Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Introducing the story of the New England Independents

In a post on my personal blog, Thank you Richard Torbay, I looked at the unfolding story of Richard Torbay's resignation and expressed my personal thanks to Richard on certain things.  There I referred to a Sydney Morning Herald Story that said in part:

Mr Torbay is known for assisting independents to run against Liberal and Nationals candidates.

The Lake Macquarie MP, Greg Piper, is close to Mr Torbay, but he is also understood to have assisted the former Dubbo MP, Dawn Fardell and Peter Draper, the former member for Tamworth.

Before the 2011 election Mr Torbay is believed to have aided the former Liberal mayor of Hornsby, Nick Berman, in his unsuccessful bid against Liberal Matt Kean.

Mr Tripodi was spotted having coffee with Mr Berman during the campaign.

My response was as follows:

Well, bloody hell, what a surprise and what does it mean? As I have written, the New England independents formed a different political movement. And yes, in this role they did support other independents in an organised way. That's not a secret. But it has absolutely nothing to do with the main theme of the story beyond adding to doubts about the wisdom of Richard's endorsement.

The story of the rise and fall of the New England independents would make a good book. Its not one that I can write. I don't have the time when I am struggling with other writing projects. The protagonists would not necessarily accept my description of them. But then I see their role in terms of the broad sweep of New England history that I am writing about.

Over the next week or so, I thought that I might bring up a few posts so that someone else might tell the story. I haven't spoken to the main protagonists about this, although I do know some of their campaign workers and certainly know the milieu from which they sprang.

So I am going to record a few jottings that might, imperfectly, give a base for someone else. It's a complicated story, for the rise of the independents was a NSW phenomenon. But only in New England did it become a political movement.      

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