Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Introducing the MP for Northcote

The 2 October edition of the Northcote Leader makes a comic connection between a life-size Dalek constructed by a local Dr Who enthusiast and a recent survey showing poor public recognition of Northcote MP, Fiona Richardson, and Darebin Mayor, Marlene Kairouz. The paper amusingly asks whether voters can tell their local politicians from the noisy galactic fiends.

For Northcote's more politically progressive residents, the front-page image of a Dalek poised menacingly over Richardson begs the classic response from Doctor Who's robotic arch enemy. However, in answer to the amusing question posed in the story, it would be far preferable to her current poor recognition if more people could actually recognise their local member and what she stands for. She could then be judged on her merits by people who too often vote simply for a generic ALP brand that no longer lives up to its traditional values.

For those unfamiliar with their local MP, Richardson is firmly on the conservative Right of the ALP, and is married to Labor State Secretary, Stephen Newnham. Newnham would be familiar to readers of the fine print on ALP propaganda campaigns. He authorised the ALP's strident anti-Greens campaign in Northcote during last year's State election, and more recently in the Albert Park byelection. Richardson's link to this misleading campaign is more than a familial one – as recently as last weekend she was displaying the propaganda in her electorate office window (bigger image). That's what she stands for, and it's high time more people were aware of it.

Update, December 2007: The Greens Liberal Deal website appears to be undergoing some sort of rebranding. Gone is the banner featuring John Howard in the Greens logo, along with, it seems, authorisation of the site by the ALP's Stephen Newnham – though as of today (16 December), the site URL is still registered to the Australian Labor Party. No matter, the banner (and an earlier version based on the above photo) and the site have been suitably archived, and a link may appear here when I have a bit of spare time to put one up. I guess the site had become somewhat embarrassing given Labor's sensible preference deal with the Greens to get rid of Howard at the 2007 Federal election. The ALP's reasoning appears to be:

  1. If we're fighting the Greens in a state election (November 2006), we should suggest a link between the Greens and the Liberals.
  2. We'd better stop that for the federal election (November 2007) in which the Greens have a deal with us for purposes of getting rid of John Howard.
  3. That achieved, let's go back to our silly propganda and start attacking the Greens again.

As well as the embarrassing URL that suggests an ongoing link between the Greens and the Liberals, the site has started posting again after its brief hiatus for the federal election. This time they're criticising Victorian Upper House MP for the Greens, Sue Pennicuik, for suggesting that not all graffiti is bad.

Is that the way to engage in political debate? Why doesn't the ALP try to win the argument instead of relying on shallow propaganda? That might actually get them more votes, but it isn't what they stand for.

Update 21 December: It appears the changes in the site were temporary. The Howard–Greens logo is back, but comments are still closed and the 'arguments' are still pitifully week. I can see why the authors are anonymous, even if the ALP's Stephen Newnham is willing to put his name to authorising the site. What does it say about the political climate in Victoria that this site isn't exposed for the sad embarrassment that it is? Who knows, that may change in coming months. A happy thought for Christmas and the New Year!

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.