Hume Campaign Diary - Nov. 09

It’s election time. Again.

Or is it?

Well there’s an official launch of an election campaign office this weekend and that would usually mean we’re nearing an election. And maybe we are but just when is anyone’s guess.

The next election has to happen BEFORE November 30 2013, which is more than a year from now. If that’s when it actually DOES takes place, that will be the first time a campaign office has been opened a full year out from an election in Goulburn (and I’m pretty confident it would be one of the first times a campaign office was opened that early anywhere in Australia).

The campaign office will be opened on behalf of Angus Taylor, duly endorsed and pre-selected Liberal candidate for the Federal seat of Hume and heir apparent to retiring Alby Schultz.

And even if the launch of the office is potentially a long way out from the election, Taylor’s personal campaign has been running for quite a while already. Pre-selected in May, he’s been working the room now for six months and making a pretty good fist of it at that.

In terms of press releases, letters to the editor and public appearances, Taylor has been in election mode since hitting the ground when pre-selected. His impact has been so effective so far that community groups are already approaching him for assistance and including him in their plans as if he has already won the title.

No word yet from the ALP who they’ll be running or when they’ll be launching their campaign, but then again why would they? Why would anyone? No election date has been set.

But even if it’s perfectly understandable that the ALP and the other parties haven’t picked a candidate or started campaigning yet, it does place them in an invidious position.

Labor had a good solid dig in the last federal election with Robin Saville matching seasoned campaigner Alby Schultz in effort and output (which is no small thing given just how hard Schultz works during a campaign).

But Labor’s decision to effectively not contest the last state election has left a bad taste in the mouths of party faithful, and added a skip to the step of the coalition.

“But they did contest the election”, I hear a few rusted on fans yell from the back of the room. Technically, yes, but the decision to use a Sydney based student who never once stepped foot in the electorate and did zero local campaigning was as cynical as it was perfunctory.

Publicly Labor Party supporters and helpers backed the decision but almost uniformly they privately hated the decision. Bob Stephens, local Labor stalwart and husband of Senator Ursula Stephens stood alone in publicly lambasting the decision to essentially not contest the election.

It hurt their reputation as a party or as a brand, as some commentators like to call political parties these days. The damage done will be difficult to overcome so it’s essential, if they wish to rebuild their Party’s reputation and popularity locally that they give this election a good, solid nudge.

Taylor’s early start is going to make that job just that little bit more difficult. And it would be difficult enough to take a coalition candidate on in Hume anyway.

It would have been interesting to see how a National Party candidate, particularly the popular and well known state MP Katrina Hodgkinson, would have gone against him in a three cornered contest but that’s been ruled out.

So like it or not, ready or not, Labor has to start gearing up for an election soon and with the strongest possible candidate or risk being relegated to the status of a minor party locally.

But I've gone off on a tangent. The campaign launch this weekend is at 264 Auburn Street, the starting time is 11.30am and special guest is Scott Morrison, shadow minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Productivity and Population.

That’s some pretty heavy artillery to be wheeling out but Taylor comes with some strong backing and is regarded as a future party star, even a potential leader. Hence the early start to campaigning and the determination to leave no stone unturned.

Of course, that’s not something we good people of Hume (or HUMANS as I like to call us) need to worry about. That’s something for the higher ups and grown-ups to concern themselves with. Our job is to evaluate and ultimately vote for someone who’ll look after our fair part of the world.

To that end...effective 11.30am tomorrow, I declare the campaign for Hume open. 

That also means I’ll be maintaining this campaign diary, but rest easy – it will be sporadic at best until the battle has been joined by other combatants.

As with previous campaign diaries, I’ll be marking on effort, on how open candidates are with information both through us and to the public, on how willing candidates are to take place in reasonable activities (ie public candidate debates – I’m looking at you Mr Schultz), on how much they (seem to) genuinely care about Goulburn and Hume and on how nicely they play with others.

I’ll take points off for mentioning the electorate is the size of Belgium but add points for random pieces of local trivia because that’s the arbitrary way I roll.

I’ll try to list any activities candidates will be attending and make available a library of all press releases issued by candidates after this weekend, but for that to work they need to send me those press releases and diary updates at chris.gordon@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

If you don’t send it to me, I don’t know it and can’t include it and pass it on to readers/voters.

So… let the campaign begin.

In the red corner, Angus Taylor (Liberal Party). In the other corners – no-one… yet. Hopefully that changes soon. 

Ladies and gentlemen … please give us a good, clean, but most of all GENUINE campaign. Have a genuine dig, please play nice, and always remember, we really like this part of the world and we don’t hand the keys over to just anyone.

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