From the Newsroom

Evans Head resident Dr Hanabeth Luke is running for the seat of Page at the upcoming Federal election as an independent candidate. Image: Contributed.

Levelling the playing field

Geoff Helisma


Election campaigns cost money, lots of money. The major parties, which more often than not form governments in their own right, have a distinct advantage when it comes to funding multi-million-dollar campaigns.

But, over recent weeks it’s the ‘teal’ independent candidates who have emerged as a threat to the current government’s re-election.

In an interview with SKY News’ Chris Kenny, PM Scott Morrison said, “Don’t vote for the anti-Liberal teal candidates, because they are anti-Liberal.”

Chris Kenny: “…therefore they [teal] are fake independents and are deceiving voters.”

PM Morrison: “Of course they are, of course they are.”

Tony Abbott says the teal independents are “Labor in disguise”, and his mentor, Peta Credlin, reckons that it’s wrong for independents to contest seats the Liberal Party “has a right” to retain.

However, the Australian Financial Review’s political editor, Phillip Coorey, might be closer to the money; he reckons the “teal independents pick up where the Democrats left off”.

The Independent spoke with teal independent, Hanabeth Luke, who is contesting the Page electorate.

GH: You say you will fight hard for a national integrity commission to hold all politicians accountable, including you, and that you “will always vote for our views and values – not vested interests or the party line”. If elected, how would you decide what “our views and values” are?

HL: From speaking with people across our communities. It comes back to basic Australian values of equity, giving people a fair go, mateship, taking care of each other and compassion; those things I find uniting, because no matter what side of politics people are from, they often say this isn’t what I signed up for.

GH: Your sponsor, Climate 200, says it is aiming to raise at least $15-20 million to help level the playing field for 10-12 high quality, values-aligned candidates; how much has Climate 200 put towards your campaign?

HL: When I signed up to Climate 200, there were three things that they required. One, that I had a team around me, two, that I raised my own funds, and three, I had to tick a box saying I agreed to act with honesty and integrity as a candidate and in government. In terms of funding, at the end of last month we’d raised over $50,000 from hundreds of community donations, which was matched by Climate 200.

GH: Climate 200 founder Simon Holmes a Court told the National Press Club that “we don’t have a policy platform, we have a set of values”, and he denies that the candidates Climate 200 supports would be beholden to his will; can you explain how that would be the case, given that he also says Climate 200 is not a political party, but a collective of people aiming to create a “Federal Parliament where a clear majority of MPs back decisive, science-based climate action, and have the courage and vision to seize the incredible economic opportunity decarbonisation presents to Australia”?

HL: They don’t even ask us to act on climate … but that’s what we are passionate about and that’s why we’re running … we are severely disappointed in the action that the government is taking to pervert the course of climate action. I think it’s so important to do what you say you will do, to tell the truth and take responsibility when you make a mistake.

GH: Your website’s policy statement, under the ‘Honest Politics’ heading, states that you will work to “raise the standards of Australian political debate by putting an end to misleading and deceptive political adverts and making electoral funding transparent for all candidates” – what will it take, in terms of which major political party wins the most seats, to make that a reality, given the lack of will from both sides to address those issues?

HL: I think it will take three more independents getting up. If we can get the balance of power, in terms of those on the cross bench who are wanting integrity; [If we] get the balance of power, whatever government is [elected], we will be working hard, particularly on those two issues, but also on the issues [important] to our electorate.

GH: You have said you won’t allocate preferences at the election, why?

HL: Because, if [I] allocate preferences, [I would be] associated with a party. [People] voting for me come from all sides of politics and are intelligent enough to be able to make up their own minds.


Note: Ms Luke’s specific policies can be viewed on her website.