New style of party politics

STREET parties, political tourism and the world’s biggest “kitchen table conversation”.

They’re some of the ideas that could be raised on how to keep the public engaged in political debate when Voice for Indi hosts its next big project for two weeks in September.

The Indi talks — first proposed as a summit — will see a series of events hosted throughout the electorate.

“There could be a music festival on in Alexandra, while there’s an agricultural forum in Wodonga,” Voice for Indi president Alana Johnson said.

“It’s a really opportune time to hold it as our local federal member (Cathy McGowan) is available then and it’s about seven weeks out from the state election.”

Five forums were held at the weekend — in Wodonga, Wangaratta, Benalla, Mansfield and Alexandra — seeking input on how the event would shape up and what should be on the agenda.

Ms Johnson said the group wanted to keep developing ways for the community to learn about politics and take action themselves.

“We’re building on the idea of participatory democracy — it’s still new for many people,” she said.

“For most, their only experience is voting.”

Ms Johnson said while the group — which played a big role in the election of Ms McGowan last year — had been quieter recently, she was confident events like the Indi talks would re-engage the public in politics.

“It’s up to us and how we branch out to determine whether momentum continues,” she said.

Among the ideas discussed were pop-up kitchen tables — to allow people who might not go out of their way to talk politics the chance to be heard — street parties, high school debates with political guests, an Indi version of Sydney’s own Festival of Dangerous Ideas and even — in the vein of an infamous 1960s festival — “Indi-stock”.

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