Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Study postgraduate law: the ANU Juris Doctor

Where, and how, the ACT election was won

By Charlotte Harper - 16 October 2016 28

Michael Pettersson

There will be plenty of analysis in coming days about why Canberrans voted the way they did. This is our early assessment of some of the key issues that were in play.

Depth per seat and local focus of candidates

In Ginninderra, Labor had two sitting MLAs in possible future deputy leader Yvette Berry and fellow cabinet member Chris Bourke. It had one high profile and popular candidate with deep roots in the electorate in Kippax Uniting Church minister Gordon Ramsay (pictured immediately below with his wife), another in local issues blogger, Belconnen Community Council chair Belconnen Arts Centre board member Tara Cheyne (next photo below Mr Ramsay) and another in former Labor staffer and RiotACT columnist Kim Fischer.

Gordon Ramsay
Having such strong candidates makes it hard to pick even now who will actually win one of the five slots in the electorate, but one thing is for sure, under Hare-Clarke, such a line-up is a winner overall.

Tara Cheyne

Meanwhile, in Yerrabi, a 25-year-old wunderkind from Crace named Michael Pettersson (and a loyal band of supporters) built up such name recognition and community support that he is on track to become the surprise success story of the election. He’s pictured at top.

The fact that one of his key Liberals opponents lives in Red Hill and another held his campaign launch in a Manuka cafe is just as much in play in this seat as the fact that light rail is of course popular here.

Social media management

The Liberals totally blew it on this one. Social media works best when it’s authentic because accounts are run by candidates. Take a look at Andrew Barr’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and you’ll see immediately that he is hands on and reactive.

The Liberals’ social media was, we understand, handled centrally.

Dozens of Canberrans were so angry at being blocked or having their comments on Liberals Facebook pages deleted they even set up a Facebook group to share their frustrations:

“Canberra Liberals: stop suppressing comments & start responding to questions on Facebook!”

Yes, the co-founders were Greens supporters, but the fact remains, blocking and deleting posts makes people angry and gives them more rather than less ammunition.

Unless comments breach guidelines such as those on discrimination and vilification in the RiotACT’s moderation policies, it is better to either engage and make your case, leave the commenter’s remark so that others can assess it on its merits, or post a note saying something like “We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, but thanks for your input.”

Vision for the future

From light rail to Test cricket, to international engagement and 100 per cent renewable energy targets, Labor has developed and successfully sold a vision for the future of the city.

The Liberals focused on issues that affect Canberrans individually such as rates and the cost of light rail, but this is a city filled with progressives who actually want to pay taxes to ensure a better life for everyone. For the most part, they’re actually happy to wear the rate rises as part of a tax reform package, and to pay for light rail even if they won’t use it as much as their friends across town.

The two key visions within the Liberals’ campaign were to improve the health system and bus network, but Labor swiftly countered with commitments that either matched or improved on those of their conservative opponents.

People power

There was simply no comparison between the major parties when it came to people on the ground. With the exception of Elizabeth Lee, the Liberals lacked the hordes of willing helpers that Labor builds its success upon. If the attendance at their launch event was an indication of their active membership, it was a much smaller and older group than that of Labor. Take a look at our Facebook live video coverage of the election night parties and you’ll see what I mean.

You’ll also note the evangelical behaviour of said supporters in contrast with the more reserved Liberals. It’s infectious, that level of political belief, and each and every one of those supporters is lobbying their friends and contacts via social media and in person constantly.

A huge benefit for all of this for Labor is that when it comes time to select candidates, they have a pool of potentials who are embedded in their communities from which to draw.

Media management

Every single day of the campaign, Labor had something positive to announce for the city, in another part of the city, to the point where it became impossible for the media to keep up. It meant Mr Barr, Ms Fitzharris or Ms Berry in particular were on commercial and ABC television with something to sell every night.

I have never in all my 35 years living in the capital travelled so widely within it as I have during the campaign. Did Labor hold an event or announcements in every suburb? It sure felt like it at times, and this was a strategy that gave it a territory-wide presence.

They kept the media so busy covering election pledges that journalists had little time left for analysis of, for example, the Auditor-General’s report into the Land Development Agency or indeed whether the latest announcement was something new or just a re-announcement of something already factored into the forward estimates.

They had a very structured campaign plan from start to finish, with specific policy focus rotating weekly.

All of this was made possible for them because with 15 years in government, they have access to resources, information and venues the Opposition can only dream of.

Pictured are Michael Pettersson at home in Crace, Gordon Ramsay and his wife, and Tara Cheyne. Photos: Charlotte Harper

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments
28 Responses to
Where, and how, the ACT election was won
1
Proboscus 12:32 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Wow!! Just when I thought Canberrans couldn’t get any stupider, they re-elect the Labor/Greens for another term.

To those who voted them back in, you cannot complain when the cost of the light rail skyrockets.

Or when your rates do the same.

Or when the health system collapses.

Or when your child finishes school stupid and uneducated.

This ridiculous result has just hastened my move interstate.

Report this comment

2
Maryann Mussared 2:05 pm
16 Oct 16
#

And the losers are? The homeless; young people battling a complete lack of affordable housing; anyone stuck in the rental treadmill with no control over rent increases, including the elderly and veterans; the community of the Oaks Estate; the ageing population of Brindabella; and the arts community. I am sure any reader with a sense of social justice will see how this election was hijacked. It is going to be a long time between elections….

Report this comment

3
Lenient 2:13 pm
16 Oct 16
#

The Liberals needed a stronger policy platform than having more left-over coreflute than the ALP.

Interesting to note the huge swing against the Liberal in their stronghold of Brindabella. Given the impact of the anti-rail campaign would have had its optimal impact here indicates the ongoing impact of Zed rolling Humphreys has had on support for the current regime.

Report this comment

4
John Moulis 3:08 pm
16 Oct 16
#

I don’t think people realise the impact gay marriage had on this election. The federal Liberals have handled the issue appallingly with the public being left the impression that the conservative rump is calling the shots on the issue. Added to this the fact that Barr is gay and the Territory has a tradition of backing the progressive outlook on social issues, the issue was poison for the local Liberals, especially when The Canberra Times revealed during the Campaign that Coe, Jones and most of the other Liberal candidates opposed gay marriage. I know the media was portraying it as a referendum on the tram but the backstory is that the gay marriage debate and the plebiscite issue played itself out over the course of the ACT campaign and the Canberra Liberals were caught in the crossfire.

Report this comment

5
rommeldog56 4:02 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Maryann Mussared said :

And the losers are? The homeless; young people battling a complete lack of affordable housing; anyone stuck in the rental treadmill with no control over rent increases, including the elderly and veterans; the community of the Oaks Estate; the ageing population of Brindabella; and the arts community.

I am sure any reader with a sense of social justice will see how this election was hijacked. It is going to be a long time between elections….

+1. Add in self funded retirees whose pension increases wont come anywhere near meeting the Annual Rates increases + levies, let alone all the other rapidly rising ACT Labor/Greens Govt charges and cost of living. The 10% avg increase in Annual Rates pa forever + the 20% rise in Annual Rates for Units from 1/7/16 and another 15% for Units on 1/7/17, is going to hurt so many people that would otherwise not have hurt anywhere near so badly under the old Annual Rates/Stamp Duty regime.

But wait……I hear the comments coming about selling up and moving to a small unit or renting, about how the reduction in conveyancing stamp duty is better for housing affordability and mobility, about how you should sell and buy every 10 years to lessen the burden, etc, etc, etc……

I wonder what this is going to do for waiting lists for ACT Government Housing (those tenants don’t have to pay Annual Rates apparently) ! Or for housing affordability when Annual Rates are $4K+ pa. However, I think many, many ACT voters/ratepayers are way too affluent on their duel Public Servant salaries to worry about such minor matters, I’m afraid.

Yes – plenty of people will be and are being left behind in housing affordability in Canberra – despite the fact that the ACT has the 2nd highest rate of homelessness in the country !! The ACT Lib’s sure didn’t strategise/focus anywhere near enough on housing affordability and homelessness in the election.

Welcome to the new, cold, hard and uncaring ACT Labor/Greens “vision” for Canberra.

Report this comment

6
rommeldog56 4:05 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Lenient said :

Interesting to note the huge swing against the Liberal in their stronghold of Brindabella. Given the impact of the anti-rail campaign would have had its optimal impact here indicates the ongoing impact of Zed rolling Humphreys has had on support for the current regime.

Agreed. As I recall, there was a large swing to the Libs in Brindabella in 2012 as I recall. So maybe some of that has gone back – regardless of policies.

Report this comment

7
Ian 4:18 pm
16 Oct 16
#

I just think the Liberals really fail to make (a) a compelling case for change (b) any suggestion that they possess the competence to deliver it. While the Labor government has plenty of flaws, such as regular bouts of incompetence, and a propensity to pursue dubious pet projects, they are not terrible. The Liberals have never been able to convince me that they would provide a better alternative, and indeed, much about them suggests they could be worse.

Report this comment

8
JC 4:28 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Proboscus said :

Wow!! Just when I thought Canberrans couldn’t get any stupider, they re-elect the Labor/Greens for another term.

To those who voted them back in, you cannot complain when the cost of the light rail skyrockets.

Or when your rates do the same.

Or when the health system collapses.

Or when your child finishes school stupid and uneducated.

This ridiculous result has just hastened my move interstate.

I think you are right about one point which is education. Quite clearly not enough has been spent on education down south going by the election results.

Report this comment

9
JC 4:35 pm
16 Oct 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

Lenient said :

Interesting to note the huge swing against the Liberal in their stronghold of Brindabella. Given the impact of the anti-rail campaign would have had its optimal impact here indicates the ongoing impact of Zed rolling Humphreys has had on support for the current regime.

Agreed. As I recall, there was a large swing to the Libs in Brindabella in 2012 as I recall. So maybe some of that has gone back – regardless of policies.

Might have been because Zed was in that electorate last time and the leaders no matter how big a drop kick they are (like Zed was/is) tend to draw more of the vote. So maybe the swing was a normalisation of that.

But was funny to see one of the biggest swings against the Libs was in the Deep South and one of the biggest to was in Gungahlin!
Though onbviusly the swings are based on notional view of the last election due to the creation of 2 new electorates and the redistribution.

Report this comment

10
dungfungus 4:56 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Maryann Mussared said :

And the losers are? The homeless; young people battling a complete lack of affordable housing; anyone stuck in the rental treadmill with no control over rent increases, including the elderly and veterans; the community of the Oaks Estate; the ageing population of Brindabella; and the arts community.

I am sure any reader with a sense of social justice will see how this election was hijacked. It is going to be a long time between elections….

These people fit the profiles of typical Labor voters.

They deserve the government they voted for.

Report this comment

11
Chris Mordd Richards 5:25 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Small correction: I personally founded the Banned by Canberra Liberals group on 29th October (and yes I am a Greens member) and then 3 weeks later, I added Leigh Travis, a friend and fellow Greens member, as Co-spokesperson (and co-admin on FB) for the group, and Leigh and I have led the group together since then.

I will be looking to write something about the group explaining what we did in full and how it all came about over the next week or so to publish on RA to tell the full story from our perspective.

Report this comment

12
A Nonny Mouse 5:26 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Neither Labor nor Greens vote changed by more than a small fraction of a percent. The change was entirely the Libs going down by 3.8%. It is often said that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. In this case, it was the opposition that lost it. To much listening to a small number of old fogies from Can the Tram and thinking they could base a campaign around that. Didn’t help that people actually like 100% renewable electricity and when was the last time you heard a Liberal enthusiastic about any energy source but coal? Claiming to support the 100% target was not enough. Look at the company these people choose to keep: Federal liberals promised not to change the federal renewable energy target, ‘unity ticket on Gonski’ etc. Really, Libs don’t do the vision thing.

Report this comment

13
A Nonny Mouse 5:33 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Proboscus said :

Wow!! Just when I thought Canberrans couldn’t get any stupider, they re-elect the Labor/Greens for another term.

To those who voted them back in, you cannot complain when the cost of the light rail skyrockets.

Or when your rates do the same.

Or when the health system collapses.

Or when your child finishes school stupid and uneducated.

This ridiculous result has just hastened my move interstate.

Taking those in reverse order, after 15 years of Labor and Greens:
-My children have recently finished school well educated in the ACT public system.
-On a few occasions when I had a serious medical matter, it was dealt with promptly and competently in the ACT health system.
-My rates have increased a little but it is more equitable and this was balanced when I paid no stamp duty to buy a vehicle that would run on the ACT’s 100% renewable electricity.
-Can’t comment on a that one, but the sky has not fallen in yet.

When you move interstate, I hope you enjoy the electricity that is more expensive yet less green than in the ACT.

Report this comment

14
dungfungus 6:36 pm
16 Oct 16
#

A Nonny Mouse said :

Neither Labor nor Greens vote changed by more than a small fraction of a percent. The change was entirely the Libs going down by 3.8%. It is often said that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. In this case, it was the opposition that lost it. To much listening to a small number of old fogies from Can the Tram and thinking they could base a campaign around that. Didn’t help that people actually like 100% renewable electricity and when was the last time you heard a Liberal enthusiastic about any energy source but coal? Claiming to support the 100% target was not enough. Look at the company these people choose to keep: Federal liberals promised not to change the federal renewable energy target, ‘unity ticket on Gonski’ etc. Really, Libs don’t do the vision thing.

Try and understand that “old fogies” were not exposed to the rampart credit that our current young generation is soaking up and the the massively unfunded “visionary” schemes (like Gonski, the NDIS and trams) that today’s governments embrace.

We have seen “boom and bust” several times in our lifetimes and the next bust will be very soon.

The current working generation is about to find out what vision costs.

Report this comment

15
justin heywood 7:03 pm
16 Oct 16
#

Charlotte Harper said

“….but this is a city filled with progressives who actually want to pay taxes to ensure a better life for everyone. For the most part, they’re actually happy to wear the rate rises as part of a tax reform package, and to pay for light rail even if they won’t use it as much as their friends across town.”

Really? You saw it (the election) as a battle between the altruists on the left and the self-interested on the right?

I know plenty from both sides. Labor/green voters don’t have a monopoly on virtue, even if they tell themselves otherwise.

But all that aside, congratulations to RiotACT on its balanced and fair coverage in the lead-up to the election.

Report this comment

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Search across the site