web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

The silver lining of the Australian Election

Written By: - Date published: 12:23 pm, September 14th, 2013 - 11 comments
Categories: australian politics - Tags: , , ,

Cathy Mcgowan

For progressives the recent Australian election was a relative disaster.  It was not as bad as it was predicted to be, and this may explain Kevin Rudd’s rather jubilant concession speech on election night, but nevertheless Labor lost over 20 MPs from the House of Representatives and the Green vote declined.  Tony Abbott has a solid majority and as long as he can negotiate the complexities thrown up by the Senate result then he will have control of Government.

There is potentially one very good result however.  In the rural seat of Indi, a large sprawling seat comprising of mountains, valleys and small towns, there is the making of a boilover.  Liberal front bencher Sophie Mirabella is currently behind on the count and may have lost her seat to previously unknown Cathy McGowan.  The seat is historically a conservative stronghold and to lose the seat in an election where there was a conservative surge is almost unheard of.

Although not finally determined and although there is a possibility of a recount McGowan has expressed to admitting to an outbreak of hope.  She is not claiming victory yet.  The count encountered some drama when a bundle of 1,003 McGowan votes not taken into account in the initial vote were discovered.  She is currently ahead by less than a thousand.  Last election Mirabella won by over 16,000 votes after the counting of preferences.

It appears that Mirabella was not well liked and from what I have read justifiably not.  According to the Herald Mirabella had done the following:

She likened Julia Gillard to Colonel Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, saying both were “delusional”, and poked fun at Gillard’s childlessness.

She also called for Muslim girls to be banned from wearing headscarves at school. The retiring independent MP, Tony Windsor, known for his generosity of spirit, recently called Mirabella the “nastiest” person in politics, and the person he would miss least.

The likely winner, Cathy McGowan, has good liberal credentials.  She is comfortable with same-sex marriage, urges compassion for refugees and wants the creaking train service fixed.  She is however in favour of free trade and calls small business “the heart and soul of Australia”.

The campaign will obviously attract attention.  Virginia Trioli in the Western Review has provided some background.

The “Voice for Indi” independent campaign is a fascinating paradox, and may well become the playbook for any independent political candidate around the country. It was a true grassroots campaign founded on an unsentimental business model. “V for I”, as it’s known, didn’t even start life as a political quest: “We didn’t know what it was at first: a community organisation? A lobby group?,” says Susan Benedyka, founding member and managing director of the Regional Development Company.

Fed up with what they saw as Mirabella’s poor representation of their electorate, a group of 12 local figures formed an incorporated association in July last year, wrote up a set of core values and started asking the community about the issues that mattered to them. Locals told them trains, broadband, mental health, jobs for their kids were the key issues. Kitchen conversations were held in towns across the electorate. The group then took their concerns to Mirabella, who held the seat by a margin of 9 per cent.

“She gave us 11 minutes, and told us ‘No, I know my electorate, and the issues are the cost of living and stopping the boats’,” says Benedyka.

This may have been the moment that radicalised the group. They knew they had to take the seat off her. Leading community figures were approached to run, formal interviews were held and McGowan got the job. Volunteers came out of the woodwork. They had to sign and uphold the statement of core values (respect, evidence-based work only) No one was to be disrespectful or insulting of Mirabella: she was only ever referred to as the sitting member or the incumbent. As the campaign continued, some volunteers abandoned the Greens to come on board, and by voting day, volunteers numbered 600.

With only enough money for one mail drop, the campaign used community contacts, face-to-face meetings and social media – run by the younger members of the team – to reach a large and disparate community. Social media was described as “crucial” in the campaign. The team drew upon the theories of Marshall Ganz, the Harvard alumnus and pioneer of grassroots political organising, to persuade voters of a need for change.

Her use of a nationbuilder website and enhanced use of social media will attract some attention.  In my view NZ Labour could improve its handling of social media and the Cathy McGowan experience can provide some learning on the subject as well as providing a textbook example of how to handle a campaign in a conservative area.

11 comments on “The silver lining of the Australian Election”

  1. Sable 1

    This reminds me of a photo where one person refuses to salute Hitler in a sea of raised arms. Nice gesture but……

  2. tc 2

    howards liberal seat in sydney was taken by labors maxine mckew so these things happen.

    IMO its an indication of how close both parties are being centrist but candidates personalities play a bigger role, look at clive palmer as an example of the cult of personality winning through as hes effectively been spurned by the liberals.

    The election was more about a country sick of labor infighting, neither promised the serious reform needed. Labor gets its act together with some serious reformist policies and it could return next election but it needs a cleanout.

  3. burt 3

    A bit like NZ the Labour government rooted the economy simply by adding hundreds of regulations and distortions to the tax and benefit system such that …. the country is pretty much broke trying to keep the failure of a socialist government popular enough to stay in power. How surprising…

    6 years of Liberal government and the economy will be going gang-busters again… then the punters will have forgotten again how much of a failure socialism is and they will be convinced to give it just one more try for the 37th time.

    The real issue in all of this, because the flip flop of right v left is pretty much the political norm driven by dim-bulp partisans with short memories – is that the Liberal government will rape and pillage the land again. One day – perhaps in an alternate universe, the Labour and the Green party will stop trying to out promise each other offering unsustainable bribes and form a coalition…. one day….

    • mickysavage 3.1

      But Burt the Australian economy is by far the best performing economy since the global financial crisis. It did not go into recession. Its current debt level is the envy of the rest of the world.

      So where is the evidence that the Australian economy has been wrecked?

    • tc 3.2

      Funny man burt, oz has a massive amount of rules and legislation across state and federal, ask any nz business operating in oz.

      Labor and liberal are similar in policy and action, geez man try and construct a reasonably plausible position. ‘..failure of a socialist govt…’ come on try harder, we expect better from a leading troll like you.

  4. coge 4

    Sophie was her own worst enemy. It was clearly a case of the candidate, in my observation, to go against the tide so badly. Low hanging fruit perhaps.

  5. GregJ 5

    My older sister lives in this Division (Electorate or Seat) – she was in despair at the General Election Result (High School Science Teacher so with some justification) but she is holding on for a McGowan victory as at least some consolation. Even some of my sister’s Liberal (i.e.conservative) colleagues are hoping Mirabella will be defeated – she represents the most vile, racist aspects of the Right in Australia.

  6. Jenny 6

    What do you know?
    What does it tell about modern elections?
    That social media is important. (Obama also proved this)
    That ‘Social Issues’ like public transport, and inclusivity matter. That right wing appeals to exclusion and race baiting should be always responded to on principal rather opportunist accommodation. Where Rudd and Gillard, (and Clark) fell down.
    That middle class relatively well off people do not always vote right and are open to appeals based on principal, and common sense. Hone Harawira has shown this with his feed the kids campaign, which has garnered support from some unlikely even prominent previously National Party supporters.

    This gives me hope.

    All polls show that 60% of New Zealanders want the government to do more on climate change. This is an untapped constituency. It is also the policy direction on which the government is weakest. And on which some heavy blows could be landed on them. IMHO, any mainstream candidate that stands up to the big oil and coal and roading lobby and dares raise this issue in a principled way by appealing to people’s better instincts, will do well.

  7. tricledrown 7

    72%want labour green nz first housing policy!

  8. Yay! Sophie Mirabella lost.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Taxpayers not suckers when it comes to casino lemon
    The Government should not be asking New Zealanders to stump up extra cash to bail out John Key and Steven Joyce’s dodgy SkyCity convention centre deal, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. "A deal is a deal is a deal. SkyCity… ...
    4 hours ago
  • Supreme Court decision an early Christmas present
    Women on low pay in New Zealand have been given an early Christmas present with yesterday’s decision by  the Supreme Court not to intervene in a decision of the Court of Appeal, says Labour's Spokesperson for Women's Affairs, Sue Moroney. … ...
    5 hours ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    1 day ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    1 day ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    1 day ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    1 day ago
  • National’s albatross, taxpayers’ curse
    Government consideration of further corporate welfare hand-outs to SkyCity for its convention centre shows just how weak the original contract was, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says. “Taxpayers will be appalled to hear that on top of the humiliating… ...
    1 day ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    4 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    4 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    4 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    4 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    4 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    4 days ago
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    4 days ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    5 days ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    5 days ago
  • Solar homes stymied by Govt inaction
    Government inaction is allowing the big power companies to discourage the nascent solar power sector, the Green Party said today. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes launched a petition today calling on the Government to empower the Electricity Authority to act… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    5 days ago
  • Foreign buyers for iconic island must add value
    Labour will look very closely at any Overseas Investment Office application to purchase Pakatoa Island if it is not bought by a Kiwi, says Labour’s Land information Spokesperson Stuart Nash. “Pakatoa is an iconic island in the middle of Hauraki… ...
    5 days ago
  • Way opening for April Sun in Cuba
    The United States of America’s President’s historic announcement yesterday to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba should be applauded by the New Zealand Government. The announcement marks a turning point in more than five decades of hostility between the two countries… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    5 days ago
  • Minister ducking for cover over ‘Diplomat Case’
    Apparently the Ministerial Inquiry into what now seems to be being referred to as ‘The Diplomat Case’ ( I have a few other names for it) has been completed and is in front of Foreign Affairs Minister McCully. Initial Reports seem to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Energy users need answers on Vector share plans
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges needs to stop ducking for cover about whether or not the Government will support plans to nationalise and then privatise $2.1 billion of shares in the Auckland Electricity Consumer Trust, Labour's Energy spokesperson Stuart Nash says. “It… ...
    6 days ago
  • Turning up the heat on working conditions
    A “Jobs That Count” campaign has the full support of Labour, the party’s Labour Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. Organised by the Meat Workers Union, the campaign aims to put the spotlight on job insecurity in the meat processing industry. ...
    6 days ago
  • Biosecurity it’s everyone’s responsibility
    Biosecurity costs New Zealand millions of dollars in attempting pest eradication and much more in ongoing management of pests in farming, horticulture, beekeeping and conservation, as well as in our own backyards and recreation areas. More work must happen at… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    6 days ago
  • Is the Health Minister accountable to the public? He doesn’t seem to thin...
    Lately I’ve been involved in a sort of farcical standoff with the Health Minister, who seems to be under the illusion that I have no right to ask questions about conflicts involving Health Promotion Agency Board member Katherine Rich, and… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    1 week ago
  • Irresponsible tax cuts lead to seventh successive deficit
    National's borrowing to pay for cutting the top tax rate was irresponsible and will likely lead to a seventh successive deficit, the Green Party said today. Treasury have forecast a $572 million deficit this year in its Half Year Economic… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    1 week ago
  • Heartfelt sympathy for Sydneysiders
    The Labour Party has offered its heartfelt sympathy to the people of Sydney after the hostage situation in the city, says Labour’s Acting leader Grant Robertson.  “Our thoughts are with all those who went through this horrific and traumatic experience. ...
    1 week ago
  • Farewell at Phillipstown
    Last Wednesday, I attended the farewell for Tony Simpson, Principal of Phillipstown School. It was a very emotional event where many of us in the large crowd shed tears. Bagpipes and tiny tamariki performing kapahaka brought the house down and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • The CIA Torture Report
    Earlier this week, the United States Select Committee on Intelligence released the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.  The report, which was five years in the making, looked into the CIA’s interrogation techniques from 2001… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Haere Rā 2014
    We’ve almost reached the end of the Parliamentary year so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of my highlights of the term in this blog post. It’s been an absolutely hectic year juggling an election campaign… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • A welfare system for the 21st Century
    Today Child Poverty Action Group released a background paper on ‘The complexities of ‘relationship’ in the welfare system and the consequences for children.‘ The report includes 16 recommendations to modernise our welfare system which is no longer fit for the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere