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Minor voices battle for votes


Peter Jean

The Australian Motorist Party candidates Chic Henry.

The Australian Motorist Party candidates Chic Henry. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Declaring gum trees a ''health hazard in urban areas'' and calling for a ''centenary tunnel'' under Northbourne Avenue was certain to help get publicity-savvy political candidate Chic Henry noticed in the lead up to tomorrow's election.

But the Summernats founder and Australian Motorist Party member and other minor party and independent candidates are struggling to get the support needed to be elected to the Legislative Assembly.

A Patterson poll conducted for The Canberra Times found between zero and 1 per cent support for independent candidates across the ACT's three multimember electorates.

Support for the Motorists was between one and 3 per cent, and none of the poll respondents indicated an intention to vote for the Ginninderra-based Marion Le Social Justice Party.

The new Assembly is likely only to include representatives of the Labor, Liberal and Greens parties.

But Mr Henry, who the Liberal Party hopes could help it win power, yesterday said he believed he had a chance of winning a seat in the northern electorate of Ginninderra.

He said the Assembly needed a ''fourth entity''.

''An independent thinker must get in there. It's more than just a balance of power - it's a balance of thinking, That's what I want to do,'' he said.

Mr Henry said rumours he wanted to cut down the bush capital eucalyptus trees were false.

''Nobody's talking about chopping down trees, as such,'' he said.

''What we're saying is if you're going to plant more trees, can you have a bit of a think about not planting any more gum trees, how about a different sort of tree? And if they're going to plant them, don't plant them near the gutters or the footpaths, because they wreck the joint.''

Refugee advocate Marion Le first ran for the Assembly as a candidate of the now-defunct Residents Rally in 1989.

She is now heading a ticket of candidates in Ginninderra.

Ms Le's priorities included helping the homeless and reforming care and protection services.

''I'd like to think I've got a chance of being elected,'' she said.

''A lot of people know me in this electorate.

''I taught here for over 20 years and I've been very active''.

John Warhurst, an Emeritus Professor of political science at the Australian National University, said minor parties and independents had struggled to have their voices heard during the election campaign.


  • The problem with many of the independants who i feel are doing the right thing by trying to offer the public a alternative to the hopeless 2 horse race we always have, is that they tend to run on a single issue platform. I would consider voting independant if I knew what the independants stood for on issues that I care about which are not nessicarily those which they are using as their platform. Where does the 'motorist party' stand on issues such as marriage equality, justice and sentancing, immigration and other significant social issues? Australians want a alternative party that has a clear stance on "ALL" the big issues that defines them as a real alternative to the same old stale flavours offered by Labor, Liberal and the Greens. Running on a motoring platform, or a social justice platform without clearly defining where you stand on other issues is a waste of time. I wont waste my vote on a party that hasn't clearly defined where they stand on the issues that are important to me.

    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 8:02AM
    • It is a Legislative Assembly Jaric. Their stance on marriage equality, immigration and other social issues are fairly irrelevant in relation to what their powers entail.
      I would actually prefer MLA candidates that recognised this and focused on issues that actually relate to its responsibilities. Like recognising that the ACTs ER wait times are now one of the worst in the country.

      If these single policy parties at least achieve the one policy that they promise (road development, light rail etc), I would be satisfied.
      It would be a nice change to the long list of overpromised but either underdelivered or incomplete projects from the last decade.

      Date and time
      October 19, 2012, 12:07PM
  • The trouble with many of these independents is that they aren't, they are closet Liberals, as with Chic Henry. I don't know that any of them will side with Labor. Burl Doble is a failed Liberal candidate. Go back to running wet T shirt contests Chic, the rednecks need you. It is a completely wasted vote, just like years ago with the no self government parties.

    Rev Kavanagh
    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 8:38AM
    • @Rev I doubt very much that Marion Le is a closet Liberal. I think she has made a mistake in only running candidates in Brindabella. I thought she might attract more votes in Molonglo.

      But you're right, some of the more... ah, earthy, independent candidates are very conservative though and would generally only attract the bogan vote.

      Date and time
      October 19, 2012, 10:28AM
  • And why not Mr Henry when you look through the personal agenda rabble offered by the BIG????? 3.

    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 8:47AM
    • Nice summary Jaric.

      Add to this lack of alternative is the practical impediment to removing sitting members under this quota voting scheme in place.

      If you want change in the Legislative Assembly do not vote for any sitting candidates in the first 5 - 7 (subject to electorate) preferences.

      Outraged of Palmerston
      Date and time
      October 19, 2012, 8:50AM
      • Jaric is correct in a lot of ways, many independents and micro-parties do have single, or a limited set, of issues. Others do have a broader platform, even if not the same detail as major parties. They also do not have the resources to advertise on the same scale, or to develop the same level of detail, nor access to be able to submit costings, etc.

        One of the biggest impediments outside the parties with sitting members is that most people still get their news from mass media, and none of the Canberra Times, WIN or the ABC (the only such outlets for ACT issues) spend much time away frm the main three. Even when a broader platform exists, people don't know about it. Even for those who do use internet sources its generally the sits of big media, over 90% last study I saw a result of, and most blog sites and the like are opinions on the mainstream media reported information.

        Date and time
        October 19, 2012, 10:33AM
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