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

Bethany Williams 18 September 2020 57

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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57 Responses to If you’re complaining about corflutes, spare a thought for the minor parties
russianafroman russianafroman 4:14 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.

maxblues maxblues 9:50 am 20 Sep 20

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.

    russianafroman russianafroman 4:15 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.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 9:19 am 20 Sep 20

Where do all the corflutes go after the election ?? Are they recyclable

I am a Rabbit™ 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.

    russianafroman russianafroman 4:16 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.

Darron Marks Darron Marks 12:52 am 20 Sep 20

It is just another example of how for many people they have switched off politics entirely.

And how the massive $$ investment in a corflute, is about the only interaction many of these candidates will ever have with people in their electorate.

Very few MLA's actually do anything for their respective electorates outside of photo ops and door knocking at election time.

If this is the first time you have ever seen this prospective MLA. You need to ask where have they been up until this moment ?

    Ric Hingee Ric Hingee 8:23 pm 24 Sep 20

    Bethany Williams The minority parties and independents needed to find common ground and run as a team. Otherwise they are probably wasting their time and effort.

    Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 9:56 pm 24 Sep 20

    Ric Hingee that’s something that would be AMAZING.....if it was able to happen! It’s been floated before, but the issue is that minor parties and indies put blood, sweat and tears creating their respective parties/campaigns, and they just aren’t prepared to give up their names and identities. There’s probably other reasons why it hasn’t happened, but while it sounds like a completely sensible idea, the logistics of it are almost insurmountable. So until something magical happens, we will just keep trying to convince voters to vote for us instead of the majors! If a few of us get elected, it’ll create a diverse cross bench, and the government will be forced to pick up its act.

    Ric Hingee Ric Hingee 11:30 am 25 Sep 20

    Bethany Williams I wish you the best of luck. There are so many areas of general community interest which could be addressed by a common approach such as mental health, youth unemployment, youth homelessness, the environment, etc which the big parties have been more or less ignoring. I majored in Economics and Politics at the ANU, worked with numbers of Commonwealth Ministers, and helped set up a community-oriented Party (and was its inaugural President) some 11 years ago which is still running, but faces the same problems as you will in the ACT. I have tried to get Independents and minor parties, including discussing the issue personally with Bill Stefaniac of the Belco Party, to no avail. Self, rather than common interest, seems to prevail as you say.

    Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 11:40 am 25 Sep 20

    Ric Hingee it’s a particular frustration of mine, because I agree that the party system is broken. Self-interest, power and ego gets in the way of purpose. The Australian Progressives have reached out to other minor parties and independents in the past to see if it was something that could be achieved, but ultimately, each party has put so much effort into becoming established, that merging is not very palatable.

    I don’t have the answer, so I’m going with the vehicle that walks the fine line between maintaining my voice and values (minor party), which still provides a party behind me to help with voter recognition.

    I’m just so frustrated with the political system overall, which is why I want to get involved in politics. We have so many problems to deal with (climate change, corruption, neoliberalism and the rise of the far right) that I just want to do whatever I can to help fight the good fight!

steve2020 steve2020 11:53 pm 19 Sep 20

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.

    russianafroman russianafroman 4:17 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.

Mark Scarborough Mark Scarborough 11:02 pm 19 Sep 20

Get involved in your community, do positive things and build your reputation and recognition that way. A corflute does not tell me about you or your views or policies. Ban the corflute.

Fiona Carrick Fiona Carrick 10:43 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

    russianafroman russianafroman 4:11 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.

Chris Banks Chris Banks 8:28 pm 19 Sep 20

If only any of the corflutes actually provided us with any information about what any of them stand for, besides "Gooderer and Betterer".

Rainer N Palma Busacker Rainer N Palma Busacker 7:05 pm 19 Sep 20

A waste of funds, get out there and meet the people.

On the other hand it's helping the local printer.

Acton Acton 6:55 pm 19 Sep 20

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.

Rob Long Rob Long 5:36 pm 19 Sep 20

Corflutes should be made illegal

Lorraine Marsh Lorraine Marsh 5:13 pm 19 Sep 20

Why should we tax payers complain about politicans wasting money?

I don't want to see my taxes being wasted.

    Charles Nicol Ironside Charles Nicol Ironside 5:45 pm 19 Sep 20

    umm, guess who is paying for this waste of money? Ultimately, it all comes from the taxpayer

Simon Ollenbach Simon Ollenbach 3:33 pm 19 Sep 20

Ban them. They are a dangerous distraction.

Anthony Grice Anthony Grice 1:54 pm 19 Sep 20

The complaints are about the quantity... Not quality.. FFS I don't need to see three of the candidate

Brad Rogers Brad Rogers 1:32 pm 19 Sep 20

Well this is why ALL political advertising should be banned, and each party / independent could be given one page of their own, at random order in an official AEC voter catalogue. Released in pdf, paper and audible formats for accessibility. A different edition for each electorate.

This way, we can level the playing field. The system is currently skewed towards the cashed up major parties! It's about time our elections were won on merit, not bank balance!

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 1:37 pm 19 Sep 20

    How is the playing field not level now?

    All parties have the same cap they can spend.

    Parties get around $8 per vote they get

    There is no ‘cashed up’ parties - just parties that have fund raised to the cap allowed.

    Robert Knight - Canberra Progressives Robert Knight - Canberra Progressives 3:27 pm 19 Sep 20

    Brenton Higgins that’s just spin. The system is rigged in favour of the big parties, by the big parties. The spending cap of $42,750 for each candidate is absurd if you’re talking about an independent, or minor party who may be looking at bringing no more than a few thousand dollars to the table per candidate.

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 1:22 pm 20 Sep 20

    How is that spin? It’s facts. Noticed you didn’t answer the question either - guess you really are a politician in training!

Mark Goodman Mark Goodman 1:13 pm 19 Sep 20

Canberra could do a pilot program for Australia. All voters put aside their L or L allegiance and vote independents in.

Lee Lee Lee Lee 11:02 am 19 Sep 20

If you're a small party innovate and do things differently! That's what would get my attention not signs everywhere that make me angry and therefore less likely to vote for them...

Ella Factor Ella Factor 10:38 am 19 Sep 20

Every party has the same cap on what they can spend, it’s not different for small or large parties

In terms of access to that much money - well it comes from donations - I guess more people in the community choose to donate to some parties than others - so is the definition of a small party simply the parties that receive fewer donations?

So is the actual problem for small parties that they are not popular enough to be large parties? And if they were popular, they’d then be large parties not small?

The logic of this whinge is somewhat problematic 🤷‍♀️

**disclaimer, I donate to Labor, not to any small parties 🤓

    Robert Knight - Canberra Progressives Robert Knight - Canberra Progressives 3:24 pm 19 Sep 20

    Ella Factor the logic of this ‘whinge’ is it comes as a result of the behaviour of the major parties and their preponderance to completely bombard the electorate with roadside advertising which is almost universally despised.

    And sure, there’s obviously quite a lot of people who donate their own money to each of the majors, but the lion’s share comes from large organisations and questionable sources such as gambling - hello Labor club.

    A two party dominance of our politics is a bad thing. It reduces discourse to tit for tat point scoring and allows vested interests greater influence as they have a smaller target through which to curry favour via the mechanism of donations and other influences.

    It’s time for this unhealthy monopolisation of our democracy to be taken down a peg, and that’s the point of this article.

    Ric Hingee Ric Hingee 8:26 pm 24 Sep 20

    Ella - I am surprised you have any money to donate to Labor after paying all the excessive taxes, charges and rates that the Barr Government has imposed over past years.

Dragan Gluhović Dragan Gluhović 10:32 am 19 Sep 20

It's too much, but I think in Gunghalin area nobody can beat Krishna with number of corflutes his team put around 😂😂😀. If pamphlets and corflutes are only way to promote candidates that's not good enough, we need to see some actions, prove yourself.

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