Debate continues over political parties in local government as three party members run as independents

Voters will have 80 candidates to choose from on September 9, including three party endorsed tickets.
Voters will have 80 candidates to choose from on September 9, including three party endorsed tickets.

Three candidates will contest the Queanbeyan-Palerang council election as independents despite being members of political parties.

Kenrick Winchester (Labor), Walter Raynolds (Liberals) and Phil Shoemark (Nationals) declared their party membership on the candidate nomination form as is required.

But they will run for council as independents.

The three major Australian political parties, Labor, Liberals and the Greens, will all have endorsed tickets for the first time in the region’s history.

Those who oppose parties at the local level argue that they invite party politics into council chambers and create ideological voting blocks.

Many, including former Mayor Tim Overall, feel political parties should have no place in local government. Photo: James Davies

Many, including former Mayor Tim Overall, feel political parties should have no place in local government. Photo: James Davies

Administrator Tim Overall, who before being elected as mayor in 2008 was accused of Liberal Party ties in a leaflet spread by the Labor Party, said emphatically that parties had no place in council.

“I have a very strong philosophical view that party politics and political parties should be a matter for state and federal parliaments, not local government,” Mr Overall said.

“It’s unfortunate that party politics enter into local government because ideologies come into play.”

Mr Raynolds said he respectfully declined an opportunity to appear on the Liberal ticket as he felt he would do better on his own.

“In local government the issues are local issues,” Mr Raynolds said.

“It’s who’s street gets fixed first, who gets their lawns mown first, what to do with public money is the issue. There is no room for party politics in these things.”

Mr Shoemark said his National Party membership was more of a family tradition than a guiding political principle and said should he be elected “wouldn’t want to be dictated to by anyone”.

Greens candidate Katrina Willis questioned why party supporters should be denied the chance to vote for their preferred party at all levels of government.

“A candidate backed by a party should give voters some certainty on where they stand and the values they bring to the role,” Ms Willis said.

Mr Winchester said he would have run for Labor preselection if he had been a party member for the required two years. He said those who argued against political parties on council were being naive.

“People say there should be no political parties in local government well I can tell you it’s intensely political,” Mr Winchester said.

“Anyone who says they aren’t a politician running for council will quickly become one.”

“It doesn’t hurt to have relationships with the major political parties that run our country.”