Voices for Monash

A voices group has been organised in the electorate of Monash covering west and south Gippsland. It is currently operating a twitter page and has 100 followers. Following the success of Cathy McGowan and the Voices for Indi (V4I), voices groups have been ‘mushrooming’ around Australia, forming in every state except Tasmania, which of course, already has the strong independent Andrew Wilkie, MHR for Denison.

The history of the V4I and the election of Independent Cathy McGowan, and now Dr Helen Haines, is an intriguing political story. I asked good friend and regular Gippsland holidaymaker, Andrew Kimber of Wangaratta, who has been active in the V4I movement, especially in the early years, about this. Andy noted that “the situation in Indi in 2013 was quite unique and so our example doesn’t readily apply to other electorates where the standing member is popular/seen as doing a reasonable job” referring to the previous, unpopular sitting member.

Andrew emphasized the importance of strong local connections for any candidate, as well as possible connections with the conservative side of politics. This applied to Cathy McGowan but also to the only Independent to represent Gippsland East in state parliament, Craig Ingram. Then in “late 2012 a small group… got together at the Wang library to initiate things… – local leaders with excellent skills eg Cathy herself and people like friend Tony Lane – local health professional who works with all levels of government. They initially were planning to “just” talk to S[ophy]M[irabella] about their/our issues…” She gave them 10 minutes and the V4I was born. Current representative Helen Haines is particularly strong on the transition to renewable energy and, preferably, that it is locally owned and regionally located.

As anger rises about climate change denial, support for the fossil fuel industry, inactivity or opposition to sensible policies promoting renewable energy and electric vehicles, or the so-called ‘gas led recovery’, the hold on Federal government by the coalition is tenuous. When we add other issues to the long list of climate policy failures, including the treatment of women and the coronavirus vaccine stuff-ups, no coalition seat is safe. Thanks are due in part, to those V4I pioneers. Thanks also for the entry of Voices for Monash into the fray.

A best case for climate action and Australia is for more ‘Voices’ and independent candidates to get elected and that a sensible minority government, along the lines of Julia Gillard’s administration, and with a strong and enlarged crossbench, is installed in Canberra.