Why am I a Candidate for Lane Cove?

I have lived nearly all my life in Hunters Hill, most of which has been part of the State Electorate of Lane Cove since 1981. I care deeply about the communities and beautiful areas that make up this Electorate.

Disillusionment with our current Governments

I am concerned that many feel they did not vote for a lot that Governments of all persuasions have delivered in recent years. Personally, I feel disenfranchised by our political parties.

In NSW, if you voted for a party because they were ‘committed to returning planning powers to local communities’, who when in Government tried to create a system where 80% of development would be approved with no community notification or input, what respect were you shown as a voter?

Presently, I could not bring myself to vote for any of our political parties and I am sure I am not alone. Australians often appear to be voting for the ‘least worst’ option and to hamper the excesses of the elected Government, elect an obstructionist upper house including single interest parties that give no indication as to which way they will jump on issues that fall outside their narrow band of interest.

Can we improve our ‘representative democracy’?

One of the principles of good governance recently espoused by the former Commissioner of the Inquiry into Corruption in Queensland, Tony Fitzgerald, is that Governments should ‘keep the people properly informed, accurately informed and as promptly as possible in relation to all matters of public interest or potential controversy.’ 1

It is not difficult to find examples of the public being kept in the dark 2 and Government information is often spun, packaged or released at a time in the news cycle so as to achieve the level of examination the Government desires.

There must be greater openness and transparency at every level of Government – it is the flow of accurate information to the public that allows proper scrutiny of Government action.

Even if information about Government matters is received uncoloured, the process of community input concerning a matter is often frustrated. For example, community submissions regarding A New Planning System for NSW were largely ignored.

Furthermore, as most Members of Parliament are in Parliament because they have worked their way through a political party, there is a tendency for many of them to advance the interests and ideologies of their party ahead of the interests of those they are elected to represent.

Regrettably, this ‘elimination of electors from the process of government between elections tends to produce apathy and disengagement.’ 3

I would like to see re-engagement of electors and believe the best way for this to occur is the election to our Parliaments of strong Independent Members whose careers before politics will bring a diverse range of experience and expertise to the job and who will not just follow the party line because it is better for their future prospects. Presently, our Parliaments include too many who have had a narrow even if privileged education and have worked largely in political offices or as trade union officials.

We need strong Independent Members of Parliament, who will scrutinise Government action and provide a conduit through which electors are alerted about issues and through which responses that are representative of community views are returned.

Politicians should promote policy that is in the best interests of the communities that they represent and not be subject to ‘the corrosive control’ of ‘self-interested lobbyists’ 4 We should embrace open, rigorous and inclusive debate.

I would like to see our system of Government move further toward true representative democracy. I hope issues that I am able to raise during this election campaign will help to re-engage voters, giving them real choice about issues that matter to them.

An eye to the future

The time for apathy and ‘she’ll be right’ is over. Governments must be looking far beyond their current term of office. No issue demonstrates this more clearly than climate change, something we should have been dealing with decades ago.

The future prosperity of Australia depends on far more than being able to efficiently extract and export minerals. We must replace the industries we have lost in fields where we can no longer compete in world markets with our costs of production, which are part of living in a society with a good standard of living.

Conversely, without new industries with the capacity to suitably reward a more highly skilled workforce, it will be difficult for Australian standards of living to be maintained. A starting point is improved school education and vocational training – largely State responsibilities. If we fail in education, we are failing future generations.

The Current Political Landscape

As the Labor Party has needed to make another leadership change less than 12 weeks out from a State Election, it has little prospect of electoral success or perhaps even to recover much of the ground it deservedly lost after its unspectacular 16 years in office.

I expect NSW voters will distinguish between State and Federal issues and will return the Baird Government with a comfortable working majority.

I believe, with the likely make up of next New South Wales Parliament, the timing is perfect to elect strong Independent Candidates who will: work to prevent planning law shutting communities out of decision making; prevent the destruction of the TAFE system; and scrutinize asset sales and a range of other issues.

My Candidacy

As a long term member of the community, I believe I am well qualified to represent the people of the Electorate of Lane Cove as their Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly. As an experienced engineer I will deal with technical issues that many Parliamentarians will not recognise. As a graduate at law, I am well qualified to advocate for outcomes that are in best interests of the communities that make up our beautiful Electorate.

I encourage you to look at my policies. But as policy should be developed with community input, I also look forward to hearing your ideas.

If elected as an Independent, my position on the broad spectrum of issues will be guided by open consultation with the community – I will make every effort when invited to attend community, club, chamber of commerce and other meetings to ensure I fully comprehend issues that affect all parts of the Electorate.

I am not a single interest candidate. I will not be bound by any party line. But I will have an eye to the future.

I stand to give individuals and communities real choices about our future. We need to re-engage individuals in the process of Government by returning decision making to communities.

Best wishes,
Jim Sanderson
BE (Syd) MEngSc LLB LLM (UNSW)

1. ABC Television, ‘Former Corruption Commissioner Fears for the Future of Good Governance’, 7:30, 28 January 2015 (Tony Fitzgerald)
"http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4170096.htm".

2. See, eg, Nicole Hasham, ‘Parramatta Road information campaign shut down’, Sydney Morning Herald (online), 31 January 2015
"http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/parramatta-road-information-campaign-shut-down-20150130-1302dt.html".

3. Professor Cheryl Saunders ‘Democracy: Representation and Participation’ in P Finn (ed) Essays on Law and Government: Principles and Values(Vol 1) (1995) 51, 73.

4. Jackie Kelly, quoted by Latika Bourke, ‘Former Howard government minister Jackie Kelly quits the Liberal Party’, Sydney Morning Herald (online), 16 October 2014
"http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/former-howard-government-minister-jackie-kelly-quits-the-liberal-party-20141016-116w6z.html#ixzz3GRfFyv3Der".

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