Lesley Howard

Lesley Howard

Citizen Journalist at No Fibs
After shouting at the television for many years Lesley decided participation was the best antidote to cynicism. She has a keen interest in supporting sound environmental social practice, communities and democracy in action. Lesley has a Masters of Science, Applied Statistics.
Lesley Howard
Lesley graduated from the University of Melbourne with dual majors in Statistics and History and Philosophy of Science. The combination of the two fields formed a strong background in objective research, critical appraisal and the analysis of relationships, and in assessment and reporting. With this skill base she has variously consulted for an Australian timber company analysing the unloading of logs in Chinese ports, reported on the role of SMEs in Defence, critically analysed scientific papers, designed and advised on surveys and sampling for various private and government groups, and reviewed and advised on research proposals as a member of the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s MHREC. Lesley has a keen interest in supporting sound environmental social practice, communities and democracy in action. She is currently completing a Masters of Science, Applied Statistics.

Note from Lesley: I first met Kate when I joined her on a two day trip around Calare at the end of November 2020. I had just come out of a long, long Melbourne lockdown and was excited to travel beyond my 5km zone. Kate, motivated by the community momentum that saw in 2019 Indi make history and Warringah return an independent, decided to see if her electorate was similarly inspired. Many people recalled the vitality of the years when independent Peter Andren represented Calare (1996 – 2007) and there was a cautious enthusiasm to take the conversations further.

GOOD MORNING AND thank you all so much for coming. By the way you all look great in blue.

Thank you to Gerald, Mel, Grace and Rob for your endorsements. It means a lot to me as I know each one of you does so much for the community in your own lives and I thank you for that too.

Thank you to Ashley for the introduction and acknowledgement of country. I’d like to add my gratitude and respect to the Wiradjuri people, for their ongoing care and protection of this land. And I extend that to all First Nations people present and watching.

We have the most incredible opportunity to make community voices the number one priority in any political decision.

I’m thrilled and humbled to be standing here today with the backing of Voices 4 Calare and huge thanks to the whole team for the last 12 months of hard work.

I am Kate

I’m a local mum who has raised my four children on a few acres outside Orange with enough animals to keep us all busy. On many evenings I can be found running through the paddocks being followed by a collection of goats, lambs, cows and dogs.

Born and raised in the country, I moved to Sydney to study and work. After a brief stint in the UK, we decided that this buzzing and supportive community with its unique natural beauty would be the best place to raise our family. I came to this region 18 years ago and it immediately felt like home.

I’m passionate about ensuring we create the best possible future for all our children. I’m also passionate about ensuring that we have a healthy democracy where people have the power to make change and influence their own future through being included and heard and having true representation of their concerns.

I want to make sure the people of Calare are genuinely heard in Canberra and I believe we have the chance to do that this election.

Truly Representative

As I’ve been listening to people within the electorate, I’m hearing that people feel politics is not fit for purpose. It’s not getting the important things done.

I’m hearing that people feel let down by poor political representation that doesn’t represent them and their communities. I’m also hearing that people feel left out of the political process that impacts their everyday lives. There’s a growing realisation that politics is not a game. It has real and often major consequences for health and physical safety, which has people worried. They feel a sense of disconnect and they feel that even when they articulate their concerns, those are too often lost in the party room or trumped by a need for their MP to toe the party line.

As a community based independent, I’ll be free to stand up for this region of Calare and what matters most to us. I won’t have political parties and their donor interests getting in the way of what is true and what is necessary to achieve the change and progress that people of Calare want to see. I’ll be able to bring the issues of people in this electorate directly to parliament, where they should rightly be heard. This is the true meaning of a “representative” in the House of Representatives.

Many people in this electorate remember what it is like to have an independent as their representative in Canberra and remember with respect and fondness, Peter Andren. I’ve been speaking regularly with Peter’s former staff members to understand how Peter made the most of independent representation for the good of Calare, and I thank them for their support and advice and for being here today. Peter certainly set a strong example of being open to everyone in the community and thoroughly explaining his actions and decisions back to voters so that they always knew exactly where he stood and why.

If elected, I will work to hard create a strong relationship between the community and myself as the elected representative. My door will be open to everyone, regardless of political leanings which are irrelevant. As a true independent, I don’t care about your politics, I care about your wellbeing, your kids, your lives and jobs and your future.

I really want you to know who you’re voting for this time around. I will work hard to get to know you and your community by being present and making sure that I hear you. I’ll be constantly feeding back to you what I’m hearing and checking in with voters to make sure I’m getting it right.

Genuinely Consultative

To be a true representative, I don’t presume to state at the outset, what policies are best for our region, without your consultation. This is the difference a community independent can bring. I will be determining priorities for our region with your consultation, including local knowledge and expertise, not according to the wishes of political parties and their donors.

This process was started through the Voices 4 Calare project, where our team organised small group or “kitchen table” conversations in towns and villages across Calare. We got a lot of data through this project and many specific issues were raised, from everyday local issues to broader national and international ones but the overarching message form participants, no matter what the issue, was:

“We don’t feel represented. We are not being heard. We can and must do better.”

I have been continuing that process of actively listening and will do so throughout this election campaign. I will be in your communities, asking you what matters most and feeding back to the people of Calare, what the community priorities are, as they emerge and become clearer.

It’s been fantastic to have local people with expert knowledge in specific areas come forward with offers to help me understand the key issues in their areas of expertise. What’s organically forming is advisory groups, in areas like education, health, small business, farming and others. We have extraordinary expertise within our region that should be heard and I’m grateful for their interest in providing specific advice for the good of the electorate.

If I’m elected as a community independent, I will always be accountable and available to the electorate and only the electorate. My priorities will be based on what I’m hearing from the people who live here.

You will be heard because I am listening, and I will respond in a truthful and informative way. This is how we can do better.

Always truthful

I’m concerned to hear people say that they think they are not being told the truth from political leaders, and that they are scared about the future. They want honesty from their representatives and to be kept informed about the things that matter with absolute clarity and transparency.

Imagine just for a moment, that every time a politician opened their mouth to speak, what came out was truth.

  • Not marketing spin
  • Not half-truths
  • Not three-word slogans that serve to mislead

Just the actual truth.

People are telling me they believe this lack of truth and transparency is stopping the issues that matter most to them from being addressed. They believe it comes from a system where political parties are beholden to their biggest donors, putting vested interests before the real needs of people.

We can change this, by introducing more independent voices to parliament to be a breath of fresh air to a system that is stale and stuck, putting truth back on the table and making communities the centre of every decision.

Now is the time for change

If there was ever a time that was right to switch to true community representation, independent of party politics it is surely now. There is momentum across Australia to make positive change in the way we do politics, so that it works better for people and communities.
I know this is going to be tough (in fact, to be honest, I spent much of the last 12 months tapping other people on the shoulder to run……somehow it kept bouncing back to me.) I know that I’m really going to have to earn your vote, but I think it will be worth it.

An independent voice for Calare is a chance to be at the negotiation table. As we have seen in other electorates like Indi, an independent electorate can never be ignored or taken for granted.

We can do better

We can do better, we must do better, so Calare let’s do better! Let’s come together like never before to achieve genuine, authentic representation for Calare, for the wellbeing of people in our community, for our future and for our economy.

We know that thriving communities have flow-on effects. What’s good for one town or village in Calare is good for all of us. Let’s support each other and work together across the electorate for positive change because we’re all in this together. Whether you’re in Lithgow, Wellingon, Mudgee, Oberon, Canowindra or anywhere in between, we all share the same representative in Canberra. We need to make sure that works for all of our communities.

And let’s have fun! Who said that politics is necessarily boring? Getting involved in this endeavour is a great way to socialise, meet new people and have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re working to make things better. I really encourage you to get involved, don’t miss out on this.

Everywhere I visit around Calare, I sense an appetite for change, and fired-up communities that know we can make positive difference.

We can do better. You have a choice.

You can see the Twitter thread of Kate’s launch here.