Election clock is TikTok-ing for Canberra Liberals

Ian Bushnell 5 July 2020 32
Mark Parton

Canberra Liberals’ Mark Parton was kicked out of the ACT Legislative Assembly last Thursday for failing to remove a TikTok video, overshadowing the only day the Assembly sat. Image: Screenshot.

It is reflective of just where the Canberra Liberals are on the election trail that it was Mark Parton’s social media antics that grabbed most of the attention last week.

With only three months to go until Canberrans choose the next Legislative Assembly, the Opposition’s headlines are getting shriller, and while it continues to push familiar buttons we’re no closer to knowing the detail of what’s on offer in October.

Worse, the Liberals seem intent on contorting themselves on key issues and leaving voters guessing about what they will do if they make it into government.

They appeared to jump back on board the stop-the-tram bus, now being driven by former Labor chief minister Jon Stanhope, when attacking the government over delays in signing contracts with Canberra Metro for Stage 2A light rail to Commonwealth Park.

Nothing wrong with saying there had been epic mismanagement of the project but Opposition Leader Alistair Coe insisted on the release of the full business case and costings for the leg, something that is clearly not in the ACT’s interests during negotiations with the contractor.

While the Liberals say they are committed to the light rail extension in principle, they’re not about to back anything without knowing the cost and all the pros and cons.

“It’s very hard to make any commitment when the government refuses to reveal this information,” Mr Coe said.

Not only that, Mr Coe said that instead of sticking with the Canberra Metro, the Stage 1 contractor, the government should have gone to open tender, even though it makes sense to stay with a successful team to ensure a unified network.

But he would not answer questions about whether a Liberal Government would review the project, revert to an open tender process or not proceed at all.

This puts an election cloud over the whole light rail project, in spite of its popularity and the clamour from all areas of the city for the shiny red vehicles to come to their part of town at some point.

It is all too easy for the government to brand the Liberals, again, as anti-light rail and anti-progress.

Do we really need another light rail election?

The community needs to know if the Liberals will continue the project, and Mr Coe should not play a political game that he cannot win. He should get on board, and pledge to manage and run light rail better than the government, neutralising attacks and giving the Liberals something positive to say.

At least the Liberals will honour any contracts if the government does manage to ink any before the election.

The Liberals continued to hammer the theme that the government wants to corral Canberrans into high-rise apartments when young families want their own patch of dirt and freestanding house in the suburbs.

The bias towards medium and high-density development and the high cost of land is well documented, and the Liberals have been saying since Mr Coe’s Press Club appearance last October that they will release more land for houses and make them more affordable.

Alistair Coe

Canberra Liberals’ leader Alistair Coe: time to kick some real goals. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

It may have been OK then to scope out some general principles on what could be fertile electoral ground but last week he again refused to put some meat on the bones for journalists at a press conference he called to highlight some development approval and land release numbers that supported his case.

Mr Coe will let us know in good time where land will be released, how much and by what amount he would like to see prices come down. It would also be good to know if he plans to reform the Suburban Land Agency to overturn the government’s monopoly on land sales, something he is fiercely critical of.

With land being the currency in the ACT, these are significant matters for any territory government.

Mr Coe has also been relentless on rates and you can’t blame him for that but beyond the four-year freeze does he intend to abandon the government tax reform process, something most economists support?

And when it comes to sport, Mr Coe seems all too willing to take a punt on any populist cause, backing Women’s Football World Cup games in Canberra no matter what the cost, and calling on the AFL to set up a playing hub in the national capital, the timing of which was unfortunate considering the events in Melbourne.

This may have grabbed some airplay but considering the valid criticisms the Liberals have levelled at the government largesses towards big sport it only undermines their cause.

Finally, there is Mr Parton, who has spent more time this year climbing Mt Taylor with his dog and posting his expeditions on social media than putting in for the team.

He has recently discovered TikTok, although some have cruelly jibed that he’s the wrong demographic, and fell foul of Speaker Joy Burch last week in a bid to save democracy from itself.

Disingenuously, he said he was a little perplexed that it got anyone’s attention and the Assembly had wasted so much time on his flouting of the rules on filming inside the chamber

Meanwhile, the government gets on with being the adult in the room, rolling out its infrastructure program and managing the COVID-19 pandemic soberly, with the Melbourne outbreak only vindicating its cautious approach in the face of Liberal calls to reopen the economy.

If Mr Coe believes it can all wait until the campaign or that somehow his team can skate through on vague promises and Mr Parton’s social media skills, then that will be a shame.

The clock is TikTok-ing.


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32 Responses to Election clock is TikTok-ing for Canberra Liberals
Order
Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 6:38 pm 06 Jul 20

Hahahah!!! Policy...hahaha. They never have any.

Jp Romano Jp Romano 2:22 pm 06 Jul 20

I’ve heard Patrick Pentony, Jacob Ingram, Peter Cain, and Jane Hiatt are all new blood, doing great things, and working hard to get elected.

    Peter Cain - Liberal for Ginninderra Peter Cain - Liberal for Ginninderra 8:01 pm 06 Jul 20

    Thanks JP and I'm just getting started👍

    Jacob Ingram for Kurrajong Jacob Ingram for Kurrajong 8:37 pm 06 Jul 20

    Jp Romano someone pointed out your comment to me. Thanks mate - I’m glad to be getting my name, values and ideas out there.

Stuart McKay Stuart McKay 9:35 am 06 Jul 20

Ian Bushnell has thrown the toys out of the cot again, sigh Brad Clarke

Joseph Stubbs Joseph Stubbs 9:15 am 06 Jul 20

Here's a look at what you get when you go to ACT Labors 2020 Election Policies page.

Though, to be fair, elsewhere on their site, they have three policies listed.

I'm sure both parties will be adding more shortly.

Joseph Stubbs Joseph Stubbs 9:12 am 06 Jul 20

For anyone wandering where they can find any news of Canberra Liberal policy announcements, you can find them at the below link.

I'll do a basic summary for anyone who doesn't have time for a detailed look.

- 4.5 million expansion to dental care for indigenous youth.

- Green space Guarantee. Basically a guaranteed green space within a 10min walk from any home.

- A rates freeze for the entirety of the Canberra Liberals first term in Government.

http://voteliberal.org.au/latest-news/

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 6:40 pm 06 Jul 20

    Joseph Stubbs we already have green space within 10 minutes. It’s a non-policy. And I’m pretty sure that act Labor are also freezing rates.

Callum Bowen Callum Bowen 9:07 am 06 Jul 20

What a strangely framed article. Full of statements of dubious veracity as fact with no evidence:

•”Nothing wrong with saying there had been epic mismanagement of the project”. Mismanaged? Yes it arrived a little late, but was more than $30 million under budget and pre-Covid was way more popular than anybody had expected (https://www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/barr/2019/light-rail-comes-in-significantly-under-budget)

•”you can’t blame him (Coe) [for being relentless on rates]”.

This really is the cheap tactic for ACT elections. The fact is that the current ACT revenue stream is about 32% raised from taxes such as rates (NSW gets about 39% of its annual revenue from taxes), and a slew of smaller, inefficient taxes (stamp and insurance duties for example) have been reduced or removed completely. The money has to come from somewhere, and if you can afford to buy a property why not contribute to easing the smaller tax burdens on those who are hoping one day to buy their own. The Libs constantly make huge spending promises while also saying they’ll slash rates, without then explaining where they’ll be making up the massive shortfall such an action would create.

• “does he [Coe] intend to abandon the government tax reform process, something most economists support?”.

Which economists? Where? How many is “most”?

• “considering the valid criticisms the Liberals have levelled at the government largesses towards big sport”.

What valid criticisms? And exactly what largesse? Last years budget allotted only 2% to sport, arts and tourism events combined. Don’t exactly think “big sport” are rolling in gold encrusted puppies on that.

•”[Mark Parton] fell foul of Speaker Joy Burch last week in a bid to save democracy from itself.”.

He fell foul of simple foolishness followed up by doubling down when he should have backed down. It was no more a bid to “save democracy” than it was a bid to get himself on the news (which he managed with two pressers in the same day!). It was simple showboating and the rules, and the fact that he broke them, were clear.

This whole article is framed as if the Liberals are the better choice for the ACT and that they need to get their act together. But that at is their core. The confused messaging, contradictory promises and substanceless approach to policy is exactly who they are.

The “adult in the room” paragraph points out exactly how well the current government handled things both before and during the Covid crisis, and yet the surface takeaway of this article seems to be a bunch of unfounded claims that it’s a mess. It reads like a Lib apologist piece.

Phil Essam Phil Essam 9:01 am 06 Jul 20

Yep. Not seeing anything positive from them

Lyn Kemp Lyn Kemp 8:55 am 06 Jul 20

I think the last person the Libs need to be leader would be Mark Parton......would be failed shock jock!!

Monty Ki Monty Ki 8:33 am 06 Jul 20

I'm happy with Andrew Barr and how he has handled everything. I'm also happy with Shane Rattenbury and the influence the Greens have in Canberra also. They are all doing a wonderful job in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. If only the rest of the country were led by such dedicated politicians. They are not perfect. But they are doing good work and we have benefited greatly from their efforts.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 6:03 pm 06 Jul 20

    Monty Ki did you know that Canberra has the worst economy in the country??

    Ben Winkler Ben Winkler 7:24 pm 06 Jul 20

    Comm Bank disagrees with you Jorge.

    “Victoria remains the best performing economy but now shares top spot with Tasmania. The ACT has lifted to third spot from NSW. But there is little separating the top four states...”

    Monty Ki Monty Ki 8:08 pm 06 Jul 20

    Jorge Gatica do you even understand how economies work? And it's not just about financial economies. Social economy, how good social services, infrastructure accessibility and equity for citizens all contribute to how great we are doing. There is no point in having a great financial economy if it's not spent on its citizens. If only the wealthy few gain from the economy, it's still a failure for most people. Something we can observe in the US, and increasingly in a LNP lead government. Economy of social health and well-being is a vital part of the mix, something many governments (and people like you) miss the point of.

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 7:20 am 07 Jul 20

    Monty Ki think Jorge is 🎣

Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 7:50 am 06 Jul 20

Great article.

Sad part is that the federal liberals got away with wild claims and no actual policy backing or numbers...

I only hope Canberrans are smarter than to accept that.

Tom Adam Tom Adam 7:50 am 06 Jul 20

I agree with most of this article, but I’m yet to hear what the current Government will do to make our lives better. Genuinely there is a political vacuum in the ACT.

What is needed are independents to hold the balance of power and make both “major” parties work for the electorate.

    Mal Briggs Mal Briggs 7:59 am 06 Jul 20

    Tom Adam more of what they are doing, I guess?

    Creating jobs during a recession to plant thousands of trees, extend the light rail network, work towards us being carbon neutral (which is driving electricity prices down)

    I wouldn't call it a vacuum when the current government is actually doing things.

    The trouble is the opposition aren't posting any credible alternatives (which I would honestly love, I'm a big believer that good competition creates better outcomes)

    Tom Adam Tom Adam 8:01 am 06 Jul 20

    Mal, whole heartedly agree about the opposition’s currently policy agenda.

    But it seems the current government only just throw insults and try to claim the last election cycle has been a good one.

    What we’re not seeing yet - actual debate between the two leaders, with some rules and topics. You know, like elections used to be?

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