18 September 2020

If you're complaining about corflutes, spare a thought for the minor parties

| Bethany Williams
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Bethany Williams campaigning at Kaleen shops. Photo: Facebook.

The indicators are all there: an abundance of corflutes on the roadside, piles of political flyers in your letterbox, being unable to visit your nearest shopping centre without being accosted by a smiling political candidate hoping to get your attention.

Yes, it’s election time!

As you drive around Canberra at the moment, your eyeballs will be spammed with sign after sign, faces and names vying for that split second of your attention. It only happens every four years in the ACT, but many of you would prefer it didn’t happen at all. The advertising, not the election, that is.

But I’d like to give you another perspective to consider – that of a minor party candidate or independent.

Most of us are embarking on what is possibly our biggest life-changing journey – a journey that has probably taken years and years of hard work just to reach this point.

So why the bajillions of signs, flyers and the incessant campaigning at shopping centres? Well, it all comes down to one thing: we just want to introduce ourselves to you.

If you don’t know who we are, you won’t vote for us. And at a time when we desperately need to have a more diverse crossbench to ensure more scrutiny and transparency, minor parties and independents need your votes more than ever.

When we have a more diverse Legislative Assembly, we will have better democracy. And this will be a really positive thing for Canberra.

READ ALSO What do Inner North residents want from this ACT election?

There’s another perspective I’d like to ask you to ponder in relation to the signs and flyers. When you are in a minor party or if you’re an independent, you have to self-fund your campaign.

And you don’t just have to buy your own campaign materials, but also distribute them in your spare time – in between working full-time, looking after your family, etc.

Minor parties and independents don’t usually have an army of volunteers like the major parties do – unless we have lots of really good friends!

So, this makes every single sign, flyer and personal interaction so much more important to us because we don’t have the resources available to us that the majors have to let you know we are here.

I know that there are a lot of people who find the mere existence of these signs and flyers offensive, and I do concede that the signs can get a bit much, but for the minors and indies, this is one of the very few channels we have to let you know that we’re here and to ask you to consider voting for us. As much as we would love to meet each and every one of you in the electorate personally, it’s just not possible, so we need to use the tools at our disposal to let you know that we are candidates in your electorate.

And just so you know, we agonise over it when we put flyers in letterboxes with ‘no junk mail’ signs (in fact political information is not legally ‘junk mail’, so political flyers are exempt from the junk mail regulations).

READ ALSO Feel the power: get creative on your ballot paper

So, can I ask you a favour? Please think of it from another perspective when you see our corflutes along the road or get a flyer in your letterbox. And if you see us hanging out at a shopping centre – please, stop and say hello.

All we want to do is to give you the best information we can about who we are and what we stand for, so when you cast your vote on 17 October, you are thinking outside the square and make a considered choice, instead of giving the status quo another tick for their mediocrity.

Make a change to your voting style and vote for minor parties and independents this election. They say a change is as good as a holiday, and we could all use a holiday after 2020!

Bethany Williams is a Progressives Party candidate for the seat of Yerrabi.

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russianafroman4:14 pm 20 Sep 20

Very unconvincing article Bethany. These signs are one of the worst and most heinous “traditions” of our territory. This is not about whether people find them annoying – this is about pollution of our environment. The Greens are on the right track. It’s time everyone else drops the ego and realise we CANNOT afford more pollution in the current crisis.

South Australia recently banned the use of political corflutes for future elections., not just because of the visual pollution but because of the plastic problem. As of next year, single-use plastic items (such as straws etc) are also banned in SA.

russianafroman4:15 pm 20 Sep 20

Sounds like some other folk know what they’re doing. Shame Canberra seems to be complicit in staying in the past.

I am a Rabbit™8:19 am 20 Sep 20

The Greens classify as a minor party but don’t seem to believe that spreading the equivalent of spam everywhere is a fair response to getting publicity. It’s 2020 where memes can spread across Canberra in a matter of hours – if you can’t get your messaging across, stop blaming the public and start looking at what you’re doing wrong.

russianafroman4:16 pm 20 Sep 20

Well said and straight to the point. There’s increasing animosity towards these signs, the vast majority of the people don’t support or want them.

The problem I find with corflutes and other political advertising is that it can be a bit overboard, with the same signs over and over again. Otherwise, they can be a pleasant novelty at election times.

My perspective of minor parties and independents is that they can either keep the major parties to account, or interfere in government consensus and stifle work or progress, particularly when minor parties and independents conform to particular left or right ideologies that are not neutral, moderate or centrist. There is also no significant centrist, neither left or right party holding balance like the Australian Democrats did federally in its heyday.

russianafroman4:17 pm 20 Sep 20

Forget “pleasant novelty”. It’s time people start realising how harmful these things are for the environment. Left and right governments are banning these things. It’s time the Greens take action and ban them. It seems the only good policies which get through are what the Greens lobby for, while Labor is busy sitting there building skyscrapers for the rich and playing with their tram set.

Fiona Carrick10:43 pm 19 Sep 20

Great article Bethany
Many people do not see the work volunteers do in the community. I was the president of the Woden Valley Community Council for nearly 4 years and worked very hard for our community in the evenings after work. I have held around 35 public meetings and had some significant wins for the community but most people in the electorate would not be aware of how many submissions I have written to represent the community.
Small parties and independents are not getting much coverage in the media so corflutes are an essential way of letting the community know we are an alternative.
Fiona Carrick
Independent for murrumbidgee

russianafroman4:11 pm 20 Sep 20

There’s definitely no political bias here, right? People like you are complicit on the destruction of native fauna. Your sign has zero worth in comparison to the lives of animals which eat and then choke and die thanks to your sign. Want people to know your name? Have good policies. End the animal sacrifice in the name of politics.

A defence of conflutes means being out of touch with the majority of Canberrans who hate the things. Insulting their intelligence and offending people will not win supporters. It is more likely to have the opposite effect. If you want to get elected then do things to improve the community and stand on your record.

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