Independents have few regrets

by Chris Griffith
Published 4 February 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


Mundingburra's independent candidates have few regrets about standing, even though their election messages were lost in the slanging contest between the major parties.

Despite weeks of sweating it out on the campaign trail, some independents enjoyed only a momentary spotlight of media glory when they announced their preferences to either Tony Mooney or Frank Tanti -- and an ear-full of abuse from the major party they rejected.

To the major parties, the independents were a curse, a complication and distraction in the predatory battle for every extra vote and second preference.

In a field of 12 candidates, most independents will forfeit their $250 deposit for receiving less than four percent of the primary vote.

So what has the campaign meant to the less acclaimed Mundingburra candidates? Did they succeed in getting their message across? Or have their views been swamped by the fight-to-death battle for government between Labor and the Coalition, and by the utterings of former ALP minister Ken Davies?

The most positive of the independents yesterday appeared to be Australian Women's Party candidate Pauline Woodbridge, who described her candidacy as "an historic and groundbreaking start for the party".

"They (the major parties) now know they must stand more women in parliament," she said.

Ms Woodbridge said the media had treated her "extremely well" -- when compared to other independent candidates.

Small business candidate Tisha Crosland, too, regarded the experience positively.

She said standing had been "definitely worthwhile", despite a disaster three days into the campaign when she lost $3,852 in suits, sports jackets, and shirts after her men's clothing store was burgled.

On the other hand, one independent felt very disappointed by the campaign.

Independent green candidate Antony Bradshaw said he had battled uphill to get his environmental messages across, despite his experience as a candidate in three previous campaigns.

He said organisations such as the Wilderness Society and the Queensland Conservation Council had managed to high jack the media and dominate the debate from the environmental viewpoint -- even though it was he who was standing for office, and not them.

One candidate who was eminently happy with proceedings, but was still clearing out of Townsville anyway was colourful Gold Coast identity Christian Jocumsen.

Mr Jocumsen, who campaigned on a northern development platform, said he would be on the road today, hitch-hiking his way back to the coast.

He said he was needed to appear in the Brisbane District Court in the prosecution's case of a man charged with a $7,500 theft.

Mr Jocumsen, better known as a free beach campaigner on the Gold Coast, said his Mundingburra experience had prompted him to consider running in the federal election in MacPherson or in "some Brisbane marginal".

Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) candidate Billy Tait said Mundingburra had convinced him that the pro-cannabis lobby must seek more direct electoral support before a relaxation of the marijuana laws was likely.

While neither major party softened it stance against cannabis, Mr Tait said the campaign had shown North Queenslanders that cannabis users would stand up publicly and be counted.

"We are here, and this issue needs to be looked at by the community," he said.

Building subcontractor lobbyist Sandy Warren said he now hoped the state government would protect subcontractors from unscrupulous builders.

Mr Warren said he represented 160 families whose lives had been ruined by builders who had become bankrupt or changed their company structures to avoid paying subcontractors.

"I believe a lot our guys have been traditional Labor supporters, but Labor turned their backs on them."