Yesterday it happened. Not just once. Twice! I got the dreaded phone call. The phone call that strikes fear into the bravest of men. The phone call that makes babies cry out, and mothers to clutch their children closer.
I got the automated robot call that waited just long enough for me to say “Hello?” before spewing a pre-recorded political spiel down the line. Waited just long enough to ensure that I wasn’t an answering machine. Just that moment long enough to hopefully found someone who cares enough to listen all the way through to the end.
And while the dulcet tones of Fred Nile came sliding through the ear-piece like a well-greased pig heading for the trough, I was contemplating the waste of money this phone call was. The electorate of Mitchell is Liberal, VERY SAFE Liberal. 21.4% swing needed Liberal. It’s so Liberal that when you look up Liberal in the dictionary it lists Mitchell as the shining example. Wouldn’t the Christian Democratic Party be better served targeting an electorate that was more likely to be swayed?
A hypothesis was starting to crystalise in my mind when I was politely greeted by the overly-silky and audio-engineered warmth of Julie Bishop seeping into my ear, again carefully trickle-fed by the phone-robot once it was certain there was something other than an answering machine waiting. The hypothesis was forming that perhaps. just maybe, the seat of Mitchell wasn’t quite as safe as expected. Or was there something else at play? Based on the 2013 elections, Labor would have to double its primary vote to even be close to making a dent in the Liberal chokehold on Mitchell.
The hypothesis has firmed to a theory:
1) Mitchell is a very obvious feeder electorate into the North-Western Sydney bible belt – The Christian Democratic Party was clever to target this area in an effort to sway voters based on their beliefs. The effort was poorly executed, however, as most of Fred Nile’s selling points were fairly un-Christian and probably had the opposite effect.
2) The Liberal robo-call was all the standard fire-fighting spiel – not privatising Medicare, increased spending on Education, border control, blah blah. But it was the dig against “micro parties” that makes me wonder if this was less about shoring up support for the House of Representatives, and more about limiting the possible damage of parties like VoteFlux.
The micro-to-small parties know that a seat in the Senate gives them bargaining power, a handbrake on legislation and policy being made law. And the major parties know it too, and are working to discredit them. Malcolm Turnbull said “I counsel all Australians against a roll of the dice on independents or minor parties. A vote for anyone other than the libera; and national party candidates and there is a risk that Australians next week will find themselves no certainty at all about their future”. If the major parties are scared of the micro parties and independents, that in my mind is an even stronger argument that we should.
I don’t know what order I’ll be numbering the House of Representatives for my vote in Mitchell.
But I do know that I’ll be starting off with a [ 1 ] next to “VoteFlux – Upgrade Democracy” in the Senate.