Tuesday, October 3, 2023

On which side will the rural independents hang?

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Kookaburra, ARR.News
Kookaburra, ARR.News
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The issue of which party group (Liberal National Party Coalition or the Australian Labor Party) independent candidates will support in the event of what is known as ‘a hung Parliament’, in which neither major party group holds a majority in its own right, has become of increasing importance as we count down to the final days of the 2022 Federal Election Campaign.

Kookaburra decided that it could be helpful for readers of Australian Rural & Regional News if we were to conduct a survey of independent candidates from across rural and regional Australia to find out which party group they would support in the event of a hung Parliament.

As far as Kookaburra can determine, using Australian Electoral Commission data, there are 53 independent candidates running in rural and regional seats.

ARR.News was able to obtain contact details for 39 of the independent rural candidates to whom The Editor sent the following email:

Good afternoon [candidate],

I am writing to you as you are running as an independent candidate for a rural seat in the up and coming Federal election to be held on this coming Saturday, 21st May 2022.

Given the likelihood of a close result at the election, it would appear that the time has come for you to indicate, in the event that you are successful in the election, which side you would decide to support in the event of a hung parliament – the Liberal-National Party Coalition or the Australian Labor Party?

The readers of Australian Rural & Regional News (https://arr.news) will look forward to reading your response.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Fiona Fox

Managing Editor
Australian Rural & Regional News

As at the time of going to publication (24 hours later), we had received 13 replies.

We have added two others that have come in since then and will strive to include all responses that we receive.

All the replies are set out in full below in the order in which they were received.


As can be seen from the limited number of responses received, few of the independents appear to grasp the reality that, in the event of a hung Parliament, in order for one side or the other to form a government, i.e. for the Governor-General to commission the party leader who commands the confidence of the House to form a ministry for the purpose of running a government, then the independents will need to make a choice, within a relatively short time, as to which side they will agree to provide with that confidence.

This will not be a matter of determining each issue individually over an extended period of time. It will not be a matter of lengthy discussions about things which they would each like done for their electorates. It is something about which the independents, if they are being responsible in the true sense of a functioning liberal democracy, should have a clear view now. Further, this is a view which the independents should share with their voters now so that their voters can make a properly informed decision in regard to casting their votes.

Whilst some of the independents have started to work their way down the track of logic to making this decision, with one or two providing heavy hints as to how they might lean, most seemed happy to let the issue slide until after the election. Some were even wishing to use it as a bargaining chip – which appears to call into question just how much horse-trading they might be prepared to do in regard to their election ‘promises’. Some independents commenced discussing the benefits of a hung Parliament without seeming to understand that a preliminary step to working with a government to achieve the things which you might want from a hung Parliament requires first the commissioning of that government.

In other words, this decision takes priority over all others. Once this issue is settled, then it is time to work on the others.

One independent, Vince Pannell, who is running in the seat of Barker, S.A, did suggest a mechanism by which he could seek the opinion of his electors on this issue – which is perhaps the next best option after the better one of making a decision oneself.

Many of the independents did not answer the question themselves, already having developed the art of delegation with which those of us who deal with politicians regularly have become well-used. Weren’t the independents meant to be the opposite of this?

However, the most concerning aspect of this survey was the failure of many of the independents to respond at all. This may indicate any number of things – not having effective communications, not having taken the time to contemplate the issue, a degree of game playing, a disregard for their potential constituents and the importance that this decision will have in the lives of those constituents, who knows – but none of these options is a good one. None of the independents seemed to feel any obligation to be straightforward on this key issue. An issue upon which a very clear and simple decision can, and must, be made and publicised – now.

Here are the unedited responses from the rural independents:


Sinim Barbara AUSTRALIE

Hi Fiona

In the event of a hung parliament, I would decide on every issue produced by the respective parties. The overarching decision would be is the decision good for the people. If in the event I am the last independent to create a government I would be asking that my policies be part of the new government for me to provide guarantee of financial supply. I do not intend to allow my choice to be freely given.

I trust this will answer your question

Thank you,



Hi Fiona,

Jack has been speaking about this scenario since the campaign started and today he sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (copy attached).

Here is the statement he published online this morning:


Michael Gorey

Team Jack
Email: teamjack@jackforhinkler.com
P 07 4191 5900, M 0480 089 895



Hi Fiona, 

Thanks for the question.  It’s quite common I get asked this. 

Firstly – we just don’t know what this election is going to bring.  Without knowing what the result, it’s very difficult to cast any real judgement – just know the decision wouldn’t be made lightly (or without significant advice and consultation). 

I’ve been speaking with people who have been involved in politics, in parliament and who have even held that balance of power (no guesses who that was) and I will continue to consult with the community. 

I grew up in Tamworth and have country values. I struggle to agree with any of Labors policies – as I see them as detrimental to regional Australia. Their housing policy is only going to push the price of houses further up, and put pressure on working people when their income increases. I also have issues with some of the coalition’s policies and from speaking with members of the community – they share my concerns.

So I’m unable to answer at this time – except that I hold conservative regional aligned values to see industry, agriculture and education thrive in the New England. 

I’m more than happy to discuss this further with you. 

Matt Sharpham

Independent Candidate of New England
Family, freedom and Integrity” 



Dear Fiona

In Sarah’s words – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDxSTRFkFLA

Hung parliament – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8N_GLXldp4

Kind regards
Dr Leanda Care

Campaign Coordinator
Endorsed by Voices of Mornington Peninsula
Email: campaign@sarahrussell.com.au



Hi Fiona,

Thank you for your email!

In regards to a Hung Parliament, Kate answers this on the Q&A page of our website. It reads;

In the case of a hung parliament, who will you support – The Labor Party or the Coalition?

In the case of a hung parliament, I will approach each vote on its merits and work with members of all parties to secure an outcome that fits with the values of the Calare community whom I represent.  It is not a matter of picking “who” (parties) but examining “what” (policies) when making a decision.

My vote will always be independent, informed by evidence and expert advice, together with the views and values of the people I represent in Calare. My vote will not be influenced by any other actors, such as parties, donors, or lobbyists. My commitment is to the people of Calare.

I hope this answers your question satisfactorily, Fiona. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me and I seek a more direct response from Kate for you.



Michael Setford GRAVENER

Hi Fiona

In the event of a hung Parliament, I will determine which side I support based on

cost of living

roads spending

climate change action

ending endemic Aboriginal poverty

ending corruption, federal ICAC.

I will base my decision on merit and what is best for Lingiari when it comes to the issues guided by my conscience, integrity and accountability.

To be frank I cannot see much difference between both the major parties, however, I will more than likely lean toward the ALP at this stage, but this will be determined, if the situation arose, and through a full consultation process, what is best for Lingiari. Whatever way I decide will be with the best intention for Lingiari. I will make no apologies to work with the Lib/National coalition if that means a better outcome for Lingiari.

Whoever is in Gvt i will make sure that they abide by their promises and ensure that Lingiari is heard loud and clearly in our interests.

kind regards
Michael Gravener

Independent Candidate for Lingiari



Hi Fiona

This is the hardest question of the whole Election, as the possibility of a Hung parliament is very likely. If I was luckily enough to be elected, I would be looking at the Vote counts of the parties of this electorate as a bit of a guide. However this is not my decision, and I would be actually asking the people of the electorate to have their voice in this. Should this eventuate I have already investigated a way that this can be done where the electors will be able to place a vote on a system and then the tally of those votes would choose which side the Barker people work with.

Understanding that a least 50.01% of the electors voting preferences will not indicate to either party as that was how I got elected, so they need to have their say. On big issues like this that effects all of Barker the people need to have the input. I am only the voice not the vocal cords.

Vince Pannell

Independent Candidate for Barker
MB: 0416 265 878 
Authorised by Vince Pannell Mannum SA


Stuart BONDS

I’m almost impartial to who wins on Saturday.

The only reason I’d prefer Liberals is because I’d think the coal industry would be safer under their government, except they’ve gone net zero too.

I’m not going to commit anything to the Liberal/National government because they have done absolutely nothing for our area.

So yes I will hold the Nationals to account, (it’s only called bribery if you use your own money to get something done, if you use tax payers money apparently it’s called ‘funding’) and force them to do what they should of done  alone time ago and spend some money in the bush.

If they refuse to do it, then I will talk to the Labor Party.

Stuart Bonds.

Independent for the Hunter.



Hello Fiona,

Thank you for your question. I am completely unimpressed by both major parties at this stage and have no preference either way. I will support bills and policies that align with my principles, those that I believe to be in our best interest, not a particular party.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards​
Kelli Jacobi

Independent MP Candidate for Wide Bay

ps. For those who are interested, my policy document link can be found in bottom right here www.kellijacobi.com/about

This will give readers a good understanding of my priorities and stategies overall.

Kind regards​
Kelli Jacobi

Independent MP Candidate for Wide Bay


Hanabeth LUKE

Dear Fiona,

As an independent I don’t favour any political party.

In the event that neither major party win a majority of seats at the election, I will not do any formal deals and instead decide every issue on its merits, including questions of confidence and supply to any particular party.

What constitutes merit is the sum of many considerations including best evidence, the views of my community my conscience.

Any decisions I need to make immediately after the election will be done so as soon as possible and in consultation with my communities.

All the best,



Hi Fiona,

Thank you for your question.

I would never give away my independence to become a party associate, and will always work as one of the cross bench. All parties have good policy and all parties have detrimental policies. Policy should be assessed on a policy by policy basis, no fear, no favour.

Twice in the last 110 years Australia has required the cross bench to make a decision on who they would support to become Prime Minister. Interestingly in 1940, the cross bench supported a coalition PM, only disagree with the path the coalition went down and swap to a labour PM in 1941. There’s no successful autocracy in a minority government, it is in fact with a strong crossbench that democracy starts. Our job is to keep them honest and hold them to account.

If I am placed in a position to have to choose which leader will be PM (And how confident do you feel that they will be the same two leaders? Seems unlikely to me), I would sit down with both leaders and determine how they listen, how they engage, and how they are likely to successfully lead a minority government. 

Minority governments can be some of our most productive governments, but they are not for the lazy or obtuse.

Joanne Pearce



Hi Fiona,

I am Helen’s media adviser and your query has been forwarded to me. The following response can be attributed to Helen Haines MP:

“As an Independent politician, I am not controlled by any political party and I never will be. In a balance of power situation my actions would be driven by my values and the issues that matter to the people of Indi.

As an Independent I commit to never giving up my right to vote in the interests of Indi every time.

I have always been clear about the issues that are important to Indi: a robust federal integrity commission that stamps out corruption in politics, real action on climate change that brings opportunity and investment into the regions, and proper investment in regional health and mental health care.”

Best wishes,


Suzie HOLT

Hello Fiona,

Thank you for your email outlining your question which we could not read in full on our website.* As we race towards the end of the week and election day, Suzie and her campaign team continue to be in awe of all the people across the political spectrum asking us about the role of an elected Independent member of the Federal Parliament. Suzie reiterates her request, to whoever asks, that they Vote 1 for her and then fill in the rest of the boxes according to their choice. If Suzie has the honour of being elected the Federal member for Groom then her independent status will not change. Each decision she makes will take into account the best interests of her community, her region and Australia, after taking their wishes and the available evidence into account.

Thank you once again for contacting Suzie.

Kind regards
Penelope Lilford
(on behalf of Suzie Holt)

[Ed: The question has now been emailed]



Hello Fiona

Thanks  for your email. It’s flattering to be recognised as an independent in running a rural seat. Particularly in the  very safe of Lyne…

I am also delighted to know that my time seems to have come to indicate my “siding decision” in the event of a hung Parliament. 

I actually think it is a little premature, having pre-polled for  nearly a week solid for 10 hours a day, attended four meet the candidates until 11.00PM out of the last six evenings. 

What I can say Fiona is that I will consider very very carefully the options available to my  electorate and the  communities that have very little  funding under the Nationals for years in this particular seat. Funding that we should have had for infrastructure, health care services, sporting facilities and bush fire and flood  funding. 

I will consider my vote on the floor of the Parliament as a gift, and a privilege from the people of Lyne, to do the best to support them and assist them in improving their lot.

I will also take into consideration what ramifications there are for the people of Australia and who is wanting to form a government and who that leader may be in our country for the next three years.

As you would know a party leader in Australia is a dangerous job and often short lived. So we shall see who survives the day to be the leader of the major parties. 

I will also consider carefully who will actually care for Australians, really care, not sloganise the plight  of many. 

As I have often heard, 24 hours is a long time in politics – four days is a lifetime handing out how to vote cards !! 

If successful Fiona in the final count on Saturday I look forward to having an in depth conversation and response to my decision.

Congratulations  to you and the Australian Rural & Regional News paper – an Independent publication ….  gotta luv those Independents!!

Thank you for taking an interest

Yours sincerely
Steve Attkins

Independent Candidate for the Federal seat of Lyne



Dear Fiona,

What an interesting question to ask! The reason I am an Independent and voting the majors last is because I, and many other Australians have lost faith in both political parties. Under the 1901 Australian Constitution proclaimed and gazetted both political parties have failed to serve the people. {Do some research into the gradual corporate takeover of this country initiated by the political parties, particularly commencing 1973} I have no confidence in either party and feel the choice is rather limited when it comes to political leadership , honesty , truth telling and integrous stewardship of our Nation.


Nina Digiglio
Independent Candidate for Gilmore


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