• Tony Bosworth

Zamprogno launches campaign with 5 candidates and vows independent centre-right decision-making

Ex-Liberal councillor Nathan Zamprogno – he was dumped from the Liberal Party ticket earlier this year in a bruising pre-selection – is back as an independent, leading a team of candidates into the election under the tagline Independent Voices, Good Government.

But he may have something of a struggle convincing voters his is a truly independent team, as he and one other team candidate – Zed Sparks - are both members of the Liberal Party, with Cllr Zamprogno managing to hold onto his membership despite the very public brush off from the party ticket.

And another candidate on the Zamprogno ticket, James Jackson, is a member of the Liberal Democrats.

Given that the councillor says in a video unveiled for the launch of his campaign today, “…I’m proudly standing as an independent with my team of independents”, we thought it important to ask him if it was going to be difficult to convince voters they were in fact truly independent.

“I’m an honest voice and not a kept man.”

“I’m sick and tired of the rank laziness of the main political parties,” he told the Post, adding that his new group was, “as completely independent as we can be”.

Cllr Zamprogno has sometimes voted on principle rather than along purely Liberal party lines and it’s clear if you’ve watched him at Council meetings this last year that he has also been very uncomfortable voting that party line on occasion. Clearly those incidents – some might see them as disloyal to the party - are among the factors in his scrubbing from the Liberal ticket, though he describes it as walking away, “voting with my feet”.

As he points out in his very professional election video, he stood his ground – at least initially - when Labor and Liberal councillors teamed up to bring in a new committee structure which, among others, would have seen the end of the Heritage Advisory Committee in its current form. That was – as the councillor said at the time – a red line he would not cross. So, he voted against the new committee structure and that new structure only passed when brought back to Council with that Heritage committee still intact. Let’s be honest, Labor and Liberal needed his vote to push through the over-arching new committee structure, and ultimately they got it.

Back in January, Cllr Zamprogno lambasted independent and Greens councillors for not putting their hands up to stand on the new committees, saying some had “no stomach to do heavy lifting”. That was despite one Liberal councillor – Tiffany Tree – not putting her hand up for one single committee seat – but then that’s another story.

More recently, Cllr Zamprogno did also vote against his former Liberal colleagues on a motion to opt in to the controversial Rural Boundary Clearing Code and chastised them for what he called their naiveté, though in fairness he was an independent by then.

He also says he has voted against every Council rate rise.

And he says, “If you think we need to keep an eye on the effect of property speculation, land banking, and foreign ownership in our area, don’t go looking for sympathy from the major parties, because you won’t get it.”

So what is his approach to voters and how will he get them to vote for him and his group?

“Our fear is that you’re just going to walk into a polling booth and vote for one of the big brands,” says the councillor in his video, referring to the fact the Electoral Commissioner has ruled no-one is allowed to hand out election material outside polling booths, as would normally happen, because of COVID.

What exactly does former Liberal now independent, but still Liberal Party member, Nathan Zamprogno and his team stand for?

He does want Warragamba Dam wall raised, but as part of an overall solution for flood mitigation. He’s been forthright on that for a long time, but he and his team also takes a firm stand on development, saying, “we will take a strong stance to ensure the preservation of our rural lifestyle, while encouraging best practice in urban design excellence and renewal. We support our businesses, building infrastructure and providing housing choice. But we should determine what our future looks like, not developers.”

He also takes a shot at Hawkesbury Council – remember though he’s been a councillor there for 5 years – saying, “we believe Council has a poor reputation for customer service, especially compared to neighbouring councils.

“We stand for reform to Council’s culture, and modernising a focus on the basics of roads, parks, and basic infrastructure.”

He says he and the group believes “it is possible to be both a good conservative, and a good conservationist”.

“Balancing prosperity with what makes the Hawkesbury such a special place to live does not mean standing still, but it does mean ensuring Council takes its role to steward our environment and heritage seriously.”

He also believes being on Council should be about serving our community, and what he says about that is pointed.

“Council shouldn’t be merely a stepping stone to higher political ambition, be coloured with developer entanglements, or be a cushy gig where you can cynically get away with doing no work. Sadly, we’ve seen too much of that in this term. You deserve better. It’s about serving our community.”

There’s no doubt Cllr Zamprogno is a committed hard worker when it comes to council and resident issues. He also understands how to engage with residents, not least through his social media presence – until this election he was the only councillor with his own website – and he’s produced copious high quality video explainers about often potentially boring subjects which he routinely gives life to.

It might seem a small point – though not for our hard of hearing residents – that he’s made sure his election video has subtitles - good work there.

The big question for voters is – and it has to be asked – if you vote him and some or all of his colleagues in, are you actually going to get Liberals under another name? Are they going to end up simply voting with the Liberals? Because if that’s the case, why not just vote Liberal in the first place?

The way Cllr Zamprogno puts it is this – if you are disillusioned with the Liberals on Council yet you still want a candidate and a group which is right-of-centre, yet with a free spirit, look no further, you have an alternative.

“We are an independent and intelligent force,” he says, “I’m not going to suddenly turn around and say I’m not right of centre and not conservative, but I do want to signal to voters that I am better than the Liberal choice.”

Now, let’s meet the other candidates in Cllr Zamprogno’s group:

Ben Newton

The Grose Vale high school Art teacher says his family has a long history in the Hawkesbury, with grandparents who lived in Kurrajong and parents who married at Kurrajong Anglican Church.

He’s married and the couple have two children.

“Growing up here I’ve noticed a change in Hawkesbury Council,” he says.

“It has not been for the better. It never used to be about party politics – it used to be about the people, and strong community groups, and about understanding what makes the Hawkesbury such a special place.

“The Hawkesbury desperately needs independent voices that can improve our area without destroying what makes it great,” he says.

“I believe we can do better in local government- it’s time for a change.”

Bindi Corpe

She was born in Windsor and spent her younger years in Bilpin and Mountain Lagoon.

“My family has deep roots within the community, being among the first to settle in Bilpin,” she says.

“As someone living in an area where there are roads named after their family, I feel a great responsibility to protect and preserve these regions for future generations.”

Ms Corpe’s background is in Education and Social Services and she has have worked throughout Asia and Europe.

“I am passionate about sustainable development and embracing human diversity. I believe in the necessity of overcoming the divides caused by party politics in order to achieve meaningful policy which will help to improve infrastructure and services while maintaining the integrity of the natural environment.”

Donna Pellew

Mrs Pellew has lived and worked in the Hawkesbury most of her life and runs two local businesses, Unique Floral and Events – a business she started from scratch - and she recently bought the Richmond Kurrajong Florist in the main street of Richmond.

The family – husband Glen and four daughters - have lived in Wilberforce for over 21 years, and Donna has also lived in Windsor – her family moved there when she was just 5 – and they have also lived in Freemans Reach and McGrath’s Hill.

“I believe state and federal political agendas do not belong in local councils,” she says.

“The Hawkesbury is such a special place to live and work, and my experience in business convinces me that Council needs to understand that local businesses are the spine of our community.”

James Jackson

He lives in Tennyson and describes himself as “a reformed bank executive”.

“The preservation of the Hawkesbury’s unique, natural and historic character is my focus for Council,” says Mr Jackson.

“I’ve gained extensive business experience in Australia and overseas and believe there is great untapped potential in the Hawkesbury – both its local businesses and tourist draw cards.

“I believe Hawkesbury constituents deserve a Council that delivers world-class service and infrastructure on budget and with no rate surprises! I also believe that the Hawkesbury is the best place in the world to raise a family.

“I’m passionate about family, tradition, our history, life-long learning, and our wondrous landscapes.”

Mr Jackson says he is a strong supporter of causes including Dad’s In Distress, an initiative of Parents Beyond Breakup

Zed Sparks

The youngest of the group, student Zed grew up in Bowen Mountain and now lives in Kurrajong Heights.

“I have appreciated all that the Hawkesbury has offered me, and so I am passionate about ensuring that this city keeps offering opportunities to young people now and far into the future, for jobs, for education, and as a place to raise a family,” he says.

He is studying at Macquarie University and says having worked in and commuted to the city, he understands “the importance of keeping the Hawkesbury’s unique balance of peaceful quiet, and convenient linkages to the rest of Sydney”.

“I’m passionate about youth activism,” he says.

“I am currently the Vice President of the Australian Liberal Student’s Federation, and was previously President of the Macquarie University Liberal Club.”

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