develop solutions around specific issues, rather than be drawn into the policies or issues of the other levels of Government.

“They can view each individual decision or proposal free from any requirement to follow any party policies, which enables the merits or viability of each proposal to be considered unhindered by other factors.”

“Some people say independents vote as one, but anyone looking at our voting registers would see that is not the case."

“As well, many Council decisions are unanimous (or 11-1), and personally I have supported and worked with all Councillors – if a motion or an idea is good for the community then I support it.

“The notion of block voting is something the political parties have introduced as part of their determination to operate akin to a Parliament rather than observing the objectives of Council being a composition of 12 individuals”.

In an upcoming article on how your vote really counts - we will also look at how you go about voting effectively for individual candidates or for a single group or party.

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