As a Labor Party member, interested in Labor's great plan for equality, it's hard to reconcile that Malcom Turnbull, went to the polls with the biggest dog of a policy in living memory, the $50 billion tax cut for the big end of town and that his task for succeeding with this was made easier by a compliant mainstream media.
According to Media Watch, ABC July 4, 2016 “Just about all the mainstream media urged their readers to vote for Malcom, with only one out of 17 mastheads, Melbourne’s Sunday Age, advocating a vote for Labor and suggesting
….Mr Shorten deserves the chance to govern” Sunday Age, 26 June, 2016
According to Media Watch, “The public ignored them... demonstrating once again that the mainstream media have far less power than they would like us to believe.”
Labor's own Labor Herald using the social media tracking tool CrowdTangle showed that the ALP and Bill Shorten out performed both the Liberals and the Greens on Facebook.
The most engaging post on the ALP's page was footage of Leigh Sales' interview with Scot Morrison- How is the economy under the Liberals? The facts speak for themselves. This generated more than 60 000 stories across Facebook.
George Wright and Erinn Swan also ran a terrific on-line community campaign, sending out email messages with subject lines like: This is why we fight. These encouraged people to share and donate.
In light of the difficulties for Labor with the mainstream media, and their success with on-line campaigning how did Cowper's own social media campaigns fair? P2H spoke with the campaign manager, Paul Sekfy .
According to Paul “I think we ran a competent social media campaign. We had two Facebook pages. The Coffs Harbour Country Labor page tended to run broader re-posts and different commentary and then there was Damian's page. Damian's page had 3 administrators. Myself, Casey Thompson from Jenni McAllisters office, and Damian. On this page we ran more policy orientated, Labor corporate reposts. We got a few engagements but whether those engagements manifested as volunteers and votes I'd like to explore further, because this was my first outing.
We did strategically invest a little bit of money in boosting posts, particularly around Damian's core issues of health, education, and jobs. We did promote the Medicare campaign and the response was significant.
Where we were a little bit more loose in terms of being the Labor Party, was with the forum in the Coffs Harbour Country Labor Facebook page. There was quite a lot of interaction. There was Liberal trolls in there and we got good public defense from people responding to inane Liberal Party idiots.
So all that stuff was new to me, but I would encourage us to continue. I also acknowledge the work of the Port 2 Harbour newsletter in playing a role and think we should have an on-going working and maintenance group linking it up and having all the technology compatible with a thought out campaign strategy. Skilling up in this area would be good.
We also could do with some training on how to generate content. That's not just about having debates in the Labor Party; that's about encouraging and empowering people to write content. Yes we can run Facebook pages but our content needs to be more than corporate content.
The mainstream media exists such that we can put content in it in terms of commentary on mainstream media web pages but we can also write letters and generate media releases. This is something that everybody in the Labor Party with some discipline and organisation should be involved with.”
Port2Harbour spoke with Paul Sekfy, President of Nambucca River Branch and campaign manager for Damian Wood about the wash -up from the election.
“Close to 14% of the primary vote is a good result considering the Oakeshott factor”, comments Paul. “Rob took votes off us, he took votes off the Greens, and took votes off Luke, and John Arkan.
When Rob came into the race our view had to change locally. It wasn't about Rob: it was about Labor trying to win government. The thing we needed to realistically do was maintain Labor's primary vote. Rob may come and may go, but the Labor Party is going to be around for a long time, and we needed and did keep prosecuting the case for this.
Everywhere that independents have triumphed, I'm thinking of Oakeshott and Windsor federally, and before that Oakeshott and Richard Torbay in the NSW state seat of Northern Tablelands, the primary vote for Labor plunged into the single digit figures. So we did a good job in the face of a unique and quite significant political phenomenon called Rob Oakeshott. Hats off to the branch structure as we rolled out and fronted up on election day. Given the constraints of Damian's work we did a great job of being able to carry the Labor message. We also managed to cover the electorates new boundaries reasonably well.
We know the patterns, we know where the work needs to be done, but given that we didn't have the resources to do direct mail, we didn't have the resources to do any significant media advertising- any radio, or television, let alone print, and we relied on letterbox dropping and social media – the vote is not telling us anything we didn't already know about where we need to work.
It is also interesting to look at some of the gains Janelle Saffin made in what used to be Cowper in the northern beaches of Coffs Harbour. That could help in the terms of a state push. Maybe Coffs Harbour needs to strengthen it's presence up north? A Woolgoolga Branch or a Northern Beaches branch could be interesting up there.
Despite being out numbered on the booths, we still put up a reasonable voter representation. The big challenge out of this is that we need bodies. We need more people: both members and supporters. Understanding demographics and where the younger people are and how we can better target them is an important part of this equation. There's an education campus and a hospitality industry in Coffs and we should be focusing our efforts to engage .
I have a constant nagging obsession this Labor program that we're involved in for Australia, this equity that we strive for in Labor is not over. There are big issues around inter-generational wealth and the ability to generate income. We have big issues in terms of climate change, land-use and energy. If you don't leave the next generation with the fundamental means to make a buck, to make a living sustainably, and to survive sustainably those inequities become quite critical. We need to be thinking about succession and thinking about how to attract young people, not just away from the Greens, but attract them to us.”
In summary, Paul contends, “We did well with what we had and we should all stick out heads up pretty high and say, 'The Labor Party isn't going anywhere. We're really happy we managed to be here in a significant way. Your campaigns put a dint in the Liberal Government and that has given us a platform to win back what we should have'.”