We Are Hughes is proud of the process for selecting our community Independent candidate, Linda Seymour. It involved hours of consultation, work and dedication with an outcome that we can all be proud of.

Much of our selection process was modelled on the very first community independent selection process in the Federal electorate of Indi, which ultimately selected their founder, Cathy McGowan. In both Indi then, and now Hughes, expressions of interest were sought from the public in order to broaden the search for a candidate. In Hughes, this included an announcement in the local paper calling for expressions of Interest on July 28th 2021 (https://www.wearehughes.org/post/local-papers-report-on-our-call-for-candidates). The call was then strengthened when a deadline for 3rd October was announced in mid September (https://www.wearehughes.org/post/candidate-expression-of-interest-closing-midnight-3rd-of-october) .

There were potential candidates who had shown initial interest in the candidacy, and We Are Hughes had been supporting them for many months, however it was increasingly clear that many were not able to fully commit, and withdrew themselves before interviews took place. Linda Seymour and another member of We Are Hughes, Anneliese Alexander, decided that it was time to listen to the many voices encouraging them to throw their hat in the ring and apply as potential candidates. Both Linda and Anneliese had ensured the support of their family and friends, and came to the point of believing that they could confidently represent the people of Hughes. Both members promptly recused themselves from the selection process in early September, prior to the final call for candidates was announced.

Once Linda and Anneliese had recused themselves, the remaining members of We Are Hughes formed the selection panel sub-committee and committed to formulating the process of selection. The panel sought advisory input from a founding member and former president of Voices for Indi. As with the Indi model, members of We Are Hughes who had “skin in the game”, having committed many hours of voluntary work for the community group, made up the members of this panel. Being a fairly new community group, as was Indi at the time of selecting Cathy McGowan, it was advised that only committee members and volunteers who had shown real commitment to the values of We Are Hughes should be involved on the selection panel process.

The panel was dedicated to considering applications from a broad range of potential candidates, and spent many hours designing a series of interview questions that would best capture the essence of the interviewee and what they stood for, along with a set of criteria that would guide them towards identifying the best possible representative for the electorate of Hughes. Questions included scenarios that an MP might potentially face, as well as responses to issues identified in Kitchen Table Conversations, and how they may conduct themselves as a federally elected MP.

As part of the process, the panel committed to a set of guiding principles and values, and held each other to account to the integrity of the process. It is important to note that although members knew each other, their connection to each other was as part of We Are Hughes alone. Thus no-one had any previous connection to each other, or any of the candidates, that would be considered a conflict. The same standard was applied to Indi’s first selection process, whose selection panel consisted of committee members from Voices for Indi alone.

Members of the panel were diverse in age, gender and professional background. The 5 person panel members were aged from 20’s to 50’s. The three male and two female panelists work in academia, public service, law, media, education and small business. They have extensive experience in the electorate as a result of childhood familiarity, education, work, family, community and social experiences. The diversity of the panel was a great example of community collaboration and inclusion, and something that We Are Hughes is proud of.

The panel selected candidates for interviews, which were conducted over two weekends via Zoom. The Selection panel members were given the opportunity to listen to each potential candidate’s pitch, as well as field responses to a series of questions and seek to discover the motivations, experience and potential of the applicant. Following lengthy discussions, three candidate’s applications were forwarded to an advisory board, comprising three individuals familiar with federal politics, the local area and the broader community independents movement. The founding member and former president of Voices for Indi was one of the members of the advisory board. They provided advisory feedback on factors such as who would be best for the job of getting elected and becoming an MP, who had demonstrated excellent community engagement, who could be best placed for the responsibility of preparing and assessing legislation, and who was most ready to take up the challenge at this time.

With the separately received independent advice from each member of the advisory board, the Selection panel deliberated at length based on the interview outcomes and advisory panel advice. The resulting decision on which candidate to endorse did not come without extensive consideration of and discussion about the potential candidates and what they each had to offer Hughes.

So while we had research of other groups’ experience and had advisory input along the way, We Are Hughes has designed its own community independent candidate selection process.

We Are Hughes is proud of the way in which its members conducted themselves during the selection process. It has been based on extensive community consultation, it was the subject of highly structured assessment of candidates and it has at all times embodied the three tenets of We Are Hughes; the process was carried out with integrity, was inclusive of the community viewpoint as well as being informed. We Are Hughes continues to value the voice of the community; it is the motivating factor that inspired the selection of the successful candidate.