There is a limit to what change Jenny O’Connor has been able to achieve as Indigo mayor over the past two years; now she wants to move into state politics to finish the job.
In officially launching her campaign for the seat of Benambra on Thursday, she said her decision to run was cemented by a desire to stop groundwater in Stanley being extracted for bottled water.
“We want to stop the groundwater that’s needed for agriculture being put in plastic bottles and being trucked off either interstate or overseas. It’s a terrible use of our water,” she said.
For that to happen, the Victorian water act needs to change.
Cr O’Connor said there was “absolutely” a lack of action on this issue from the Labor Victorian government and incumbent Liberal MP Bill Tilley.
“In that role (as Indigo mayor) it’s become more and more apparent to me that to get the infrastructure and the funding that we need for services, for our schools, for our roads, to grow our businesses, we need to not be a safe seat anymore. I’m seeing money flow to other regional centres like Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong,” she said.
“I’m an alternative to business as usual that’s been going on in a safe seat.
“Bill Tilley has been the member here for 12 years, I think it’s time for change and that’s the message I’m hearing from the community.”
Cr O’Connor ran for Benambra in 2010 as a Greens candidate, but left the party two years ago when she became mayor.
“I’m pretty fed up with party politics, I think politicians should be representing their communities, not caught up with the antics that are going on within the party,” she said.
She said it was great to have two female independent candidates running for the seat, with fellow independent Jacqui Hawkins, but pointed to her experience as a councillor of six years.
“I’ve worked really hard for my communities in a leadership role,” she said.
“I’m standing on my record as an experienced community leader and as an experienced politician.”
Denis Ginnivan, the president of political group Voices for Indi which helped Cathy McGowan get elected as an independent in Indi in 2013, said he was supporting Cr O’Connor’s campaign launch because he wanted to see more candidates standing.
“There’s a lot of people who are really keen to see this competition and contest in this seat for the future,” he said.
“There’s quite an interest in independents standing and people can see the benefit and see what can be achieved.”
A new Indigo mayor will be elected on October 30 and Cr O’Connor will stand down from her role as councillor from October 31 until the election on November 24.
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