Richmond is no longer a marginal seat. In 2007, ALP primary votes tallied 43.8 per cent, the Nationals 37 per cent and the Greens 14.9 per cent. Back then there were only four minor party candidates. Except for the Democrats, most were religious and/or right wing – this time we have a much more sophisticated free-thinking group of independents, albeit all similar in ideology.
By comparison, Justine Elliot of the ALP doesn’t say or do much, which is a wise move given that this is a safe seat for her. In 2004, Elliot beat Larry Anthony (Nationals) by a margin of only 301 preferred votes. In 2007 there was a national mood for change and she delivered a swing of over seven per cent to the ALP. It is hard, however, to write a glowing account of her achievements. Failure to deliver a light rail system – despite explicit promises – continues to highlight how underfunded our region is. The federal government just gave Queensland a huge financial boost for rail infrastructure, but Ms Elliot doesn’t seem to have the political clout to make it happen here.
Joan van Lieshout of the Liberals was pushed out of her gig as mayor of Tweed by her council ‘colleagues’ last year. In the bigger pond of national politics it is likely her influence would be even less effective. Since the Libs didn’t run a candidate last election, she may pick up some elderly conservative support. Like the Nationals, her campaign has appeal for those knocking on death’s door, but very little in the way of a youthful or progressive outlook. Considering what the demographics are in Richmond this may be clever politics, which is surprising because she doesn’t appear that bright.
Alan Hunter of the Nationals is a nice chap by all accounts, however like the Liberals he is attached to policies and ideology that offer future generations of this country nothing. Nothing. As with most politicians aligned with conservative parties, he is more progressive than his party in terms of climate change and farming practices.
Joe Ebono of the Greens will no doubt poll comparatively strongly, given that the folks who live in the immediate area are generally engaged in the political process and understand complex geopolitical and social issues. Both Gillard and Abbott don’t want to debate Bob Brown. One can only assume this is because of their concern for losing political ground, which highlights why two parties offering little variation in policy keeps stunting the growth of a nation.
If you don’t capture four per cent of the vote, then the $500 it costs to climb into the political arena is not refunded.
Thank you Nic Faulkner, Stephen Hegedus, Matt Hartley, David Robinson (Democrats) and Julie Boyd. It is those who have little hope of winning who can speak more freely. More importantly, they can highlight and examine issues without party approval or retribution. In other words, they can be more truthful.
As mentioned, Richmond is not likely to change sides in this election. What changes the political sheets in this country is a few thousand swinging voters in marginal seats. It is their often short-sighted and ill-conceived views that both sides of parliament believe they have to flatter. Until that fundamental problem can be addressed, our politicians will continue to lead by opinion poll and govern by focus groups.