How did the independents go as a whole you ask? Read on, as we’ve ranked the top 30.

Peter Andren recorded an incredible 15 per cent swing in his favour in Calare to increase his status as the most popular independent in the country.

Tony Windsor successfully made the switch from the NSW Parliament in New England and Mad Bob Katter got back as expected in Kennedy with an increased vote from his effort when still with the Nats in 1998.

However, there was no independent standing in about half of the 150 seats and this might reflect the onerous requirement of finding 50 enrolled voters from the electorate to sign a petition supporting the nomination. Running for company boards usually requires 1 shareholder at the most and there is no need for a $500 deposit when running for a board either.

The system is certainly stacked against independents as they don’t get to see the latest electoral roll and donations to their campaigns are not tax deductible. It is also very difficult to marshall the troops to hand out HTVs at polling booths and you don’t get public funding at $1.72 a vote unless you crack 4 per cent.

Independents have also tended to do much better in rural and regional areas because they are often members of the Free Lunch movement and simply campaign on more handouts from the city folk.

Crikey is very proud to claim that the independent who got 7 per cent of the vote in Cheryl Kernot’s seat of Dickson, accountant Colin Kessels, is a family friend. Colin’s folks and my mum have been good friends for decades.

Apart from Peter McDonald in Warringah and dumped Labor MP Andrew Theophanous in Calwell, this was the best result by an independent running in a major city anywhere as this following ranking of independent votes attests. Note how poorly Hanson’s former adviser John Pasquarelli went in Bendigo.

1. Peter Andren: 51.63% to hold the seat of Calare with a 15.36 per cent swing to him.

2. Bob Katter: Increased his 1998 National Party vote to 47.51 per cent to win Kennedy easily.

3. Tony Windsor: won easily as the only new entrant into the Parliament with 45.75 per cent.

4. Peter McDonald: spent up big against Tony Abbott in Warringah but fell short with 28.68 per cent.

5. Shane Paulger: 10.25% to finish third in Fairfax.

6. Andrew Theophanous: 10.07 per cent as the dumped Labor incumbent in Calwell.

7. Peter Melville: 9.87 per cent to finish 3rd out of 6 in Hinkler.

8. Peter Cochran: 8.25% in Eden-Monaro to finish a disappointing 3rd after all the hype on his horse.

9. Conway Bown: 8 per cent in Herbert in Queensland and finished third beating Dems, Greens and One Nation.

10. Ros Hourigan: 7.99 per cent to finish third beating the minor parties in Fisher.

11. Tom Cooper: 7.89 per cent to finish third beating the minor parties in Page.

12. Nelson McIntosh: 7.18 per cent to finish 4th in Indi as Sophie Panopoulos took the seat.

13. Colin Kessels: A family friend of Crikey’s who got 7 per cent as Cheryl went down in Dickson.

14. Bruce Haigh: 6.25 per cent in John Anderson’s seat of Gwydir to finish 4th.

15. Kristin Stegley: 6.25 per cent in the Melbourne seat of Goldstein but finished last out of 5.

16. Trevor Mott: 5.96 per cent in Steve Martin’s seat of Cunningham to finish 5th.

17. Doug Treasure: 5.63 per cent to finish 3rd in Gippsland.

18. Maisie Austin: 5.17 per cent in Solomon to finish 4th out of 7.

19. Ross Douglass: 4.97 per cent in Mallee to finish 4th but did beat the Green.

20. Graeme Wicks: 4.85 per cent to finish 4th in Wide Bay in Queensland.

21. David Dalgleish: 4.38% to finish 5th out of 9 in Wide Bay.

22. Peter Craig: 3.13 per cent in Shortland.

23. Selwyn Johnston: 3.19 per cent in Blair to finish 4th out of 9.

24. Liz Ballinger: 3.13 per cent to finish 5th out of 6 in Barker (SA).

25. Bill Spragg: achieved a reasonable 3.08% in Mayo after distributing 35,000 pamphlets, 200 posters handing out at 20 booths.

26. Jospehine Tobias: 3.02 per cent to finish 7th out of 9 in Moncrieff.

27. Scott Butson: 2.93 per cent to finish 7th out of 10 and beat the Nat in Kalgoorlie.

28. Bob Berry: 2.85 per cent but still finished last in a seven horse field in Groom.

29. Harry Criticos: 2.43 per cent in Newcastle.

30. Leigh McDonald: 2.26 per cent to finish 5th out of 7 in Malcolm Fraser old seat of Wannon.

31. John Pasquarelli: 1.35 per cent in Bendigo for Hanson’s old adviser who was beaten by One Nation and all but one of the 9 candidates.

32. David Glanz: 1.34 per cent to finish last out of 6 in Bob Hawke’s old seat of Wills for the sub-editor who failed to get the Socialist Alliance registered as a party in time.

We’re very keen to hear from some of these independents explaining why they ran and how they performed. For exampl, the man who did so well in Herbert, Conway Bown, has sent this through:

How I got 8 per cent in Herbert

By Conway Bown

G’day Steve and the Crikey team,

Conway Bown here, Independent for Herbert (Townsville) and gained 8% of the primary ahead of One Nation, Dems and Greens.

The major parties are p**sed off with me because they wanted my preferences but I put out a 5 way split ticket and gave my preferences to every candidate. My card was quite long and had 5 different options to choose from. I also told those who bothered to read it that they didn’t have to follow the card. It was only a suggestion and that the voter should vote their conscience. (This was advice from Peter Andren).

My campaign was a success with a large proportion of the voters because it was optimistic and upbeat and I never descended into slinging mud. In fact my four different TV commercials that ran suggested to the voter that they were more than welcome to vote for my competition if they thought they’d do a better job. But I implored them to ‘think about their vote’. All up I spent $60,000.00 on my campaign from my own pocket.

The count up here still has not been finalised and the 6000 votes I gained (and the flow on preferences from One Nation which will go to me) will determine who wins the seat. So Peter Lindsay, the Liberal incumbent may still lose his seat.

There was a rumour going around that I was a Liberal party plant but I hopefully quashed that idea (at least in the minds of people who understand preferences) that I wasn’t a plant and that I was a pure independent preferencing everyone and favouring none.

I have plenty of other stories including crooked politicians, assaults and the whole gamut.

Check out my website at

Never give up.


CRIKEY: Rather than having everything filtered by journalists we are very keen to run emails and stories from the candidates, strategists, booth workers and the players themselves. Thanks for this insight Conway and all you other real players out there are encouraged to do likewise. Send contributions to [email protected]

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