The recently concluded Queensland election campaign was massively rigged against independent candidates like myself and the Greens. Not entirely unexpectedly, my vote was low.
My vote was
162 votes or 0.65% of the 25,092 formal votes cast as of Sunday 29 March. Such a vote was not to be entirely unexpected in the circumstances, given that I had been given almost no media exposure. Consequently few voters would have known anything about me.
At the 'meet the candidates' night held on the Monday before the elections, a member of the audience told me that he considered none of the candidates that had spoken that night, myself included worthy of his vote.
I would certainly have been interested to know how he felt I failed to satisfy his criteria, but never got the chance to find out. If there was nothing I could have done, then I would have liked to have asked him, why he didn't stand himself.
Indeed, that is precisely why I stood. If there had been one other candidate in my own electorate, who had stood for the goals I believed to be important and who had a realistic perspective of how to bring about those goals, then I would have gladly thrown my weight behind such a candidate.
However, there haven't been such candidates for many years in my electorate. That is why I decided to run for office myself, firstly a year ago, when I stood for lord Mayor of Brisbane and, secondly, in the state election campaign.
After I nominated I learnt of a most impressive independent candidate, who was also standing for Mount Cooth-tha. He was Dave Zwolenski. However, as I put to him, in a discussion on Thursday 19 March#main-fn1">1 his own platform of requiring strict honesty on the part of all elected representatives, as laudable as it was, struck me insufficient -- a point which he did not reject out of hand.
My only substantial media coverage, was one interview lasting five minutes on 4ZZZ.
The ABC's Brisbane local radio station ignored my requests to be interviews or to use any of my media releases.
On one occasion, I was allowed to tell ABC listeners that there was a 'meet the candidate' night in the Mount Coot-tha electorate, but was cut off before being given the opportunity to say anything substantial about myself. That was evidently deemed by the managers to be my full quota of exposure on the ABC.
My only other exposure was on Friday 13 March when, after my sending a number of e-mails and having made several more phone calls, ABC presenter Madonna King put to state Treasurer Andrew Fraser, against whom I was standing in Mount Coot-tha, a question from me: would he commit himself to not privatising further Government owned assets?
Mr Fraser effortlessly brushed it off with a predictably ambiguous response. He claimed that the Government had no plans to privatise any more assets and that he was ideologically opposed to privatisation. In spite of having a considerable amount of material from me, that she could have used to follow up that question, Madonna King failed to use it.
Andrew Fraser had also told listeners that he had written what he told them to me in a letter.
However, when I received that letter later the same day electronically, I found what it said to be substantially different to what Mr Fraser had told listeners. However, my requests to have air time to point that out and to properly follow up on his inadequate answers to my questions were ignored.
The ABC's treatment of myself, other independent candidates and the Greens will be more fully explored in another article.
I managed to distribute about roughly 1,400 brochures (I never accurately counted them), with, perhaps 600 being handed out in person and the rest put, mostly on the Friday night just before the elections, in letterboxes.
I also created a survey which I sent to all candidates. I published all responses and comments on this web site, but failed to get even one Labor or LNP candidate to respond. A number of Greens and independents did respond.
The ABC ignored my requests to publicise that survey.
In spite of my own low vote, this campaign, like my campaign of a year ago for Lord Mayor of Brisbane, was a valuable learning experience of which I will be writing more.
I have every intention of standing next time and no intention of ceasing my political activism in the meantime. Please stay tuned.
The original title of this article was "Reflections on my election campaign" - JS