While I’m sure that quite a few passionate Greens members and supporters will be a bit dismayed at my decision to stand as an independent at the state election, I can assure you that it was not a decision that was made lightly.
While the Greens are not like other political parties in terms of structure and policy development, my experience was that there is a growing focus on the inner workings of the party and the politics that go with that.
Standing as an independent and focusing my energies on the issues that I’m passionate about I will be better placed to serve the people and represent the issues that matter to the Ballina electorate.
Another point of difference is the issue of fluoride. The Ballina Shire is about to have its water fluoridated without any public consultation or poll. I am passionately against this decision and how it was introduced.
The NSW Greens are split on this issue and therefore don’t have a policy on it. They will never actively campaign to remove fluoride and their MPs are not allowed a conscious vote on important local issues such as this.
Furthermore, it can often be a disadvantage being an active member of a political party when campaigning and organising community campaigns.
The Save Ballina’s Koalas campaign and the Gasfield Free movement are two classic examples of community driven campaigns. The aims of the movements are to provide a groundswell of community support that crosses the political divide to achieve change.
I’ve also often found on Ballina Shire Council that other councillors from different political parties tend to look for reasons not to support an issue or position due to party politics, rather than what are the benefits for the electorate.
As an independent the issues and policies that are important to the community will be centre stage and community engagement won’t be seen through the prism of partisan party politics.
Jeff Johnson, Independent candidate for Ballina