Tuggeranong independent announces candidacy for ACT election

Tuggeranong independent announces candidacy for ACT election

The boundary changes might have made it still more difficult for independents and minor parties to get elected in Canberra, but that hasn't deterred Tuggeranong newcomer Joel McKay.

Mr McKay, 29, has announced his candidacy as an independent, standing on a platform of getting more attention for Tuggeranong. He has lived in the valley since age 13 and now with wife photographer Trudie Hargrave, and children aged four and two.

Independent candidate for Tuggeranong Joel McKay at home with his family, Trudie Hargrave, Logan, 4, and Shara, 2.

Independent candidate for Tuggeranong Joel McKay at home with his family, Trudie Hargrave, Logan, 4, and Shara, 2. Credit:Rohan Thomson

"I can no longer stand idly by while my local area is neglected," he said. "Tuggeranong needs someone who will stand up and fight, to ensure the necessary infrastructure and resources are brought to our region."

Mr McKay is one of three independents to so far announce plans to stand – the others are Andrew Dewson, 30, also a Commonwealth public servant, standing in Gungahlin; and Marcus Fillinger, a wildlife campaigner with a focus on the government's handling of the kangaroo cull.


Labor and the Greens chose their candidates last year; the Liberals will vote in their preselection at the end of April.

Mr McKay is a public servant in the federal finance department and lives in Tuggeranong's south, so is well versed in the area's transport headaches.

He drives to work after dropping his children at childcare, and wants to see the Ashley Drive duplication finished, and Isabella and Tharwa drives also duplicated.

He said buses were inadequate, with an express bus before 8am, but after that a "blue rapid" bus that could take an hour or even 90 minutes to reach the city by the time it ran from the Lanyon Valley through a multitude of suburbs before even reaching the Tuggeranong town centre.

He opposes light rail, believing most voters in the valley would never live to see a tramline to Tuggeranong, and supports a dedicated bus lane on Northbourne Avenue instead, which he said could be converted to light rail when the population justified it.

Mr McKay described himself as economically conservative and socially progressive, usually a Labor supporter but "pushed the other way" by the "white elephant" tram project.

To get elected, each candidate needs 16.7 per cent of the vote, an almost prohibitively difficult target for minor parties and independents. But Mr McKay said he had "a definite chance just because of the way residents are feeling with the major parties at the moment".

He compared Tuggeranong's neglect to Belconnen, where residents had Calvary Hospital and the University of Canberra, and a new public hospital now being built.

Tuggeranong had never had sufficient infrastructure and recent commitments were not enough, he said, pointing to an ongoing but never fully realised promise to clean up the lake and a "tokenistic" decision to base some Canberra Institute of Technology courses in the Tuggeranong centre.

The area needed a much more substantial post-high-school option, such as a trade or culinary school, he said.

He also supported the development of Tuggeranong housing west of the Murrumbidgee River, but said it must be done carefully to avoid impacting other parts of the valley.

"'I've never been involved in major parties, it's just I truly believe that the next ACT government needs an independent voice, somebody with commonsense and who will bring that to the assembly. My only vested interest is Tuggeranong, not a major party like the rest of the candidates."

Kirsten Lawson is news director at The Canberra Times

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