2016 Campaign, post election musings Coffs Harbour Branch
Due to the changed boundaries this election we had half our members living in and working for Page and the other half living in and working for Cowper.
Those of us in the Page end were full of promise and optimistic of getting a win, as we had a known candidate and renowned achiever and hard working ex-member in Janelle Saffin running in the seat. It was generally felt that it would be close but that we could get a win, hence a lot of resources were put into the seat and many volunteer hours.
For our members that worked on the Page campaign the loss by just 1% was a bitter disappointment and an heartfelt loss to loose such a wonderful candidate as Janelle.
Then on the Cowper side of the campaign we were delighted to have a young enthusiastic candidate and had high hopes, at the same time knowing we had to work hard to get Damian known across a large electorate in a short time as well as conducting åmdraisers to raise the money to run a campaign. Cowper not being a seat supported by head office all the heavy lifting falls on the shoulders of our hard working members. There was some frustrations at times as Damian was restricted by work commitments however we all including Daman worked hard to get his name into the public domain.
We then got the surprise of Rob Oakeshott running in Cowper and were hopeful this might just shine a light on the electorate and split the vote enough that with good preferencing Damian or Oakeshott may just topple the incumbent Luke Hartsuyker.
This was another disappointment for members when it was realised that Oakeshott took Labor and Greens votes and not enough of the Nationals. In the end of a long hard campaign most of our members were simply exhausted from long days working on a three week long pre-poll followed by many hours on polling day without a break for a lot of us and this takes a toll on our bodies with most of us being seniors.
I believe we were all disappointed with the conservative desert that is the NSW North Coast.
The members of Macleay Valley branch experienced a very busy three week pre poll. The number of voters at pre poll was greater than previous years and far more than the A.E.C Officials expected. The choice of venue by the A.E.C., i.e. Centre Point Plaza, was not ideal, creating difficulties for those handing out how to vote paperwork (other than the Nationals) and voters alike.
Local shop owners voiced their displeasure, moved core flutes in the Plaza and requested people wearing Party Political t shirts, visible through their shop windows, to move out of eye sight as they found them offensive.
The Nationals ran the most negative and dirtiest campaign ever experienced. They were there in force out numbering all others by at least 4 to 1.
In a discussion with the Chairman of the Nationals Party, Kempsey Branch, regarding the tactics being used, e.g. the presentation of a very nasty, unauthorised core flute into the Plaza, and destruction of core flutes, produced the response “ Yes and it will only get worse in future elections”, something we must keep in mind when preparing for future elections including the upcoming Local Government elections in September.
There were some lighter moments; one Labor voter, asked for an explanation on how to fill in his voting papers to ensure they were correct and his vote counted. The voter entered the Polling Place after being given his voting papers immediately ran out the door with them, requesting we “clarify” how to vote Labor, once again; officials in a panic, from inside the Polling Place surrounded him, but understanding and common sense soon kicked in when he explained he could not read or write. The Officials decided it would be better if someone assisted him to complete his voting papers. The changes in the Senate paper added further to the confusion.
Illiteracy is an issue we should keep in mind at future elections particularly if an electronic voting system is introduced. The situation arose again on July 2nd, Polling Day, with the queue of voters, reaching from Kempsey High Hall entry door, the Polling Place, to the school gate, a young woman wanting to vote Labor, asked if I would assist her to ensure her vote was valid, as she could only spell her name, but was unable to read or write, being the only person handing out for Labor created a degree of difficulty.
Two enterprising students from Kempsey High organised a sausage sizzle on the day, with drinks and cakes and made more than $850.00 for their school.
During the campaign Macleay Valley Branch suffered the loss of long term and much loved member Susanna Gailey. Susanna, was known for her delightful cooking, her love of the Australian bush and her work with the bush care group at Arakoon, who have now dedicated a weekend in her honour. A courageous and ardent supporter of Labor, Susanna realised her life was near the end and requested her daughter arrange a postal vote, to ensure she cast her vote for Labor. Susanna Gailey was buried at Arakoon Cemetery on July 1st and will be sadly missed by all our members.
Although Cowper remains in National Party hands, I believe Rob Oakeshott, putting his hand up as a candidate, so late, was not beneficial to our campaign, taking votes from all other candidates and placing our candidate after the Nationals Luke Hartsuyker.
Labor may not have won the election; however we can look at the positives of the result.
PM Malcolm Turnbull in calling an unnecessary Double Dissolution election has done himself and the Coalition no favours,
He has no mandate
A very diverse and possible hostile senate
The power being shared by minor parties like Nick Xenaphon and Pauling Hanson
The promise of a very expensive, non binding , non compulsory Plebiscite, now looking like a promise that may not be kept
Budget problems (of their own creation) from the start.
The next three years of Federal Parliament will prove extremely interesting, enjoy the ride.
Bellinger River Branch
After much strategic planning, my son and I tied corflutes on trees in prominent positions in and around Urunga (they were very secure, tied at the top and bottom as it had been windy). The very next day, they had all disappeared.
I then put some notices up and the very next day, they had all disappeared. *so looks like we will have to go undercover and stakeout overnight in future
On election day, Diane, Gordon and I handed out pamphlets at the Urunga booth.
When I arrived at the Urunga booth at 7.10 am, the Nats were already there and had many, many signs around town and particularly at the voting booth. They had taken all the best positions, however, my son was with me and he is tall which was handy as we managed to obscure a few by accident. They had a stand which was actually in the way of what is supposed to be ‘no obstruction to the polling booth’. I had this moved once by mentioning this to the person in charge of the booth. However, they managed to keep moving this back. When I went to see the person in charge he was always busy so I left it. In future I would deal with this prior to the booth opening with the person in charge. Also, in hindsight, I should have managed to trip on this stand…
Interesting dynamics, as usual, the Nats person sat outside the fence and the Greens, Oakeshott supporters and the fabulous Labor people were all near each other and we were all quite friendly.
The man handing out for Oakeshott (lucky he was not an aggressive person) received constant abuse. The comments and language were disgusting and this of course, from obvious Nats voters.
Melinda Pavey was there for most of the afternoon, with both of us scrutineering. The Nats obviously thought Oakeshott would take their votes but unfortunately, they took Labor votes. *Oakeshott handouts at Urunga gave us preference No 5 and Nats, lst preference.
I guess we have some lessons to learn. Was it the way Oakeshott ran his campaign; does he present himself and his information in a particular way; why people find him a good alternative? (besides just wanting to get rid of the Nats).