What would Andren do?

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September 7, 2010 by jessperriam

I saw a book on my friend and newlywed Keryn’s bookshelf the other night and I couldn’t help but think how timely it was considering the current Federal Election palaver.

So much so I grabbed it and borrowed it.

Peter Andren was my local MP for what was the blink of an eye. I moved to his electorate of Calare just as he had been preparing to run for the Senate as well as grappling with cancer.

He was a legend.

If you’re looking for a definition of an Independent politician, you should look no further than Mr Andren’s example.

He had truly been a part of the Central West NSW community for decades, he had been in the homes of ten of thousands as the news editor and newsreader for Prime News. As a journalist he saw and understood the issues closest to the constituents. But because he was a journalist, he found it impossible to align himself to a major party.

Two of the Independents currently keeping Australia in suspense, Bob Katter and Tony Windsor were elected during Mr Andren’s time in Federal Parliament.  He made it clear that he would ‘co-operate but not caucus’ with the two.

I met Peter Andren near the end of his time serving the people of Calare. He was gaunt but his spirits were still high as he chose to stay in his Bathurst electorate office and give interviews to the local media rather than give his farewell speech at Parliament House. He was still incredibly hopeful that he would beat his illness and set up an art gallery on the South Coast of New South Wales.

But unfortunately he didn’t make it to contest a seat in the Senate in the 2007 election. He didn’t see the Liberal Party lose power for the first time in 11 years.

I’m curious to know what Mr Andren would make of all this.

I wonder what he would think of the seven point list, the length of the decision making process and the reasoning behind the decision (as we’ve just seen from Bob Katter).

It really begs the question: is an Independent truly independent if they are called upon to help form a minority government?

Curious.

In the meantime, I’ll keep reading The Andren Report and try to understand what kind of a legacy Peter Andren intended to leave in his independence.

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