Excerpted from Brenton Caffin:
“A glimpse of an alternative approach may have arrived courtesy of the 2013 Australian Federal Election.
Tired of being taken for granted by the local MP, locals in the traditionally safe conservative seat of Indi embarked on a structured process of community ‘kitchen table’ conversations to articulate an independent account of the region’s needs. The community group, Voice for Indi, later nominated its chair, Cath McGowan, as an independent candidate. It crowdfunded their campaign finances and built a formidable army of volunteers through a sophisticated social media operation.
As Campbell Klose and Nick Haines write here: “Indi has never seen anything like this before. For the first time in living memory thousands of people from all walks of life were engaging in politics and having a say in how they would like to see their electorate represented. For too long they had been taken for granted. Labor knew it couldn’t win it, so it hadn’t ever bothered trying; the Liberals knew they were going to win, so they didn’t bother either.”
Cath McGowan won the seat by 400 votes.
While this is admittedly an isolated example, the implications of their success are potentially profound. Communities need not settle for the limited range of platforms on offer by major political parties, but can create their own and then find the best candidate to prosecute their case.”