It is with sadness that I announce that I am resigning from the NSW National Party, effective immediately and will sit in the Australian Parliament as an independent.
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I grew up handing out how to votes for the National Party, and I have given it some of the best years of my working life. I was once a true believer but I'm not anymore. The National Party of today is very different to the one of my youth.
I feel that I can best represent the constituents of Calare and our region by speaking out on issues, free from party constraints and expectations.
The recent decision by the National Party to oppose the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, and also witnessing the devastation our region has experienced over the past few weeks, has really brought home to me the importance of being able to stand up and be counted.
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I can't reconcile the fact that every Australian will get a free vote on the vitally important issue of the Voice, yet National Party MPs are expected to fall into line behind a party position that I fundamentally disagree with, and vote accordingly in Parliament. While I respect the views of my colleagues, this just isn't right.
I didn't bring on the debate within the Nationals over the Voice or the press conference that followed.
However in the days after stating my own position of support for the Voice, I felt that I didn't have the unfettered freedom to speak that I needed. As the discussion on this issue around Australia builds, I want that freedom to put forward my point of view as I don't foresee the Nationals' policy on the Voice changing.
Our region has recently been hit by disasters in the form of storms, floods and also a gas crisis that affected 20,000 residents, households and businesses.
Part of the role of being a Member of Parliament is advocating and fighting for the communities we represent. When I believe that our communities are not receiving the support they need at the speed at which they need it, I have to speak out. I can do that most effectively free of the ties of a political party.
Now more than ever the communities of our region need their MP in their corner advocating for that support, no matter the political stripe of the state or federal government.
While I accept that in politics compromises have to be made, there comes a point where not speaking out freely can compromise the interests of those we represent.
This has been a difficult decision for me. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and hope they will understand why I had to take this step.
I wish David Littleproud as Leader of the Nationals well. He's a good man and he has my respect. This issue unfortunately runs deeper than the role of just one person.
I will continue the vitally important work of securing the bright future of our region.
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