Notes on the East Gippsland Shire Election 

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Tired after regularly standing as a candidate in elections over the last 8 years I only decided at the last moment to stand again in local council elections. My earlier Federal Election campaign had been both exhausting and a financial disaster. So I decided to run a low key, low cost campaign. The latter part was easier as beyond my deposit expenditure was nil. Also I put out a single press release compared with more than a dozen at the Federal Election. The release disappeared although it may have got some column inches in the Bairnsdale Advertiser. The social media was my only other outlet.

I ran a ‘modest’ 200 word promo for the postal ballot pack emphasizing community energy projects and the path to 100% renewable energy. I also mentioned my previous ‘Vote Climate Vote Solar’ campaigns and noted that only one other candidate – Catherine Pirrie of Mallacoota – mentioned climate change. When the number of candidates was declared, originally 40 but then 39, it became obvious that only a small fraction of the electorate was going to read the 8000 odd words from candidates in the ballot pack. The drawing of the ballot, where I was placed in the lower middle of the Melbourne Cup bunch confirmed that the odds for me of even polling decently were very long. This was compounded by the fact that there was some big money being expended on the campaign.

My sole media release asked all the candidates to sign a ‘Science Pledge’. Basically it wanted (and wants) decisions to be based on science and evidence and not on personal opinion, political objectives, ideological positions or economic interests. The pledge was signed by six candidates including yours truly. Unfortunately they all received between 1% and 3% of the vote and none were elected. It may be opportune to try the new councillors with the pledge again. At least two appear sympathetic.

Of the elected members Ben Buckley of Benambra got the ‘larrikin’ vote and easily topped the (formal) poll. This was quite predictable as he had been featuring on the front page of the local papers for the last 2 months. Unfortunately he has still to come to grips with the climate issue and like most of the others elected fails to understand the greenhouse effect. (In this he is no different from our state and federal representatives.) Top of the large field was the informal vote at 12.5% followed by the larrikin and the donkey vote; obviously it’s time for the introduction of optional preferences.

It is also clear that the vast majority of the local population have no idea of the impending climate disaster we are facing. The status quo, the lack of science education and the power of a bland media remains omnipotent. I suspect even few strong climate change sympathisers have any idea of what awaits us – as early as this summer but definitely within the next 10 or 15 years. It has become quite obvious that my election candidacy over the last 8 years has had minimal impact. It is time to redirect my energy and limited finances through other channels.