VOICE for Indi has ruled out endorsing any candidates in the Victorian election.
But the community group will not be absent during the campaign and plans to host a series of candidate forums.
Voice for Indi president Alana Johnson made the comments on Saturday, outside a forum at The Cube in Wodonga — one of five meetings held across the electorate at the weekend.
Ms Johnson said the group’s role, now and into the future, would be to act as “a conduit” between the region’s constituents and politicians.
She said the group would be active during the state election campaign in telling candidates what the public’s main concerns were on a state level — based on the discussions at their forums and “kitchen table conversations” — but would not put forward or endorse any candidate.
There had been much speculation that, following independent MP Cathy McGowan’s grassroots campaign last year in which Voice for Indi played an active role, the group would field state candidates.
Ms McGowan’s campaign was a runaway success due to, according to some commentators, a perfect storm of circumstances: dissatisfaction with the sitting member, the “right” alternative, and a huge groundswell of interest from a previously disengaged community.
Asked if she believed the success of the federal election could be repeated on a state level, Ms Johnson said “no”.
“I don’t think so, the ingredients aren’t there,” she said.
She said by hosting a forum, however, they could put the state issues “that really count” to candidates and push them on how they would act.
“It will be interesting to see which candidates and which parties learnt from Indi in terms of connecting with people,” she said.
“And from (Liberal MP) Sharman Stone’s recent decision (to not side with the federal government on SPC) to be the voice of the people not the voice of the party.”
She said Voice for Indi would remain non-partisan: “We’re purely facilitating the process for people to put forward their views in a constructive way.”
They would ensure they were distinct from the federal member, she said.
The group is soon to launch its rebranding, with a new logo and colour scheme — orange clearly having become the domain of Ms McGowan.