During past 40 years, I have been a member of 3 different political parties: Labor Party, The Greens and Fiona Patten’s Reason Party. My membership was less than a year in each party.
I joined the ALP after spending 12 years at Melbourne Girls Grammar. As the youngest child with four older brothers and a father who all voted Liberal, I wanted to explore my options. After attending three Northcote Labor branch meetings, I did not return or renew my membership.
Although I remained politically engaged, I did not join another party until 2016. I chose the Greens primarily because I was impressed with their candidate in my electorate, Alex Bhathal. The Greens also claimed to do politics differently. However, this was not my experience, as I explained in my opinion piece: Why I quit the Greens.
During the 2019 election campaign, I had a meeting with Fiona Patten to discuss aged care. The next day, Fiona phoned to ask if I would stand as the Reason Party’s candidate for Cooper. Fiona’s reason for nominating federal candidates was to expand the party’s brand recognition. I agreed on the condition I could write the party’s aged care policies.
I spent three enjoyable weeks on the campaign trail – engaging with the community and holding the Labor and Greens’ candidates to account at ‘Meet the candidate’ forums. Standing in for the Liberal candidate at each forum was an empty chair.
In early 2021, a motley group of people met on my deck to discussing forming a “Voices of” group. Around the same time, I joined with others on a campaign to ‘Vote Greg Hunt Out’.
After Voices of Mornington Peninsula was born, the group experienced several challenges. These challenges resulted in an unsuccessful candidate, Despi O’Connor, standing as an Independent, thereby splitting the vote. The community endorsed candidate, Claire Boardman, subsequently withdrew.
Despite some political shenanigans at a meeting in Dromana, Members of Voices of Mornington Peninsula voted to endorse a candidate for the 2022 federal election. I nominated because, in my view, it was the best way for the ‘Voices movement’ to grow on the Mornington Peninsula. Read my nomination speech here.
When a journalist at The Guardian interviewed me after I was endorsed as the Voices of Mornington Peninsula Independent candidate, I made an off-the-cuff remark that I would be the Jacqui Lambie of the left. This comment acknowledged that Jacqui and I share three important attributes.
- We are not tied to a political party.
- We listen to local concerns across the community
- We speak our minds without fear or favour.
Independents do not belong to a political party, so we can make up our own mind when voting on proposed legislation, taking into account the views of our communities. In contrast members of a political party usually vote as a bloc, even when they know it is not what their electorate wants.