Friday, March 30, 2012

Election Fatigue

I admit it. I have no interest in the upcoming Queensland Local Government elections. I don’t know if it’s election fatigue, the relative lack of excitement of local government in general, or the underwhelming nature of the candidates, but right now, I’d be hard pressed to rouse a skerrick of interest.

I suspect I’m not the only one. My partner asked me yesterday who the ALP candidate for Brisbane City Council Mayor is. I answered that it was Ray Smith, who’d been on Brisbane’s 612ABC’s breakfast show in the past few days. Funny thing is, I remember that he was on radio, not from actually noting anything that he said on air, but because I’d noticed it on Twitter.

Then last night, Mr Smith announced via Twitter (@RaySmith4Mayor) that he was campaigning with Kevin Rudd (@KRuddMP) at Garden City Shopping Centre, Mount Gravatt. That stuck in my mind because yesterday was the opening of the extension at Westfield Carindale, just ten minutes away, and every man and his dog (and cat and bird) were at Carindale. Perhaps Mr Smith is dodging Westfield Carindale because he opposes paid parking, which Westfield Carindale is about to introduce.

The thing is, I know that Ray Smith is running for Mayor, representing the ALP. I cannot tell you a single thing about the man, or his policies, or his party’s policies, other than that he opposes paid parking in shopping centres.

Off to Google I went, where I found his website .

There are four policies listed under the ambiguous title of Get Active, although there are more suggested in the media releases on his website. Four policies seems like a fairly thin platform, and “Get Active” sounds like a slogan for a gym, not a Mayoral candidate.

So I think can assume something else about Mr Smith. He’s getting bad campaign advice.

Mr Smith’s opposition is the incumbent Ray Quirk, who replaced Premier Campbell Newman about a year ago. Lord Mayor Quirk has worked hard to lift his profile above that of, well, undercoat. I guess the campaign worked, in so much as I now know his name. But ask me anything at all about the man, his achievements as a Councillor and Lord Mayor, his background, his policies…I simply don’t know. Or care. As Campbell Newman’s successor, Graham Quirk is an LNP councillor, but I don’t know what that means for a local councillor or Mayor.

His website [ ] trumpets a few achievements: roadworks is big, a new park is planned for the old Milton Tennis Centre site, and there’s a bikeway…in case you need somewhere to ride one of Former-Lord-Mayor-Campbell-Newman’s under-utilised yellow CityCycles. They make interesting urban sculptures when lined up in the racks. Honestly though, I can’t see anything there that is above and beyond what you’d expect of a Mayor of a decent sized city. If I was doing a Performance Review, I’d have to say he performed to expectations, but not beyond them. No performance-based bonus for you this year, Mr Quirk!

Closer to home, he’s opened the new Carindale Library. Forgive me if I don’t get excited; he had no choice, as the old library was located in the redeveloped Westfield Shopping Centre, and if I’m not mistaken, the old one was demolished to make way for more retail temptations. I’m pretty excited that the Library has been upgraded, and will be lending fully loaded iPads though!

Check out Mr Quirk’s website and you’ll find an online facility for requesting a Birthday e-card from the Lord Mayor of Brisbane. It’s one of the more naff ideas I’ve seen lately. Of more use is the online Fix-O-Gram, yet these online facilities would most likely be continued regardless of who the mayor is.

Does the Mayor not see a connection between his website and his campaign for re-election?

The whole Mayoral election doesn’t stop with just the two major parties. There are five candidates chasing the Mayor’s gig: Most high profile of all five Candidates is former Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, running for the Greens. His page on the Greens website  lists a masterful five policies, which are a little more innovative than those of the two major party candidates. It seems to be more about people and less about “stuff”.

Rory Killen appeared to be running as an independent, but he’s not. It looks as though he’s running for the Australian Sex Party, which is why his name is familiar; he ran for them in Victoria last year too. At just 27, he’s surprisingly experienced at campaigning – but what does the Sex Party have to offer a local council? If this guy is serious about forging a career in politics, he needs to get seriously away from the Sex Party. Rightly or wrongly, the party name alone robs candidates of credibility.

Chris Carson is running as an independent. He’s largely unknown, and seems determined to stay that way.

And then there’s my local council ward. Our current councillor is Adrian Schrinner, an up-and-coming LNP man. I didn’t know who was running against him, or even if he had an opponent. So again, I went Googling. There is an ALP candidate in Chandler – Liz Starr – but Liz isn’t listed on Ray Smith’s website as part of his team.

Is that an oversight, or is Ms Starr an ALP candidate who is not part of Mr Smith’s Team?

I know we’re still several weeks away from the election, and just past the State Election, but really. Looking at the five Mayoral candidates and the two candidates in my ward, I wonder if they’re any more engaged than the public is. The general level of interest is incredibly low, and the degree of knowledge is even lower.

The sheer intensity of last week’s state election campaigns is a hard act to follow. If these candidates don’t lift their respective efforts, we might as well do away with local government completely.


  1. My family would normally be calling for medical assistance if I expressed no interest in an election. But this time round, in Division 10 in Logan, both my local councillor and the mayor have been elected unopposed.

    Mrs Fitz and I don't even have to attend a polling booth on April 28. Kinda relieved, really.

  2. Lucky you. When my family reads this, they probably will call for medical assistance!

  3. Hehe I'm Rory Killen - no way! Partisan statement, sure, but the Sex Party is the future of progressive politics. If I wanted a career in politics I'd've joined Labor or the LNP... but I don't want a career, I want to champion what I believe in.

    Too hard to believe? xx Rory

  4. In the absence of the major parties, the Sex Party flies the flag for many progressive positions, but you must admit that while calling a party the Sex Party has generated plenty of interest, it lacks gravitas and credibility. Thanks for dipping you toe in; keep thinking, keep debating. Good luck. :)

  5. I think the media needs to better cover these local elections, one hardly hears from any of the candidates.

  6. Thanks Sal! Hope we get you excited about the Lord Mayor competition before April 28 anyway :P though I can totally understand voter (and candidate!) fatigue at this point.

    Poor South Brisbane...

    xx Rory