A COMMUNITY HALL filled with local residents, campaigners and dogs might not be the most conventional setting for a political event, but for community-endorsed independent candidate for Hughes Linda Seymour, it’s the perfect scene.
On December 12, Linda, backed by the We Are Hughes community group, invited people and their pets to Jannali Community Hall for the first of their series of ‘Big Conversation’ events. Attendees were welcome to engage with each other and Linda to discuss what effective political representation looks like to them.
Building community trust
Residents of the Hughes electorate have become increasingly disillusioned by the political representation they are receiving since their current federal member Craig Kelly publicly announced his tendency for climate change denial in early 2020.
Since then, Kelly’s controversial views against the COVID-19 vaccinations and lockdowns have only increased this gap of distrust.
For Linda, restoring this trust and a sense of community is key to her campaign. Leading the attendees of the Big Conversation to take part in a series of discussions, Linda instructed the community to break into smaller groups to discuss what issues they wish to see acknowledged by a future federal member.
When reporting back to the larger group, the trends amongst all conversations were clear – action on climate change, a federal integrity commission, and collaboration with underrepresented groups to name a few. Again, it is clear that Kelly’s views are not representative of the majority of his constituents.
Responding to the concerns of the group, Linda ensured that the values of We Are Hughes and the wider community would be carried forward into her campaign.
“The ethos of We Are Hughes is integrity… and I have a deep sense of fairness,” she said.
A need for engagement
Engaging with a local diversity officer, Linda made it her priority to speak with the Sutherland Reconciliation Centre prior to the Big Conversation.
While this is a start, Linda told the attendees that she needs the help and support of the Hughes community to expand upon these community connections.
“I am very much drawing from expertise in the community, from you all,” Linda said.
Politics can be positive
Campaign manager Anneliese Alexander told the group she wants all supporters of Linda to remain positive at all times.
“Our core value is to be positive,” she said.
The other important values surround being invitational and curious. The invitational nature of Linda’s campaign extends to anyone who is interested in assisting the team ahead of the upcoming federal election.
“Is there something that you can do?” Anneliese said.
Gone to the dogs
Local resident Helma Mulhall took to the Big Conversation event to demonstrate that this ‘something’ could be as simple as getting your dog to wear a ‘Linda Seymour’ bandana. The original was modelled by Stitch, Helma’s proclaimed ‘political animal’.
We Are Hughes, and Linda, welcome all dog owners to purchase a bandana and join Stitch on January 2, 2022 for their ‘Politics Has Gone to the Dogs’ event at Como Dog Park.