Voices of Hume prepares to announce independent candidate

POLITICAL ACTION: Voices of Hume convenor Matt Murfitt says there's a groundswell of support for an independent candidate to run against sitting MP Angus Taylor. A launch will be held in Goulburn on November 13. Photo supplied.

POLITICAL ACTION: Voices of Hume convenor Matt Murfitt says there's a groundswell of support for an independent candidate to run against sitting MP Angus Taylor. A launch will be held in Goulburn on November 13. Photo supplied.

Climate change policy will not be the sole focus of a group's campaign to topple Angus Taylor in Hume.

Instead, the Voices of Hume group says any contender will need a broader platform in order to claw back the sitting MP's 13 per cent margin.

The community organisation will announce its independent candidate at the Goulburn Recreation Area on Saturday, November 13. Their identity remains a secret but co-founder Matt Murfitt says she is a long-term Goulburn Mulwaree resident "with many years of service."

She was chosen from four contenders following a call for nominations.

Television presenter, actress and comedian Julia Zemiro will launch the campaign with former Indi independent, Cathy McGowan.

Climate 200, led by Simon Holmes 'a Court, has hinted at funding for the tilt against the Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister. However Mr Murfitt said there was no firm commitment yet.

"It is possible we will take money from them. What they will want in return is someone with more ambitious climate targets," he told The Post.

Mr Holmes 'a Court has a reported $2.5 million war chest to throw at independents standing on the climate change issue.

Mr Murfitt helped form Voices of Hume 18 months ago to end "the rich man style of politics" that was fixated on "power grabs" and the "fastest source of campaign money." Though living outside the electorate in Bowral, he said he was tired of politicians towing the party line rather than listening to voters.

"I'm from a business background and things shouldn't work that way," he said.

"(Politicians from the major parties) don't seem to be able to connect with and build community. It's easier for them to get big donations. We are trying to revert to the old way."

The group began 'kitchen table' type discussions modelled on those adopted by Voices of Warringah and Voices 4 Indi that helped install independents Zali Steggall and Cathy McGowan respectively.

SUPPORT: Former member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, will launch the Hume independent candidate's campaign in Goulburn next month. Photo supplied.

SUPPORT: Former member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, will launch the Hume independent candidate's campaign in Goulburn next month. Photo supplied.

They asked people in the Wollondilly, Camden, Wingecarribee and Goulburn Mulwaree council areas what they wanted. They rated overdevelopment on farmland and nature, community consultation, "inaction" on climate change and infrastructure to support growth among key issues, according to the Voices of Hume report.

"When we asked people why they wanted to vote Angus out, only 30 per cent said it was due to climate change. The rest were motivated by his performance as a Minister," Mr Murfitt said.

Instead, the candidate would pick up on what the community wanted. This included affordable childcare, better roads and infrastructure and greater accountability and integrity from politicians.

Television and radio presenter, actress, singer and comedian Julia Zemiro will help launch the independent's campaign in Hume. Photo supplied.

Television and radio presenter, actress, singer and comedian Julia Zemiro will help launch the independent's campaign in Hume. Photo supplied.

Mr Taylor could not be contacted for detailed comment given his attendance at the Glasgow climate summit. However his office released a previous statement that he remained committed to the electorate.

"In all three elections I've campaigned in, there has always been a mixture of independent, minor and major party candidates. That's what a good democracy should have, and I welcome that," Mr Taylor said.

"...The Morrison Government has a clear and comprehensive plan to continue to reduce emissions. Our strong track record, with emissions already more than 20 per cent lower than 2005 levels.

"We have reduced emissions faster than any major commodity exporting nation in the world and faster than many other comparable countries, including Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

Climate for change?

Mr Murfitt conceded that emissions reduction was not the number one issue.

He drew distinctions between independent Huw Kingston's climate action driven campaign against Mr Taylor in 2019. Mr Taylor managed to increase his margin by 2.8 per cent.

"Huw didn't have the backing of Voices of Hume," Mr Murfitt said.

"It was a captain's call and I don't think it was ever going to be enough, regardless of the platform."

Voices of Hume had so far raised "less than $40,000" and has about 300 volunteers. Mr Murfitt maintains a win is "not insurmountable" if the group convinces people to nominate Mr Taylor last on the ballot paper.

"We need to peel away about 25 per cent of Angus's voters," he said.

"...I definitely think it's possible. We just have to make it a two-horse race."

He did not expect Labor to seriously contest the seat.

Vote Angus Out convenor Alex Murphy addressed a gathering at Goulburn's Victoria Park in June. It was one of several held throughout the electorate. Photo: Burney Wong.

Vote Angus Out convenor Alex Murphy addressed a gathering at Goulburn's Victoria Park in June. It was one of several held throughout the electorate. Photo: Burney Wong.

Meantime, Vote Angus Out convenor Alex Murphy said his group had raised about $64,000 and gathered 1500 subscribers since forming. He attended a Voices of Hume meeting two years ago and decided he wanted a more focused entity. He too said he was disenchanted with politicians and large donor influence.

"(But) for a candidate to succeed in Hume, they must go further than Angus on climate change policy. On that, he is under-performing not just in action but voting against the release of modelling for the plan (announced this week)," Mr Murphy said.

Yet if the independent's campaign concentrated solely on this issue, he believed it would fail because people were more concerned about cost of living, childcare and the like.

While ousting Mr Taylor would be an "uphill battle," he argued it was not impossible, as evidenced by Zali Stegall's toppling of Tony Abbott in 2016 and Cathy McGowan's 2013 triumph against Liberal Sophie Mirabella in Indi.

Voices of Hume and Vote Angus Out are separate groups but Mr Murphy says there are some common members.

The Voices of Hume candidate's launch will be held at the Goulburn Recreation Area on November 13 from 10.30am to 1pm.

  • Voices of Hume is distinct from Community Voice for Hume, which describes itself as apolitical.