The Kim for Canberra party is off and running as a vehicle for aspirant independent senator for the ACT, Kim Rubinstein amid a growing shift away from the major political parties.
Preselections, endorsements, registrations and intentions to run or retire are broadly underway across the nation with the next federal election widely expected early next year.
The Canberra Times can reveal Professor Rubenstein has just secured a new higher target of 1500 members needed to apply to the Australian Electoral Commission to register as a political party.
"It's been overwhelming in its affirmation of people's desire for me to do this and to support what I'm standing for in running as an independent for the Senate," she said.
"I've got 500 members within a week. And as soon as people saw that the [electoral] rules had changed to require parties to have 1500 members, I think that added extra energy to people's support and interest in enabling me to apply to register as a party."
Legislation passed Federal Parliament earlier this month which lifted the membership threshold for registering a federal political party from 500 to 1500.
Registering as a political party means candidates such as the constitutional expert, lawyer and author can run as a candidate above the line on the Senate ballot at the next federal election.
"This achievement of me reaching 1500 members is really key and my registration being really key to putting me on an equal footing on the ballot paper," Professor Rubenstein said.
"Of course the parties have so much more money and backing, but on the ballot paper it will show that there's a real chance that Kim can win."
Australia Institute commissioned polling shows about seven per cent of Canberra voters favouring independents. The poll was conducted before Professor Rubenstein announced her intention to run as Kim for Canberra. As well, Newspoll, has shown a big national swing to independents and drops in approval ratings for the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.
There's also a marked surge of interest in independent candidates. Former charities CEO Kylea Tink has just announced she will run on a climate action ticket in Joe Hockey's former seat of North Sydney.
Currently held by Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman, the electorate had been held by a man known as the "father of the independents", Ted Mack, between 1990 and 1996.
Ms Tink is hoping to replicate Zali Steggall's 2019 sensational unseating of former prime minister Tony Abbott in the neighbouring federal seat of Warringah.
Professor Rubenstein is also inspired by the growing movement of independents and describes her support as drawn from across Canberra and beyond.
"I've had so many people say that they've never joined a political party before, but that me running has inspired them to do so," she said.
"A lot of former public servants, and a former diplomat who said to me she'd never joined, but she was just so enthused that I had."
"And then I guess the key things that they're responding to, I'm standing up for women's safety, I'm standing up for the most pressing issue of our time in terms of climate change and how I'm articulating that the parties have been obstacles to us to achieving real change in these areas."
Professor Rubinstein says she is in discussions with the Climate 200 initiative which has been formed to support the election of science based, climate-focused independents.
"I'm on my way," she said. "I feel like I've really begun that engagement process."
"Yes I am very buoyed and feeling very energised and hope others are too about the about the possibilities that this represents for improving democracy."
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