At this critical time, I would like to draw the attention of the voters of the Upper Hunter electorate of the rewards that come when you put an Independent into Parliament to work for your interests.
It's a brave step but once done can be very rewarding and empowering.
Voters in the Upper Hunter by-election don't have to look far to see some of these benefits.
At the NSW State level, the seat of Tamworth saw the benefits of having Independents represent them as did the New England Federal Electorate
Things that the community had been promised by the previous National Party members and governments were finally funded and delivered.
School upgrades, new health facilities and new infrastructure projects were delivered and further, policy and legislation that would previously have been just pushed through by the government of the day was influenced in its formulation and amended where necessary taking into account the impact on country people.
With the next full NSW election to be held at the end of March 2023, nearly two years away, the people of the Upper Hunter have the very real opportunity to make the most of a Minority Government by voting in an Independent to represent them.
No matter how you vote in this election you won't change the Government. But if you vote Independent, you can choose to secure real bargaining power for your electorate. An Independent result in the Upper Hunter will hand the balance of power to Upper Hunter voters until the next election.
More than that, it will remind both of the major Parties that the people of the Upper Hunter want to be listened to and not be taken for granted - that you won't be satisfied with them rolling out the same tired promises for basic infrastructure like bypasses or police stations that should have been delivered years before.
This will be quite apparent in the way the Government will work to win back the seat in two years' time and the current Opposition to win it to help them form Government.
Projects that have long been supported by the community will get funding. You will shape policy and legislative changes rather than just having to accept what the Government wants to push through because they have the numbers.
Remember, a good idea doesn't care who has it, so the Government will have to listen to you through your Independent MP and compromise to get their agenda through the parliament. They must be prepared to amend legislation when logical rational argument is put up by your Independent whose goal is to deliver the best outcome for the community.
I encourage the people of the Upper Hunter to be brave and experience for yourselves the benefits of your own Independent voice in the NSW Parliament.
Remember, if you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you have always got. OR, you can choose to do something different and get real bargaining power for your community.
It's your choice.
Former Independent NSW Member for Tamworth (1991-2001)
Former Independent Federal Member for New England (2001-2013)