Daisy Winney

Daisy Winney

Daisy is a fourth-year student journalist studying communication and creative intelligence and innovation at the University of Technology Sydney. Daisy has a passion for using multimedia to create stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Daisy Winney

DOGS AND PURPLE koalas were the icebreaker for conversations at Linda Seymour’s series of ‘Politics Has Gone to the Dogs’ events. This weekend community endorsed independent candidate for Hughes went on a treat-filled tour of her electorate’s dog friendly parks, wrapping it up with a meet up at Kirrawee’s Helena Street Dog Park on Sunday.

While the dogs were going crazy for treats, their owners were finding common ground on Australia’s political landscape. Voters from all ends of the political spectrum were engaging with Linda, from those who refrain from discussing politics to those with voters’ regret.

While these diverse-voting Hughes residents were happy to share their thoughts with me, they wished to remain anonymous.

Linda Seymour wants to get Hughes out of the political dog house (Photo: Daisy Winney)

Common ground with a staunch Liberal voter

With her purple Vote #1 Linda Seymour shirt grabbing the attention of onlookers, Linda found herself in conversation with a staunch Liberal voter. Despite his commitment to voting the way he always has, the local resident was happy to discuss his views in a different light.

“The biggest thing to me is economics and that is why I will vote Liberal everyday of the week”, he shared.

To this, Linda asked whether he would ever consider voting independent if the right candidate appealed to him. 

“I would go Liberal every time… but at the end of the day you [independents] can hold them accountable,” he said.

“I think the word independent has so much strength because I agree, the transparency, the mistrust, that is why you are getting that gravitational pull.”

A staunch Liberal voter

Despite the differences, this Liberal voter’s passion for economics was the common ground between the pair, with Linda acknowledging the progress made when different views are pushed aside for the greater good.

“Look at recent times, like the economics of the pandemic where they all put ideology aside and said ‘this is too serious we have to work together’, and they did and it was amazing. If they can talk about those principles together that is a far stronger state,” Linda said.

“They had to work together and I don’t think they could have done anything else,” he agreed.

This conversation shows the mutual understanding that arises from simple conversations. Although not open to voting independent, the Liberal voter who did not wish to be named agreed with the importance Linda places on environmental protection, linking it back to his focus on economics.

“They can work together, economic prosperity and the environment, as long as economic prosperity puts back into the environment,” he said.

A shared hope for honesty

For another dog park visitor, a hesitancy to speak about politics, saying “I don’t really follow it”, turned into a conversation about honesty and a need for increased accountability.

The hesitant voter and Linda agreed on a need for politicians to admit they are wrong if a mistake is made.

“If I make a mistake on a job and I say to the client ‘I have stuffed up I have made a mistake’… and if you don’t make the same mistake twice, they respect you for putting your hand up and pay you to fix it.”

A hesitant voter

To which Linda replied, “Accountability. It is just really basic stuff.”

Conversations with a regretful voter

One dog owner could not agree more that ‘Politics Has Gone to the Dogs’, now regretful of the fact that she campaigned for Craig Kelly ahead of the last federal election. She shared:

“I have campaigners regret… I would never vote for him again.”

A regretful Craig Kelly voter

Originally, the local resident believed her views aligned with Craig Kelly. But now, after Hughes’ current Member for Parliament’s spout of conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination sentiment, she has become disillusioned.

“He has changed. Originally I agreed with him on his climate action, his original ideas. But now the way he’s gone, being an anti-vaxxer, I am really really disgusted with that.”

After a discussion with Linda about her campaign and what she stands for as an independent, the former Craig Kelly voter shared the possibility of her voting differently next time.

“I am open to independents,” she concluded.

Humans and dogs of Hughes (Photo: Daisy Winney)

The insights gained from these conversations, along with many others had at the ‘Politics Has Gone to the Dogs’ events has reinforced to Linda that there is growing support for the community independent movement.

“There is good potential for independents to hold the balance of power,” Linda said.