In news that took people by surprise, Member for Mildura, Ali Cupper, right, announced late last week that she was cutting ties with the Reason Party, ending the short-lived coalition she had formed with Fiona Patten, left, barely six months ago.
At the time, it was hailed as a ‘new coalition of independent women’ and a move that was sure to change the way politics is done in Victoria.
“This is about super- charging an already winning formula and giving our respective electorates the best of both worlds,” Ms Cupper said at the time.
This week, Ms Cupper told the ‘Weekly, that while making the decision to move away from the Reason Party, she was nonetheless proud of the “gutsy move” she made to “maximise the strategic leverage” for her electorate.
“I was elected to the Parliament at a time when Labor had one of its biggest majorities in history. And while I wasn’t without a negotiating ability, and wasn’t achieving good things on the investment front, I also wanted to have a place at the policy table, primarily because I knew how important regional rate reform was for us,” she said.
Ms Cupper said that it became obvious that to achieve that, she needed a strategic alliance with someone with influence in the Upper House.
“I wanted to align with an MP who the Government often needed to get legislation through the Parliament,” she said.
“This wasn’t about trying to force the Government’s hand, but rather, to be able to leverage the skills of someone who was a proven performer in terms of policy negotiation in the Victorian Parliament, and that was Fiona Patten.”
Ms Cupper said that the element she didn’t anticipate, was the extent to which it would make her a target.
“I didn’t think it would see me pulled into the ‘net’ of party political games,” she said.
“And that’s where I drew the line. I still believe that it’s unfair that the actions of an individual staffer in the office of a party that I didn’t join, that I should be being blamed for something they did without my authorisation.
“I was in strategic coalition with Fiona, I wasn’t a member of the Reason Party.
“But in the end, I was being asked to answer for the actions of other people who I had no control over. I wasn’t prepared to do that for 18 months − for anyone or anything.”
Ms Cupper was referencing the actions of a staffer in Fiona Patten’s office who allegedly went off on a frolic-of-their-own and obtained the unsecured domain names of some National Party Members of Parliament’s websites, with the view to giving them a ‘taste of their own medicine’.
“The Nationals got very upset at this, and although it was okay for them to be doing it, no one should do it to them, and so they pinned the blame on me,” she said.
“There is a limit to the sort of treatment that I am willing to endure and the treatment that I am willing to expose my team and my family to and so I made the decision to leave the coalition.
“That coalition was about maximising the benefit for our community and so, as soon as it started to cost our community, and cost me in terms of my reputation and my values, I left.”