Monday, August 23, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Never Ending Election Campaign

Gillard and Abbott: all talk, no policies.
I don’t know about you – but I’m officially over the Australian Federal Election campaign. Just get us a Prime Minster already. It’s not that I don’t respect our democratic process, in fact, I love it. I’ve just had enough. So in an effort to wrap up the election that seems like it will never end…I’ve compiled my own list of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

I will spare you all the ‘hung’ Parliament puns, which have been done to death in the past few days. And I’ve tried to keep the list a little balanced, but you might notice the Bad and the Ugly columns are pretty full. I think that pretty much sums up this election as a whole....

The Good

Social media emerges as a major player. This really was the first election where people (and not just journalists) engaged in debate and expression over the election campaign through social media like Twitter and Facebook. We even saw a couple of the major TV networks attempt to use a Twitter feed to broadcast public opinion during debates. It didn’t quite work – but it was a sure sign social media is here to stay. Never before have we seen an election where you could tweet Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) and tell her exactly what you thought. Sure, one of her press secs may have read it – but apparently she did start writing her own Tweets and even using hash tags (# topic identifiers) towards the end of the campaign. Labor seemed to get the message on social media and its importance by the end of the campaign - but the Coalition didn't get there at all. Tony Abbott didn't join the Twitterverse and obviously the party didn't see it as an important way to reach voters. The Coalition clearly need to move out of the dark ages.

Wyatt Roy the young gun. The 20-year-old has all but won the seat of Longman north of Brisbane; postal votes are still to be counted but Wyatt pretty much has it in the bag. I know he’s young and people will argue that he’s too young, no life experience, blah blah. But maybe the Australian Parliament could use some young positive naivety from a Gen Y-er. You go Wyatt. Just ignore the haters.

Wilson Tuckey is out. The maverick West Australian MP has made some appalling contributions to Australian political life during his time, but thankfully, we won’t have to listen to him anymore. He’s been accused of being acutely racist and even resorted once to calling Kim Beazley a ‘fat so and so’ whilst having a debate about an immigration issue. The fact that he lost his seat shows that all is not lost for a positive, progressive Australia. Great job WA voters.

A Greens candidate wins the seat of Melbourne. The Greens will no longer be referred to as ‘the party you waste a vote on’. The win by former lawyer Adam Bandt sends a warning shot to the major parties. The Greens are now (and some will argue were already) a real alternative to the major parties and can no longer be pigeon-holed as lefty greenies who don’t win seats.

The Bad

The ‘Real’ Julia. This was not a great choice of strategy for Labor. They clearly saw that the election campaign was not moving in their direction and that the media and public were sick of the spin. Julia’s attempt to free herself from this simply confused people and raised the question, who was she being for the first couple of weeks of the campaign when she wasn’t the 'Real Julia’? In her attempt to be the ‘real’ Julia we got ‘More of the Same Julia', and given the result (or lack of) at the polls in Saturday, neither were up to scratch for voters.

The debate about the debate. The back and forth between Tony and Julia on how many debates to have, when to have them and what to debate about became farcical towards the end of the campaign. Will someone just lock the pollies into debates and topics and end the pain for us all? I’d rather read stories about what their policies are, than how many debates we need to have and what they will or won’t be about. And it’s not the political journos’ fault. They are reporting on what’s going on day to day on the campaign trail – and if that sort of tripe is dominating the day, in the place of real policies, then we all lose. However, I think that with this election campaign, no matter what the trivial distractions were, we were never really going to see any real, solid policies.

The first hung Parliament in about 70 years. This is bad, if only because we don’t have a resolution yet. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is exhausted by the length of this election campaign. I know it shows democracy at work, and for that reason in itself it’s a great thing, but it will affect a lot more things than who is PM. It has the potential to affect economic stability. Confidence in our economy may suffer due to uncertainty about policy decisions. And it’s very likely that even if a minority government is formed, we could be sent to the polls again very soon (within the normal 3 or so years). It’s a pretty unstable situation.

Julia having a coffee with her partner Tim at a café post election night. Those poor defenceless locals who might have wanted a quiet breakfast were joined by Julia and 50 members of the media the day after the election failed to yield a result. And she wouldn’t take serious questions from journos about the hung Parliament possibility.

Bob Katter. Is anyone else worried about what comes out of this bloke’s mouth? I am. He seems a bit of a worry as an independent MP. His policies suffer from tunnel vision and sound extreme at best. I will admit I don’t know his policies inside out – but I’m not sure anyone does. All he natters on about is the collapse of rural Australia. I get that he’s trying to be a voice for ‘Rural Australia’, but I haven’t heard any sense from him yet. He speaks in country clichés that make me cringe. I grew up in rural Australia and I think he’s really insulting the intelligence of rural Australians, especially those in his north-western Queensland electorate.

The Ugly

Former Labor Leader Mark Latham reporting for 60 Minutes. ‘Nuff said.

The Labor blame game. Maxine McKew lost the seat of Bennelong and took a swipe at Labor, making reference to the leadership change which ousted Kevin Rudd. Apparently the leaks also killed Labor’s credibility, Anna Bligh was blamed for the bad performance of Federal Labor in Queensland and former NSW Premier Morris Iemma got in on the act today, claiming the campaign bosses are to blame. How about Labor didn’t run a clear and concise campaign focusing on their policies? Could that maybe have something to do with it? The Coalition didn't really either for that matter.

Family First Senate candidate Wendy Francis. We don’t need a small minded, archaic point of view in our Senate. This woman made some extremely reprehensible comments about gay couples and their children on Twitter during the election campaign. I’m not even going to repeat them here as a matter of principle, but you can have a read here  if you like. Family First as a political party alarms me, but this woman takes the cake.

Tony Abbott refuses to sleep. Tony went without sleep for about 36 hours in the lead up to Election Day. Apparently this was his effort to show the Australian people how serious he was about getting the top job. How ridiculous. Is this the example we want a potential PM to set? I prefer my leaders well rested, so they can make sensible, rational decisions thank you very much. I hope this doesn’t set a precedent for future election campaigns – 16 hours a day of election coverage is enough for me!

KRudd’s bile makes headlines. Leadership spills aside, I felt a bit sorry for KRudd on this one. I would never wish surgery on him, but you have to admit, the irony of his gall bladder problems and the subsequent bile references were election gold. He then made intermittent appearances to campaign but gave Julia a few backhanders about having to ‘save the nation’ from Tony Abbott. You can’t make up that sort of stuff!

Need to vent about the never ending election? Vent away below!


  1. Could not agree more about being over this election Kirsty! Great post - you are a brave blogger to take on this campaign :)

  2. With all the ridiculous wishy-washiness that's happening at the moment post-election, I would like to add to the good column that both Wilson Tuckey and Steve Fielding are goneski!

  3. Wilson Tuckey's ousting is already in the "Good" column.

    I love that 3 men whom a tiny proportion of our country voted for, are now telling us that they won't decide our government until at least next week. The hell.