26 May 2024

Campaign seeks independent member to fight for Farrer at the next federal election

| Vanessa Hayden
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Voices of Farrer vice-president Beth Sainty-Gale and president Cate Melville have travelled the Farrer electorate extensively in the past 12 months seeking interest from community members keen to explore the role as an independent candidate. Photos: Supplied.

The federal electorate of Farrer in southern New South Wales may soon have a fresh face vying for your vote after a local group launched a campaign to find an independent candidate to stand at the next election.

Voices of Farrer is on the hunt for the right person to take on the Liberal Party incumbent, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley, who cruised to victory with more than 52 per cent of the vote in 2022.

The electorate covers an area twice the size of Tasmania, stretching from the Murray River in NSW to the South Australian border and taking in towns such as Hay, Griffith, Leeton, Narrandera, Deniliquin, Corowa and Albury.

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Voices of Farrer president Cate Melville said the group began because “people are grumpy”.

“They are disillusioned with party politics, they see what’s going on with the independents that we are surrounded by, as in Helen Haines, Helen Dalton and Dr Joe McGirr, and see what they are doing and how they are representing their people and they like that they are not tied into voting with their party,” she explained.

“The people of Farrer want that too. We wouldn’t have come together and emerged if people didn’t feel that way.

“If people were happy with the representation they had, the ‘Voices’ groups wouldn’t exist.”

The ”Voices” movement is a loosely connected network of independent community engagement groups that seek to challenge the major parties.

Some independent candidates, and so-called ”Teals”, have been backed by the Climate 200 movement and investor Simon Holmes a Court; however, Ms Melville said Voices of Farrer was not associated with Climate 200.

“My phone has been constantly pinging since we announced the campaign and we have been very happy with the amount of media attention we are getting,” Ms Melville said.

“We do have interested people and they want better.”

man and woman sit on bench in park talking

Dr Helen Haines MP, the Independent Member for Indi, knows the type of commitment and dedication that will be required by the successful candidate chosen by grassroots community movement Voices of Farrer.

The grassroots community group was formed in 2022 and is seeking to emulate the success of Cathy McGowan and Dr Haines over the Murray River in the Indi electorate.

Dr Haines was elected in 2019 and knows only too well the challenges of life as an independent.

“Being elected as the Member for Indi is a great privilege and I never take that for granted,” she said.

“As an Independent Member of Parliament, the commitment is much more than a full-time job. I spend much time reading legislation, undertaking research, preparing for meetings and travelling across what is a very large electorate to visit with communities.

“The role requires a significant commitment to being available to meet with people and attend community events during work hours, after hours, on weekends, and that’s in addition to the 20 weeks of the year spent in Canberra for Parliament.”

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Ms Melville acknowledges that the role in Farrer will be huge, but after a busy year of community consultation, she said the message was clear.

“Farrer wants a values-driven, community-selected independent candidate at the next federal election – that’s why we launched our expression-of-interest campaign,” she said.

Expressions of interest closed on 19 May, with Voices of Farrer expecting to make a decision by the end of June and an announcement around September.

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Good luck, the Liberals and Nationals have taken Wagga and the Riverina for granted for far too long.
Ley is an embarrassment to the region.

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