Why Cowper and not Lyne?
As the former member for Lyne for five years, I can also understand why some people may mistake my candidacy for the seats of Lyne or Cowper. Following the AEC redistribution, my home town of Port Macquarie has been moved into Cowper, and I felt it appropriate to stand in the seat I live in. I haven’t moved, my home hasn’t moved, the boundaries of electorates have.
Why didn't you help form an Abbott Government in 2010?
In the negotiations following the 2010 election, Tony Abbott was unwilling to put any offers on the table for Regional Australia. In the 2010 negotiation process, Tony Windsor and myself managed to secure funding for over 100 Regional Hospitals, we established equal pricing Australia-wide for access to the NBN and we worked toward equal access to Education for all Australians, no matter where they live or how much they earn. Unfortunately, Mr Abbott had no interest in these common sense reforms.
What would you do in a second 'hung' Parliament?
There was no manual when the extraordinary events of 2010 unfolded. I have learnt a lot from that period, and reflected deeply.
Every election is different, and the numbers and personalities always change. Lightening never strikes twice.
But to assure the electorate and the broader Australian community, I have never voted “no confidence” nor “blocked supply” in seventeen years in state and federal politics. It would be up to party leaders to reach out if they felt the need to formalise arrangements with a piece of paper to help form Government.
This is therefore a matter for Malcolm Turnbull. As Prime Minister, he would have ‘first go’ in this process of forming Government in the House of Representatives. I would not block his efforts to do so, and would accept his phone call if he wanted to formalise something in more detail.
I ask the community to remember that a Prime Minister is not only in office prior to an election, but also during and after. They therefore have the responsibility to lead on any process of negotiation, in the unlikely event that it may occur.
How do you make your decisions as an Independent?
In any Parliamentary term of 3 years, over 500 decisions on individual pieces of legislation need to be made. I do not make decisions on party lines, and I do not make decisions based on the size of the donation received from a special interest group, nor any one rich individual.
Decisions will continue to be made without fear or favour, and with the “public interest” in mind. What is best for the electorate of Cowper, and what is best for our children and grandchildren will be the two priority drivers of decision-making on all legislation.
Why the late campaign entry?
Elections campaigns cost money, and the longer the campaign, the more opportunities the big political parties, with their deep pockets, have to outspend Independents and grassroots campaigns. By announcing 5 weeks into an 8 week campaign, we've seen the Nationals make no promises to the electorate of Cowper. We'll see how quickly that changes now.
I have nominated as per the normal rules of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). In an unusually long ten week campaign, it is understandable why some people may think this is a ‘last-minute’ decision. It is not. Having been through six elections, announcements are normally made in line with the AEC rules.
Why are you making a comeback?
After the 43rd Parliament, I was exhausted. Getting a Senate and a House of Representatives to work together for a full term was hard work. Avoiding the chaos of a Double Dissolution was difficult, but we achieved it. With others, I risked my health and reputation in making this happen.
In 2013, I didn’t think I would ever want to see politics again. I was hoping the local MP’s for the area would continue building on the community work around Education and Health, and that they would continue to focus on the many disadvantaged communities of our region.
I was hopeful the Parliament would progress on areas of pre-election promised reform, such as comprehensive tax reform, and constitutional recognition of first Australians. Sadly, both promises have failed or ‘flat-lined’ over the past three years.
And I haven’t heard a peep out of the local MP’s about this failure to reform, which is all the more disappointing.
Over time, I realised I had more to give, and that politics was still in my blood. I believe the representation of the Mid-North Coast is currently poor, and I strongly believe I can do better for all of us. Because of this, I feel an obligation to stand, and to allow voters the choice to either agree or disagree. Ultimately, I am hoping this decision creates a referendum on representation in Cowper, and whether the community deserves better. I think we do.