Here we go, here we go, here we go…
It’s on… for realsies.
The election has been announced and in just a few short weeks (32 of them)… in just a few short days (225 of them) we’ll get the chance to vote for who’ll represent us in the seat of Hume.
Graham Richardson, on his Sky News show “Richo” referred to this as the longest campaign in Australian political history and reflected on the eight week 1984 campaign (Hawke v Peackock) as being far too long.
And this one’s going to be four times as long. It’s almost as long as the year-long campaigns Americans hold every fourth year for the presidency (and when you think about it… a 7.5 month campaign in a three year term is the same ratio… one quarter of the parliamentary term spent campaigning).
Anyway, the rest of Australia has finally caught up with us. We’ve been recording the campaign in Hume now for 11 weeks. But because the campaign is now on in earnest it might be timely to recap the current lay of the land.
PREVIOUSLY ON HUME CAMPAIGN DIARY:
- Four candidates have so far nominated: Angus Taylor (Libs), Bruce Nicholson (KAP), Adrian Van Der Byl (CDP) and James Harker-Mortlock (Independent).
- Angus Taylor won pre-selection against a strongly contested field back in May, and set up a Goulburn office in November.
- James Harker-Mortlock was the president of the Burrinjuck Nationals at the time of nominating as an Independent. He has since relinquished his National Party ties.
- Adrian Van Der Byl previously ran for the state seat of Goulburn.
- Bruce Nicholson is the first candidate for Hume from Katter’s Australia Party.
- The ALP has not named a candidate yet and is expected to do so in February/March.
Those are the basics of what has happened so far (give or take a bunch of campaigning and a side order of argy-bargy).
The election date has now been set as September 14 and although the writs will officially be issued on August 12 (meaning that is the OFFICIAL start of the campaign) that won’t stop the campaigning of politicians in this lengthy period I’m calling the Mega Campaign.
In light of that, I’ve renamed all the previous Hume Campaign Diaries and Hume Chronicles with just the dates and we are resetting the clock at week one. If this was a movie franchise, this would be the “reboot” (a term I hate… it’s either a sequel or a remake, am I right? But I digress).
We’ve had a few weeks to look at the candidates announced so far and many years to look at Hume election patterns so let’s cast a preliminary eye over the field.
It’s hardly revelationary to say Angus Taylor is the man to beat. Let’s examine the evidence.
The Libs won Hume in 2010 with 53.56% of the vote (Labor 31.86%, plus the other candidates). On a two party preferred basis the result was Libs 58.72%, Labor 41.28%. Of course, that was then, and this is now… so what variables may have changed those figures.
Alby Schultz is/was a very popular local member, elected five times as the Member for Hume. Angus Taylor may or may not carry over all of Alby’s personal vote but given that the seat had been a safe coalition seat for John Sharp even before Alby, Hume remains, at least notionally, a safe coalition seat.
Another variable is the national context. Others will offer more accurate analyses of what’s happening nationally than I, and it’s too early in the campaign for any certainty… however at the moment the ALP trails in most polls and considering they were barely able to form minority government last time around, on the evidence at hand Labor isn’t resurgent nationally or in Hume and trails the Libs.
So to the next variable… what will the ALP do in locally? There’ve yet to even announce a candidate and latest word is we won’t be hearing who it will be until late Feb/early March. That’s either a brave approach from the team that came a distant second last time, or a signal that they’ve conceded the race already.
Remember back in 2010, even though Robin Saville matched the pace set by Alby Schultz in campaigning around the electorate (and that’s no small feat, considering Schultz is a very strong campaigner who covers the length and breadth of Hume very effectively during election campaigns) he still didn’t put a significant dint in Alby’s vote.
Now Angus isn’t Alby... so he may do better or worse than Alby did… but if you were the challenger (as the ALP is) wouldn’t you still want to be seen as putting in the hard yards from word go and trying to be seen as matching it with Angus? There’s already a CDP, KAP and Independent candidate so it’s not like the Libs are the only ones making an early run.
Maybe the voters will forget what happens in this early part of this 32 week Mega Campaign, but I still would’ve thought any party keen to be seen as fair dinkum would “go at them from the jump” (apologies to Banjo Patterson).
Labor has a lot to prove locally after the cynical and unsavoury exercise that was the 2011 NSW state election, where the ALP put up Sydney student Crystal Validakis who not only never so much as visited the electorate during the campaign but wouldn’t talk to the media after revealing that fact to one of those untrustworthy media types (ok it was me).
In sporting parlance, the team that was admittedly odds-on to lose didn’t even bother to play and you can expect to do that for long and still keep your fans. Even Labor party stalwarts were angry with the Party’s approach to that election and concerned at what long term damage that could do to the party (see that story here).
Miraculously, Labor still polled second in 2011 with 23.4% of the two-party preferred vote but anything short of a genuine campaign this time around would surely see them consigned to the political graveyard as a minor party.
There have been whispers that Labor are looking at a well-known Yass identity as a candidate. If that is the case it will see that candidate and James Harker-Mortlock splitting the Yass vote when ideally each would like to have one locale that was all their own.
Which brings us to the other candidates. James Harker-Mortlock, thanks to his former role with the Nats (and for that matter his even-more-former role with the Libs years earlier) is an IWB (Independent With Baggage). He will do well in Yass but it remains to be seen if he can develop a profile in other areas.
Adrian Van Der Byl, I suspect, is happy to just act as a platform for his Party’s platforms with no expectation of electoral success. I could be wrong. He may believe he can win Hume but there’s no evidence to support the CDP have a realistic chance of winning many lower house seats, including Hume.
Then there’s Bruce Nicholson. Bruce, God bless him, genuinely believes he can win Hume. And you know what, maybe he can. Maybe the Katter Australia Party can succeed in securing the “third party” status that others like the Democrats, Greens and One Nation have hoped to in the past, winning over disillusioned voters sick of the Big Two (Libs and Labor).
I personally don’t see Hume as a potential KAP seat though given the solid track record of the coalition, but that’s the fun of elections... seeing how they transpire. Bruce believes he is currently polling at around 20-30 per cent of the vote. I think that is several large smidges on the high side, but who knows.
So IF I was to throw my two cents worth into the mix and look in my scratched and slightly cloudy Crystal Ball… unless a Labor Party or Independent candidate with a huge public profile joins the parade, I can’t see Angus being beaten. I’m sure he’ll hate to hear that - no-one wants the kiss of death of being called the favourite in case it turns voters against you or makes them think you’re cocky … but he’s taking nothing for granted and plugging away as if he was the keenest to win and was a man with the most to prove, so even my tip shouldn’t do him too much harm.
Given the way previous elections have gone (and with no offense meant to any Labor candidate past, present or future) I expect Labor would place second even if they stood a domesticated wombat as their candidate, such has been the rusted-on nature of the Labor vote in Hume and Goulburn. I think Bruce and James will battle it out for third with Adrian taking fifth.
Of course there will probably be more candidates added to the list, and a lot can change between now and September 14. It’s longer than a footy season for goshing heck’s sake.
Candidates can make mistakes, others can hit their groove, and what’s happening nationally can also play a role. And then there’s that other element, momentum (or the Big Mo) which can can come into play (a great read on that is The Big Mo: Why Momentum now rules our world by Mark Roeder). Someone can get on a roll and that can take on a momentum all its own.
So, there you go… a bit of analysis, a bit of prognostication, and a whole bunch of guessing.
Along with some opinion and commentary by me, this Campaign Diary will contain links to all Press Releases I receive from the candidates along with details of their itineraries - both of which assist voters in assessing what the candidates have been up to.
IF some candidates supply me with plenty of info and others not much or none, that’s on their own heads. For example, we have photos, press releases and itinerary details aplenty for Angus Taylor this week. If other candidates are unhappy they aren't getting the same attention... SEND ME THE SAME AMOUNT OF STUFF.
Over at Hume Chronicles I will endeavour to find what the candidates have been doing online along with what Fairfax publications and members of the public have had to say about them in online stories and social media.
That’s plenty for now. We have 225 days to go and I hope they aren’t too painful.
Oh yeah, the King of the Week award. Mostly it will go to who it appears has done the hardest yards of the week, either by appearances, press releases or a combination of those and other elements. But I’m capricious. Sometimes I feel like marking on a curve and giving it to someone who shows improvement. Sometimes I give it to Bruce Springsteen (every week if I could).
This week’s winner is easily Angus Taylor for several press releases and a long itinerary of events last week and this.
One week down, 31 to go... seeya next week.
ANGUS TAYLOR (Liberal Party):
LAST WEEK’S ITINERARY
ANGUS TAYLOR (Liberal Party):
Saturday Jan 26: Speaking Picton and Goulburn Australia Day celebrations
Sunday Jan 27: Bungendore Show
Wednesday Jan 30: Phone canvassing in Goulburn Campaign office
Thursday Jan 31: Doorknocking Murrumbateman and Yass
Friday Feb 1: Opening aged care facility Cootamundra, abattoir visit Cootamundra; health care visit Cowra; Doorknocking Cowra 3- 6pm
THIS WEEK’S ITINERARY
Saturday Feb 2: Doorknocking Goulburn and Yass; BlazeAid Charity Ball, Yass
Sunday Feb 3: Picton Creative Trader markets til 3pm. Doorknocking Picton 3 – 6pm
Monday Feb 4: Local Land services meeting, Yass; Phone canvassing
Tuesday Feb 5: Phone canvassing and doorknocking
Wednesday Feb 6: Phone canvassing
Thursday Feb 7: Phone canvassing and doorknocking
Friday Feb 8: Phone canvassing