On the whole, it certainly has been an interesting campaign. Here are my observations:
- Late announcements. In 2008, many candidates had announced their intentions by April-May, many announcements were held off until the close of nominations. For some candidates, that was probably just as well as a few teams found themselves losing members. Larry Whipper’s People Power, Juliet Arkwright’s Liberal team, and Ian Scandrett’s Just Fix It all started with a different lineup than had been announced in the media. Arkwright’s change was particularly strange, with four of the five members leaving the ticket by the time nominations were due.
- Little signage. Only a handful of candidates have produced corflutes and mailouts for this campaign. Fewer seem to have advertised on 2ST and in the Southern Highland News regularly. It might be a sign of the difficult financial times, but I would expect these actions as the basis of any organised and competitive political campaign.
- No communication. Only three candidates deemed it worthwhile to provide answers to the questions posed by this website, despite being given a fortnight to do so. Most days for the last month, we have received over 200 visitors to the site, so it is very surprising that candidates felt it wasn’t necessary to get their viewpoint across to that many voters. Most people seem to be finding us by Googling information about candidate policies. Aside from that, very few have websites or social media profiles and I haven’t glimpsed a single internet ad for any of them. As with the point above, it certainly seems an odd way to campaign.
- Contradictions. There were a number of teams promising austerity and financial responsibility on one hand but offering big expensive projects on the other. Other candidates say they oppose inappropriate development but supported things like Mittagong Central. Some say they support jobs in the area but oppose developments like K-Mart and the Wilton Airport proposal. Yet another promises ethical governance but has been implicated in grubby politics in pushing through the Moss Vale Aquatic Centre development so close to an election. And finally, others still promise to be financially responsible but will tear up contracts to build that same pool, possibly resulting in payouts to the contracted companies and resulting in no net improvement to facilities but at the same cost as the original deal.
Still not sure who to vote for? Don’t worry, neither are we. On the one hand, I like the proposals for a regional theatre and gallery, but I can’t support teams that support those things because they also promise to be frugal. Well, you can’t be both. I didn’t agree with the Moss Vale Aquatic Centre development, but what is the point in just saying ‘no’ when the pool has already been destroyed? Isn’t it better to build the facility as planned since it will offer better amenities than the old pool and certainly more than the hole in the ground there right now. I agree with suggestions to lure a university campus to the region, but with the University of Wollongong stating it has no interest in such a proposal, I wonder whether it will ever happen.