I was reflecting on an article or two from Amanda Vanstone in the Crimes recently and since she is an opinion piece writer, not a journalist, she can express her views in any direction she likes. I am going to follow her lead. She is an unabashed Liberal and it is widely known, so why can’t I, as a Labor aficionado, do the same? She has taken to Bill Shorten so why can’t I take to Zed Seselja?
There are some interesting aspects to the ACT Liberals’ campaign this time around.
Clearly they are not serious about challenging in Fenner or Canberra because not only have they preselected low profile candidates, they have put no money into them at all. All you see is the odd corflute and the occasional appearance at a shopping centre. I got my first bit of mail from the candidate against Gai Brodtmann just the other day, a week out from the election! She told me she was a 29-year-old part-time lawyer mum and trying to buy her first home. Apart from two sentences bagging Labor, I have no idea what she stands for as an individual. Contrast that with the Libs 2nd Senate candidate who has at least been out an about, but has been starved of publicity.
No … all their money is going on Zed Seselja. Let’s examine why that would be.
Zed has held the local Liberal Party in his iron fist since taking the Assembly leadership. He has a group of lieutenants who made sure that the numbers were always there for him. His brother-in-law was his chief of staff and his mate was the Branch President, even having him on the payroll. Everyone remember the firefight between the factions in the party with Gary Kent, a former President threatening legal action and accusing some of financial mismanagement?
But Team Zed held the day and routed the unfaithful. Remember the unceremonious assassination of Gary Humphries? Orchestrated by Faction Zed.
But what policy legacies did Zed leave behind after being the Leader of the Opposition in the ACT? I can’t think of one. It was a common joke in the halls of the Assembly that Zed was asleep at the wheel arousing only when his position was under threat from within.
So Zed goes into the Big House on the Hill as a senator. And what have we heard from him since, up and until the election was called? He wants to extend Tuggeranong to the West to introduce more housing, yet no mention of any job creation opportunities. He wants to build a bridge or two across the Murrumbidgee and stuff up the Murrumbidgee River Corridor, further pollute the water, endangering the Murray River crayfish and there are only 10% of that species left in the river!
He wants to take 170 jobs out of central Canberra and take them to Gungahlin. Me-too-ism after the ACT Govt already moved people there. What about his hometown, Tuggeranong and its economic health? He is taking his electoral office to Gungahlin! So much for being a Tuggeranite!
And who can forget his unswerving support for Tony Abbott? But he’s ok to be the nodding dog behind the current PM, even though he would switch back to Tone in a heartbeat. Indeed, they share the same cheer squad, the Australian Christian Lobby, giving Zed a platform to attack the ACT Government.
Also interesting, are the posters along the highways and byways of our city. Most Lib ones are shared between Malcolm Turnbull (who is not standing here) and Zed, with an occasional sign for who?
No… this is all about Zed. He’s scared the Greens will knock him off and he has used all his factional power within the party to apply resources to his rescue.
He has even resorted to attacking the ACT Government although he is in no position to fix anything. He’s attacked the tram, he’s attacked the ACT Budget, he’s attacked the planning process. He should remember that as a Senator, he is not an opponent of the ACT Government, he’s not the Leader of the Opposition here and he should be standing up for Canberra. I just see his campaign as personality politics at its worst.
I also reckon that he will face a backlash from a number of quarters.
Firstly, the liberal leaning swingers in Tuggeranong are upset that he has abandoned them as a representative. He ran in Molonglo, outside his region of residence in the first place, then when it suited him, moved to Brindabella, the abandoned Brindabella to assassinate Gary Humphries and go to the Senate.
He has moved his office to Gungahlin and not closer to home, and he has advocated, yea promised, to move people to Gungahlin to help a flagging economy, leaving his Tuggeranong to be a continuing set of dormitory suburbs.
He will see some rusted on Libs go away from him to the 2nd candidate because of long political memories.
So now we are seeing some feverish activity and signage exhorting us to vote for Zed, who has been MIA since the last election, other than standing with the detested Tony Abbott, and now knows that he is in danger.
Well, last minute activity does not a success make. Politics is about being seen to be working, to be seen to be supportive, to be seen to exert influence in favour of your electors, and to be seen as having integrity.
When I served with Katy Gallagher and Zed for a few years, I saw that he was a shadow of hers. He was Dr No and offered no concrete alternative to any proposal before the Assembly. Nothing has changed.
If the ACT puts him back in the Senate, he’ll go back to sleep. Senator van Winkle. A nice ring to it!
Oh.. and I’m still waiting for my birthday card……