During the 2013 Federal Election campaign I stood as a ‘climate emergency’ independent in the seat of Gippsland. My campaign manager and I had big hopes that a 15 second TV advertisement would alert the voting public of Gippsland to the dangers of climate change and the offer of renewable energy as a partial, but attractive, solution to the ‘climate emergency’. It was to be the key part of my ‘Vote Climate Vote Solar’ campaign. But the campaign was stressed from day one with having to collect 100 nominator’s signatures (doubled from the previous election) and putting up a $1000 bond (also doubled). My finances were strictly limited as I had recently retired and was in the process of downsizing from my place in Ensay to a unit in Bairnsdale.
The plan was to collect substantial donations from a dozen or so solar installation businesses and, in anticipation of reasonable funding, we went ahead to have the advert made. For this there was little change out of another $1000. Our fundraising hit a ‘brick wall’ when we received only one donation from our intended sources. With the advertisement made there was no choice but to scrape together as many funds as possible to run the ad. The reality was that for another $1000 the only part of the viewing day we could get any decent amount of air time was to run the ad in the ‘off-peak’ (middle of the day) with a small number in ‘shoulder’ (early morning, late evening) and none in ‘peak’ viewing time. Had we chosen to run the ad in the ‘peak’ we would have had less than 4 minutes of viewing time in total spread over 3 weeks. This was all on one channel only. (Hardly comparable with the millions poured into the campaign by Clive Palmer. The Palmer party advertising blitz must be considered a success. By doing so he ‘bought’ his own seat in the lower house and 3 seats in the senate. In Gippsland the PUP candidate from the Gold Coast achieved the magical 4%)
So basically the ‘Vote Climate Vote Solar’ ad appeared to be a failure. However an analysis of my voting results booth by booth indicated otherwise. Apart from 2 local booths, where I was well known, my best performances were with hospitals and retirement villages – all but one returning above the 4% needed for Electoral Office funding. I concluded that these were the booths where the advert would most likely have been seen. Unfortunately my overall performance was just 2.25% still a long way from the 4% and much further still from the target needed to make the sitting member sit up and take notice – at least 10%. One wonders if we had been able to run the advert for at least 4 minutes in peak viewing time and as a luxury, some time on the other 2 local channels, how different the result would have been. Just a tiny sniff of the funds that Clive had at his disposal might have done the trick.