TWO independent candidates for the Upper Hunter by-election on May 22 have joined forces, agreeing to preference each other first ahead of the major parties.
Like-minded candidates Kirsty O'Connell and Tracy Norman announced their plans to cross preference at the Muswellbrook Hospital, where they jointly called for mining royalties to be put towards healthcare in the region.
Ms Norman said the pair are aligned on most issues that are in play in this by-election and particularly on the value of putting an independent MP into parliament.
Mrs O'Connell agreed and said no matter how people choose to vote in this by-election, the government "won't change".
"But by voting for an independent like myself or Tracy, voters of the Upper Hunter can choose to give themselves the balance of power in the NSW parliament until the March 2023 election. That's really empowering for our community".
Mrs O'Connell and Ms Norman, whilst maintaining their individual campaigns, will work together to promote the opportunity that presents itself at this very important by-election.
"I am going all out to win this by-election however, if it's not me then I would be happy for Tracy to win and then work with her to deliver better outcomes than can be delivered by the major parties," Mrs O'Connell said.
"We both agree that the Upper Hunter electorate is at a critical tipping point and that with such significant changes happening globally, we can't afford to wait another decade to develop a comprehensive plan for our future.
"It's time to protect all livelihoods, our communities and environment. It's time for the people of this electorate to have the services that we should expect in 2021. Let's not content ourselves with the same tired old promises of bypasses that should have been delivered years ago or police stations that are long overdue. We generate more than $1 billion for the State every year. Let's choose to have those things and more."
Ms Norman added: "We suffer all of the downsides of heavy extractive industries in the Upper Hunter and yet do not reap the benefits comparable with our input to the government coffers. We should expect first rate hospitals, educational facilities and infrastructure to support our community. With the government in minority, an independent can deliver these benefits to the electorate."