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.
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).
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.