Election fever is on a soporific snail trail to double disillusion.
Despite all the whingeing or apathy, most voters stick with the two-party trick. The Lib-Nats bore us silly with their jobs-and-growth bleat and the Turnbull factor is a fizzer. Labor is a desperate wannabe full of promises. Are they ready to rule again? Is the newfound unity skin deep? Mediocrity rules in both camps.
What about the outsiders?
The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) is an unknown quantity and is likely to have an impact, especially in South Australia, but not in the ACT.
So let’s turn to the Greens – the other most likely party to crash the two-party circus. Despite the major parties trying to scupper them, the Greens still have high hopes in the Reps and Senate, but they face another uphill battle in the ACT.
The double-dissolution set-up doesn’t help Christina Hobbs, the lead Senate candidate for the Greens, as the quota remains the same – about 34 per cent. Liberals’ Senator Zed Seselja was pushed a bit in the September 2013 election, but the Greens were still well behind at the final count. After distribution of preferences, the Greens had just over 21 per cent of the vote.
Hobbs believes she can beat Seselja, but it will need a small miracle. Hobbs has strong links with the city and an impressive CV. But she doesn’t have a high profile in the ACT. The lack of continuity is major drawback: Hobbs is the third face for the Greens in three successive Senate contests.
It’s a similar scenario in the Reps with two new Greens candidates: Patricia Cahill (Canberra) and Carly Saeedi (Fenner). It’s tough to boost your profile, hopes and votes in such a short time.
The Greens need more than a one-off effort – they can’t keep changing candidates, especially after losing ground in 2013. The Greens received 12.67 per cent of the vote in Canberra and 14.07 per cent in Fraser (now Fenner) – a swing against them of more than 5 per cent in each seat.
The ACT is a Labor stronghold with a token Liberal presence. Why does it always have to be this way?
A large boost in the Greens vote could start to make Labor and the Liberals stop taking the ACT for granted and help break the political duopoly. Most Australians are stuck in the two-party trap and seem to fear change. Scare campaigns from both major parties – the Greens, not the Reds, apparently are under our beds now – are working. But take a closer look. The Greens have fairer and far more visionary policies, especially on renewable energy, refugees and drug-law reform. It’s well beyond time for a different direction.