The year 2001 is the year of the election and we’re looking for candidates to get behind in WA and the upcoming by-elections in Campbelltown and Ryan.

The year 2001 will be the biggest election year in Australian history and we want as many people as possible to step forward and participate for a change.

Australia has more politicians per head than any country in the world but less members of political parties per head than any modern western democracy. In other words, we’re overgoverned by parties that are heavily under-representative of the broader community.

And with the major parties both wallowing in mediocrity and corruption, we’re keen to encourage independents to step forward in the absence of credible minor parties.

WA voters have a penchant for backing strong independents. Can you believe that in the seat of Churchlands, a Liberal-leaning independent called Liz Constable won an incredible 83.22 per cent of the primary vote in the 1996 election.

A total of 40 independents stood in 1996 and overall they did very well, with Ernie Bridge, who is retiring this time around, winning 61.48 per cent of the primary vote although Labor did not contest the seat.

The WA Legislative Council is also an appetising opportunity for independents and minor parties with all 34 seats being recontested each four years through proportional representation across five regions.

The two regions with seven Legislative Council seats up for grabs – North Metropolitan and South West – are obviously the best for minor parties because you can be elected with a much smaller proportion of the primary vote.

The Greens won three seats in the upper house in 1996 with just 5.55 per cent of the primary vote and the Democrats picked up two seats with 6.58 per cent. Previously they held one seat between them.

A total of eight independents contested Upper House seats and together won 3.8 per cent of the primary vote but no seats.

The Court government have 17 of the 34 Upper House seats but Labor are down to just 10 seats after two MPs, Mark Nevill and Richard Helm, resigned from the party and became independent over the past 18 months. They were both from the Mining and Patoral region so what happens here will be very interesting, especially with One Nation competiting for the first time.

If you want to stand in WA, you need to have lived in the state for the past year and be prepared to put up a $250 deposit which you’ll get back if you win more than 10 per cent of the primary vote.

Check out the highly informative website of the WA Electoral Commission at http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/ for more information.

When Crikey stood in the by-election for Jeff Kennett’s old seat of Burwood in December 1999, the deposit was $400 but you got it back with any primary vote above four per cent. You also had to find six residents of the electorate to nominate you.

If you’re not from WA, how about you try your luck in NSW or Queensland.

Candidates wanted for Campbelltown by-election

Labor Party head-kicker Michael Knight has formally handed in his resignation and the by-election for his safe seat of Campbelltown is being held on February 3.

At the last state election in 1999, Knight dominated with 54.76 per cent of the vote in a field of nine. The Liberal candidate came second with 21.36 per cent, followed by One Nation with 9.28 per cent, the Democrats with 4.19 per cent and the Greens with 3.54 per cent. The only independent who stood won just 2.04 per cent.

The Liberals, under lame duck leader Kerry Chikarovski, have decided not to run a candidate in Campbelltown so we’re in the hunt for a solid citizen to back as an independent.

But there are only a few days remaining as nominations close on January 18.

Knight hasn’t lived in the seat for many years and started out there as a left-winger before switching to the Right on the advice of his unethical mentor Graham Richardson.

Knight told someone that Crikey knows that he wants to become the next Henry Kissinger, namely the highest paid political consultant in the world. After single-handedly pulling off the biggest peace time event in history, surely the boy from Campbelltown is up to the task now.

However, Knight’s churlish attacks on Sandy Hollway have damaged him in PR terms forever and it will be interesting if the people of Campbelltown decide to give him a retrospective kick.

This might be a great an opportunity for an independent to come through the middle because the Carr government is not exactly performing well. Places like Campbelltown have suffered terribly from Carr’s pokies epidemic and many small businesses are battling in the face of high taxes, rising tolls and the highest WorkCover costs in the country. We’ve also just heard about the financial drain that Olympic Park will be on the taxpayers for decades to come. They might need even more than 10 per cent of the world’s poker machines in NSW to pay for it.

Wanted: a candidate to run in Ryan

What a selfish git that John Moore is, forcing a by-election on the people of Ryan in Brisbane just 10 months before a general election will be held.

The ALP are making noises about not standing a candidate so we’re on the prowl for a solid citizen to back as an independent in the traditional Liberal seat.

Taxpayers will be several hundred thousand dollars worse off for Mr Moore’s selfish decision. Given that he’s a wealthy former stockbroker retiring with a handy parliamentary pension, maybe he should be required to meet part of the cost personally.

The branch stacking amongst the Liberals that has been going in Ryan has been reportedly bitter and distasteful.

But despite the Queensland Libs being in complete disarray, the Labor party looks even worse given all the rorting exposures of late.

With neither major party appealing for voters, this is the perfect seat for a high profile independent to come through the middle and take it. Does anyone know such a person in Brisbane.

Remember when former football identity Phil Cleary got up and knocked off Bob Hawke’s old seat of Wills in 1992.

Cleary’s only line was that we’ve got to stop the tariff walls coming down and it went down well with the voters, even though he didn’t have much else in the policy basket.

The Libs did appallingly in the two state by-elections held last year and with David Watson providing uninspiring leadership at a state level and a long-serving minister bowing out, the Libs are looking a bit shaky.

This is what makes Labor’s equivocation so hard to fathom. The Federal election might well be won or lost in Queensland yet Labor is baulking at the first chance to inflict some damage on the government. The rorting damage must be pretty severe.

If you believe in democracy you believe in running for elections so let’s teach that arrogant John Moore a lesson for causing such an unnecessary by-election.

John Colinton Moore got 50.4 per cent of the primary vote in 1998 and 59.52 per cent in two party preferred terms so it’s a pretty safe Liberal seat although the margin was closer to 17 per cent in the 1996 landslide.

In terms of primary votes last time, the Greens got 3.83 per cent, the Democrats 7.83 per cent and Hanson took 5.24 per cent, so the minor parties shared 17 per cent between them.

Peter Fray

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