CH 18

Brisbane Independents

Surround yourself with really good people. I think that’s an important thing. Because the people you surround yourself are a reflection of you.
– Aaron Rodgers

By the time the 2017 State election had been announced it really was a matter of standing up against the two major parties with a few good people, to try to make a difference. This was as much the case locally as it was at the state level,

Hetty Johnson Founder and Chair of Bravehearts
Hetty Johnson Founder and Chair of Bravehearts

At the state level there were some decent people standing as Independents, including Hetty Johnson (the founder and CEO of Bravehearts) Mick Kosenko and Rick Flori.

Mick Kosenko, an internationally renowned tattooist had fallen victim to anti-association law introduced by the Newman Government. The law provided that when two or more people from the same motorcycle club gather together, it is an offence. As a result, Mick’s business suffered and meant that (as a member of a club) he could be arrested if the next customer to walk through the door was also a club member. Mick was very popular in the community and nominated for the seat of Pine Rivers.

Rick Flori was a former cop and much celebrated whistle blower. He came to fame by releasing video footage of a member of the public being assaulted by police in an unprovoked attacked by police officers.

Amy McMahon, Mick Kosenko and Rob Pyne.
Amy McMahon, Mick Kosenko and Rob Pyne.

I was also happy to support Trevor Palmer who stood for Woodridge and Amy MacMahon in South Brisbane. They were my fellow David’s taking on the establishment Goliath.

Campaigning in Cairns

In Cairns there was by definition no party or institutionalised support for my “Independent” Campaign for re-election. However, I did have a group of loyal supporters who were there when I needed them. People who could see through the major parties and wanted justice, fairness and an MP who could represent local people and not a political party. People like Susan Prince, Simon Perry, Anthony Too, Paul Spray, Donna Mullaly, Steve Brech, John Pratt, Tayte Dalziel, Banyar, Jonathan Straus, Carla Gorton, Sarah Hoyle, Renee Lees. Sandra McGuiness, Harrison George, The Damara family and so many others. I will never forget that their help.

While we had campaigned valiantly, as polling day approached we were victims of two targeted attacks that really damaged the campaign. The first was what is known in politics as a ‘shit sheet’ that was letterboxed by the ETU. It repeated the false claim Petros Khaliserad was a stalker and implied I knew this and let him into parliament to intimidate a pregnant female MP. It was as nasty and politically damaging as it was based on false facts.

The other attack came from the extremist religious group ‘Cherish Life’ who rang everyone in the electorate and told them that I supported 9-month abortions. It is an absolutely ludicrous thing to say as there is no such thing as a 9-month abortion.  The only thing that happens at 9 months is delivery of what is hopefully a healthy baby.  I thought people would see how ridiculous such a claim would be. Alas, some people were happy to believe I would support what would amount to infanticide.

It is almost impossible for an Independent to get elected in the Queensland Parliament. Where it does happen, it is a result of our preferential system. It happens when an independent can garner enough votes to get ahead of one of the major party candidates. The success of an Independent is nearly always dependent on one of the major party candidates polling poorly. My big problem was the fact my LNP opponent Sam Marino was well liked by some sections of the community and had campaigned with great determination and energy. As he was going to get that support on top of the votes of people who ‘always vote LNP anyway’ my greatest fear was that I would not be able to get ahead of Sam to harvest his preferences. This fear was to prove correct.

Other Reference Material and Pictures

Queensland election_ Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston to run as independent – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Rob Pyne: A Far Northern Life

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A Far Northern Life