What’s going on? This election campaign is being reported as a knock-down, drag-out contest between Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd. But in McMillan and across the nation unprecedented numbers of candidates are standing for election. They’re spending money and risking their deposits with very little chance of winning a seat.
Why? To demonstrate public dissatisfaction with the major parties? To promote particular personalities and view-points? To bargain preferences for promises? How much will they influence the result? More informal votes? Even more preference deals? Meanwhile, we’re told the choice is between the two men who spent the last three years trying to consign our first female prime minister to oblivion. From day one, despite the big offers he made to get the Independents on his side and form an Abbott-led minority government, Mr Abbott claimed the Gillard Government was illegitimate and demanded a new election.
Even before the 2010 election, Mr Rudd was responsible for media leaks aimed at discrediting Prime Minister Gillard. Mr Abbott’s attacks exploited community prejudices and fears, and made a mockery of parliamentary question-time and motions of ‘Matters of Public Importance’. Mr Rudd’s tactic was to cultivate friendly journalists to ensure that Ms Gillard was personally blamed for declining polls, using a small number of allies in the party to promote his line. The Gillard Government’s major reforms, in some cases achieved with Coalition support, counted for nothing in this snide media campaign. Finally a small majority of Labor MPs panicked and Ms Gillard resigned with a dignity that earned respect even from her most persistent media critics.
Posterity will give former Prime Minister Gillard credit where a great deal of credit is due. Meanwhile, Mr Rudd refuses to campaign on the Gillard Government’s achievements, and his campaign is starting to go pear-shaped. The Opposition still has not revealed much detail about its policy promises. Which of the parliamentary parties has the policies and integrity that deserve my vote? This year I think it will be the Greens.
Wilma Western, Leongatha.