The success of independents across the nation and the rejection of the two party system in the recent federal election has inspired Voices For Mallee to push for more responsive representation in the Mallee electorate.
According to Voices For Mallee board member Katherine Hollaway, voters are being taken for granted because the federal division of Mallee is a safe Nationals seat for more than 70 years.
"A safe seat clearly means you are not a prime concern for parties while they are looking to attract votes in more marginal seats," she said.
Spurred by the 2022 federal election, Voices For Mallee has already started work to 'Make Mallee Matter' in the next federal election, which may not happen until May 2025.
Voices For Mallee is not aligned with any political party and it's platform is purely derived from Kitchen Table Conversations with constituents.
"We write down the ideas and concerns from each individual and these conversations are collated with other conversations across the Mallee," Ms Hollaway said.
Prior to election, a report about what voters expect from representatives is delivered to all candidates and this was done for the recent election.
This process has been highly successful in other electorates such as Indi which elected the highly-regarded Helen Haines for another term.
The Voices For Indi process is now famous in Australian political history with Cathy McGowan emerging as its first successful candidate.
"It's the best form of democracy I've ever seen with integrity at its heart," Ms Hollaway said.
Speaking with Australian Community Media, Ms McGowan said rural independents were "one of the hidden stories of the whole election".
"To actually get a person over the line is a big ask (Rob Priestly, in the Victorian seat of Nicholls), but to get such a swing in these seats is a huge result," Ms McGowan said.
"I'm not sure what message is there in all this, but there is a message there. Maybe it's that the National Party has absolutely failed at representing the regions."
Australian National University political science emeritus professor John Warhurst said there was plenty of overlap between the teal and Voices For movements, and both would generate more energy during the next election cycle.
"They won't go away and it's quite a thing to make these seats more marginal," Prof Warhurst said.
"It shows how those independents could do what Labor could never do in these [rural] seats."
However, Ms McGowan was reluctant to forecast the future success of rural independents.
"A lot of it had to do with the failure of the government," she said.
"If this new government starts delivering, the want and desire to vote for an independent might not be as strong."
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