Independent candidate for the North Shore, Carolyn Corrigan (centre, blue dress).
A staunch anti-council merger campaigner will take on the Liberals at the North Shore by-election on April 8 in an attempt to repeat the shock upset at November’s Orange by-election, when the Nationals lost a safe seat.
Carolyn Corrigan, a Mosman councillor and past President of anti-council merger community group Save Our Councils Coalition, will stand as an independent candidate in former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s seat following the veteran MP’s resignation last month.
Ms Skinner quit in an apparent dummy spit over losing her Health portfolio to Brad Hazzard in NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s mini Cabinet reshuffle in January.
Ms Corrigan has begun an intensive campaign to topple the Liberals and says the reactions she has been getting on the campaign trail have convinced her that her mission is possible and that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian should be worried.
“I couldn’t tell you the number of people who say: ‘I’ve voted Liberal all my life. I’m not voting Liberal this time’,” Ms Corrigan says.
“There’s a palpable anger in this community because I think they feel they have been taken for granted.
“They should be scared,” she adds.
Ms Corrigan says she only decided to run after support for her swelled and no other independent candidates had come forward.
“It’s going to be such a short, quick campaign and I haven’t even got a Liberal candidate that I know of.
“Five [Liberal] candidates are running. It’s all caught up in the party factions at this stage, as I understand.”
The Liberal candidates believed to be in the running are: Tim James, Jessica Keen, Anna McPhee, Felicity Wilson and Ted Wziontek. Labor will not be fielding a candidate.
Meanwhile, the state government is once again trotting out plans for a tunnel under Mosman to ease the gridlock in a sign that it is nervous about the outcome of the North Shore by-election, despite its reputation as a blue-ribbon Liberal area.
Ms Corrigan says council mergers is ‘still a hot button issue’ for voters but points out that it is only one of many, including the potential B-Line bus, which she opposes because she believes the upheaval outweighs the benefits, the Mosman tunnel (she’s a fan) and overcrowded local schools.
The North Shore electorate she is battling for covers the local government areas of Mosman, Lane Cove and North Sydney. It has become a tinderbox of late as the NSW government continues to fight court cases in an effort to forcibly merge Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby Councils and Lane Cove, Hunters Hill and Ryde Councils.
Although Ms Skinner has held the seat since 1994 the North Shore does have a history of voting independent.
Towering political figure, independent Ted Mack held the seat from 1981 to 1988 and Robyn Read held it from 1988 to 1991, after defeating Ms Skinner.
Ms Corrigan says Ms Berejiklian herself has acknowledged that politics is changing and this could favour an independent candidate.
“There’s tremendous voter apathy and cynicism and I think that [voters will support] a true independent candidate – not a dummy one – who will just look at the issues and when they vote, rather than the way the party tells them to vote,” Ms Corrigan says.
Ms Corrigan, who works as a nurse in the specialist clinical areas of pulmonary hypertension and heart and lung transplantation at St Vincent’s Hospital, is hoping to bring the independents back again to the North Shore. She might just do it.
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