News National Your country needs you! The 10 Australians who should run as independents
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Your country needs you! The 10 Australians who should run as independents

Jimmy Barnes MCG
Jimmy Barnes and the MCG in winter – could not be more Australian unless Farnesy was also there. Photo: Getty
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Dr Kerryn Phelps’ achievements in Wentworth inspired other independent thinkers to signal they might have a crack at political life.

Media commentator (and The New Daily contributor) Jane Caro said on Twitter she’s thinking about running in Tony Abbott’s NSW seat of Warringah.

“I feel duty bound to do what I can to stop the climate deniers and the far right destroy my grandchildren’s future.”

Comedian Magda Szubanski followed suit: “I would like nothing more than to stay out of politics. But recent events mean in good conscience I can’t stay silent. Make of that what you will,” she tweeted.

With the ball rolling on potential independents who could shape the next government, The New Daily canvassed readers and sharpened a short list of potential candidates with heart, intellect and the courage of their convictions. No more suburban solicitors or failed marketing managers.

LEE LIN CHIN

Lee Lin Chin
You rock the party, Lee Lin. Photo: Instagram

With 100,000 more social media followers than Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg put together, the former SBS newsreader and Gold Logie loser – her words – could probably win any seat in the country. If anyone is down with the peeps, it’s Lee Lin.

Imagine her on the hustings: Whip smart, hilarious, fearless, self-deprecating, an expert on international affairs and the probable architect of the reinvention of what passes for corporate dressing in Canberra.

Lee Lin has time on her hands just now and won’t have any pesky citizenship issues.

Lee Lin Chin tweet

SUSAN CARLAND

Waleed Aly Susan Carland
Susan Carland with husband Waleed Aly. Photo: Instagram

The Melbourne academic and author – who describes herself as ‘hijabulous’ – would bring a towering intellect and feminist perspective to Parliament.

University lecturer Dr Carland already has political chops – she’s active on the Islamic Council of Victoria – but she’s also relatable and contemporary with a sense of humour. At home with husband, The Project’s Waleed Aly, and their two kids, she’s a dab hand at the basic political skills of negotiating and prioritising: “The secret to being married more than 16 years? If my husband ever tries to look better than me in a photo, I shut that thing down.”

NICK CUMMINS

Nick Cummins
Cheers, Honey Badger. Photo: Instagram

Yes, the old Honey Badger. Is there a more Australian Australian anywhere on Earth? He’s super patriotic, never puts on the dog, handy (if the lights went out at Parliament House, he’d fix them with a bit of string and some chewy) good at sport, and willing to try anything once. Even reality TV.

Cummins was vilified by some for his refusal to choose either of his final two women in this year’s The Bachelor, but for us it was a sign of his nobility and staunch ethics. He wasn’t in love and wasn’t going to pretend. Self-awareness and sticking to your guns: How would Canberra handle it?

MESHEL LAURIE

Meshel Laurie
Any skeletons in Meshel Laurie’s closet? Photo: Instagram

This is a woman who has seen a bit in her time and can still find humour in most places. One of her first jobs was as a brothel receptionist, so she understands human nature and discretion, and her strong following as a comedian means she’d have in-built voter support.

Laurie is also a single mother who lives the juggle of kids, money, split households and career. She’s authentic and can’t be bullied, and her years of being heckled on stage mean she’d have a tough skin and be resilient in the parliamentary snake pit. She’s also compassionate and way into politics: Check out her Twitter feed.

DENG ADUT

Deng Adut
Deng Adut: Walking the talk. Photo Getty

That bit about no more suburban solicitors doesn’t apply to Mr Adut. A former South Sudan child soldier who was granted a visa to Australia in 1998 when he was 14, he studied accounting and law while mastering English and working at a petrol station and factories.

Now a Sydney criminal lawyer, Mr Adut is a top public speaker – he gave the 2016 Australia Day address – and self-made man with the courage of his convictions. Along with activism and advocacy as hobbies, he’s a gun at one-armed pushups, shares shots of his baby daughter on social media, likes cigars and is a handy cook.

JIMMY BARNES

Jimmy Barnes
Barnesy flies the flag. Photo: Getty

Barnesy clearly needs no introduction or PR spiel but deserves one anyway. Apart from his still-knockout voice – witness how he smashed his AFL Grand Final day set – he’s proved to be an expert, honest communicator via his autobiographies.

He’s survived a harsh childhood, booze, the rock industry and is now a far from docile grandfather with a boxer’s fighting sensibilities and a pragmatic mind. And he loves his adopted country with a freight train heart. He’d also be handy to tap to take the stage at the Winter Ball.

ANDREW DENTON

Andrew Denton
Andrew Denton during Victoria’s voluntary euthanasia debate in 2017. Photo: Getty

Television’s voice of reason has never backed away from a fight but does it with elegant kid gloves, even when grilling reluctant celebrities about their private lives and foibles. He’s charming, urbane and has a brain like a steel trap.

Denton showed his political hand during the push to pass voluntary euthanasia laws in Victoria in 2017, but refused to let his own fame overtake the issue. It was deft and stylish and we’d like to see more of it. Although his in-built bullsh-t detector might drive him mad in Canberra.

ITA BUTTROSE

Ita Buttrose
Ita Buttrose with her 2013 Australian of the Year award. Photo: Getty

The trailblazing former magazine editor was a working mother in the 1970s, was magnetic enough to inspire a Cold Chisel song in her honour (1980’s Ita) and is still plying her trade on TV panel shows, thanks to her charisma and experience.

After a long career, her ambitions would be more for her country than herself and she’s connected to a host of Australian power brokers. She’s classy, straight-shooting and doesn’t take herself too seriously. Men and women admire her. What’s not to love, voters?

NOEL PEARSON

Noel Pearson
All for country: Noel Pearson at the 2018 Garma festival. Photo: Getty

The Cape York Aboriginal community leader, academic and father of three is a strong voice for Indigenous people but can pretty much talk about anything: He’s a lawyer by trade but land rights advocate and activist by passion.

Mr Pearson is nothing if not political, and he’s not afraid to dish it up to the highest echelons of Australian government. Speaking in August before the annual Garma festival in north-east Arnhem Land, he said people shouldn’t accept the word of the prime minister on constitutional enshrinement of land rights: “We can’t be that weak. We can’t take the word of an ordinary person.”

CATHERINE McGREGOR

Catherine McGregor
Catherine McGregor was a 2016 Australian of the Year nominee. Photo: Getty

The former army and air force officer is made of stern stuff. In 2013, when she was the highest-ranking transgender person in the Australian Army, she wrote a video speech for the chief of army – for whom she was strategic adviser – that slammed misogynistic behaviour in the armed forces.

Now a cricket commentator and writer, Ms McGregor is nothing if not outspoken. In December 2016 she was removed from the Australian of the Year honour roll at her request, stating the awards are a “farce”, and in May publicly apologised for initially opposing the Safe Schools programs: “Young trans people need an ally. I could have helped, and I didn’t, and I regret that.”

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