Geoff Helisma, Clarence Valley Independent
As the federal election nears, former ABC journalist, presenter and interviewer, Kerry O’Brien, will join former member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, at the Grafton Services Club on Sunday April 3.
The pair will speak about how independent candidates can help stop the “erosion of democracy” in Australia.
Ms McGowan won the 2013 election as the independent candidate endorsed by ‘Voices4Indi’ (V4I), which is “not a political party”, the V4I website states, nor does V4I “offer endorsements for any other ‘Voices for’ groups”.
However, V41 “openly shares many of the resources that were developed for Indi”.
“Each community is encouraged to explore the particular circumstances and issues of their own electorate, to help inform and strengthen any political action.”
Ms McGowan was re-elected in 2016 and another V4I-backed candidate, Dr Helen Haines, won the 2019 federal election.
Kerry O’Brien and Cathy McGowan will address the subject, The Erosion of our Democracy, how to reclaim it and the role of independents.
A group of like-minded citizens has formed Voices4Page, which is supporting independent candidate Hanabeth Luke, and “invites our community to this important event”.
“The event will be moderated by a well-known local and is guaranteed to get everyone thinking about how we can all play a part in protecting democracy,” Voices4Page spokesperson Prue Leggoe said in a media release.
“This topic is very much in people’s minds at the moment, as more and more folk feel disenfranchised and let down by the political process; [they] feel their voices do not get heard at many levels of government and by political parties.
“How can we improve this? The strength of our communities has been seen during the response to the floods, but is their voice really heard when it counts?”
“Voices4page believes having an independent community candidate is the start to a better way of doing things.”
Meanwhile, since leaving the ABC, Kerry O’Brien has been a vocal critic of systematic changes made by governments, which he says are eroding democracy.
For example, in august 2021, he told the SMH, “Every year, there are more changes to national security laws; every year there is much greater access both at a government and commercial private level to our private lives and in the accumulation of data.
“The Freedom of Information laws, which were originally introduced by the Whitlam government to try and create a greater culture of openness within government, are diminishing in front of our eyes.”
The FREE event takes place the Grafton District Service Club on Sunday April 3, from 2.30pm for a 3pm start.
To book, go to Hanabethluke.com.au/campaigntrail – numbers are strictly limited.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 23 March 2022.