Voices for Indi came into national prominence during the 2013 Federal election. That was a bit of a surprise as apart from our annual Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, that is not something North East Victoria might have expected. The election of Cathy McGowan AO as an independent to the House of Representatives seat of Indi was not anticipated by the political pundits or even Antony Green. But that has resulted in a lot of attention being given to what might be termed ‘the manner of doing politics’ and whether are there indeed any better alternatives.
We currently associate politicians with political parties and in recent years this has delivered a process of government that has been difficult to bear. Is that all there is? Can it be done differently? Very importantly, where in the current political process are there clear avenues for listening and discerning, for respect and for the appeal to our better selves? These are some of the questions that Voices for Indi is trying to bring into prominence by a series of events and processes and online discussions.
Voices for Indi commenced by initiating many conversations across the electorate. These focused on identifying the best of living in Indi and what people required of their political representatives. On 7th September 2013 there was a change of government in Australia, but what was far more remarkable and going against the tide was the decision made by people across Indi for a new style of representative.
Since then, following more interest (and curiosity) from near and far, Voices for Indi is now embarking on a much broader agenda. Something as big as, ‘reclaiming values in Australian politics’. Values like transparency of intent, about agreed principles of good government, about re-examining the ways we interact with each other politically. It’s ‘the vision thing’, as one former political leader once put it.
A more generous vision is something both of our major political parties once had and it was firmly based in their traditions. The threat that Australia faced in the Second World War saw the soon to be PM Robert Menzies make the ‘Forgotten People’ appeal, which was to become part of the foundation of the current Liberal Party. From 1949, Prime Minster Ben Chifley is remembered for his ‘Light on the Hill’ Labor vision for a better Australia.
Voices for Indi seeks to honour and to reclaim such approaches to vision and values in contemporary Australian politics. You do not have to listen for very long before encountering the current deep disillusion and cynicism about politics and politicians. It is almost across the board. How can we expect the new wave of voters and potential future leaders to engage eagerly in such a process unless we together offer a vision of something better? The ‘Politician’s Pledge’ promoted by the St James’ Ethics Centre in Sydney ahead of next Saturday’s NSW State election, is a really interesting current example.
Voices for Indi is a local group with a range of political personal preferences who believe that ‘it can be better’. For us that means intentionally seeking out the best of the values and principles that emerged successfully in the last Indi campaign and asking how they might be applied across the state, or across the country. It is that big and it is that important. It is only just beginning and if you can connect with this, your input will be important.