This old Labor warhorse looked at the offerings from the Greens, as announced in the papers and online recently and thought, well, is this all that different?
I am looking at the process and the results of that process.
I have written about the Labor preselections coming up and what those candidates have to produce to get preselected and have also written about the political environment in which those preselections must be played out. When the Libs do so early next year I’ll go to print on them too.
Them Greens is funny cattle, ain’t they?
It struck me as funny when I saw the Greens preselect, as they did in previous elections, lead candidates for each electorate. A cursory reading of this idea is that they intend to push the lead candidates at the detriment of the support candidates.
This really relegates support candidates to political cannon fodder. The problem is that those support candidates will all believe that they have a chance of being elected. It is just part of candidate’s disease that they think they have a chance. If it was not, their effort on the campaign trail would be nil.
So, the lead candidates are Kurrajong, Shane Rattenbury (no surprises here); Murrumbidgee, Carolyn Le Couteur (no surprise here either except that she lives in Downer which is way, way away from the suburbs of South Canberra, Weston and Woden, let alone Kambah).
[Interesting here to note that when the Greens had four members in the Assembly, two of them did not live in their electorate – is this a trend?]
Ginninderra’s lead candidate is Indra Esguerra (Shane’s chief of staff and an Assembly staff member for many years – again no surprise); Yerrabi’s lead is Veronica Wensing (a lady with good creds in the women’s support sector); and Brindabella has Michael Mazengarb (this guy is a true greenie working on the environment and clean energy).
So the lead candidates are a current MLA, a former MLA, an Assembly staffer, a community advocate on women’s issues and a real greenie.
But how much talent is being lost by relegating the support cannon fodder to the back bleachers?
In Kurrajong is one of the most promising candidates, Rebecca Vassarotti (a household name in the community services sector. Ask anyone about her and they will say, oh yeah she’s with the Y or ACTCOSS), but with respect, Jillian Thomsen is there for the experience.
In Murrumbidgee, Jennifer Faerber is a former journo but also a political staffer working for Christine Milne and Richard Di Natale. (Staffers do get an inside run, eh?) Emma Davidson has good creds and is a strong candidate. (Too bad she’s only there to get Carolyn elected).
In Ginninderra, the blokes don’t look all that wild for my money. Richard Merzain seems to be a young guy with greenie stuff in his DNA but his idea of bringing the concept of a Sunday Assembly to life in Canberra is a worry. What about the separation of church and state? Sunday Assembly seems to be a bit hair brained to me. Jason Chappel seems to be a bit light on in his claim to be a small business person and making vague promises like “being committed to making Canberra and our whole community, a fairer place with more opportunity for those who slip between the cracks of our current system”. Drrrgh! Really! All candidates think this. And none can tell you which cracks there are, who is falling through them, and what they will do in real time to fix this one.
In Yerrabi, Andrew Braddock and Tobias Holm haven’t given anything to excite people to vote for them yet. Let’s hope that they don’t just run dead.
Down my way, Ben Murphy is backing up again, after failing at the run in 2012. I still don’t know anything about him and I don’t think the election will enlighten us. Tuggeranong is a funny place and really is not ready for more than one Green MLA. Its experience last time was enough. Amanda Bresnan didn’t live in the electorate and concentrated on shadow ministerial work. If you don’t get a core constituency in Tuggeranong, you won’t win in Brindabella. Young Johnathon Davis seems to want to follow Wyatt Roy and be the youngest MLA ever. Ros Dundas did that when elected at age 23 but that was a protest vote and this time the Greens will be the subject of the protest not the beneficiary of it. (I have a small affection for the young fella cos he spells his first name the same way as my grandson and they share the same surname – but I’ll get over it).
Back to the machinations. If a party has lead candidates and support candidates, it is not truly a democratic one. It has two classes of candidates and makes this obvious. So who is going to get the lion’s share of the resources and the media?
With the election spending cap in place and shared among the candidates of parties, does this mean that the lead candidates will soak up all of the cap at the expense of the support ones?
I feel sorry for the cannon fodder because they will all think that they have a chance of winning and really not even their party agrees with that. All they will do is give the donkey vote to their lead candidates as one by one they get eliminated. It is true that the party’s votes for eliminated candidates stays in the box and travels upwards. This is about 80% right. It is not true in all cases but consistent enough to bargain on.
So the cannon fodder are there to maximise the votes of the lead candidates and nothing else.
All major parties are guilty of this and what a waste of good talent.