IN this election just past, a generation of Canberra voters went to the polls untroubled in their conscious lifetimes by a viable Liberal Party serious about winning government.
Liberal Party workers curse and swear and damn the lefty predilections of the Canberra voter. But at the end of the day a professional political outfit has to be about finding the policies to sway enough voters to win a majority of seats.
Come October, 2020, it will have been 19 years of Labor rule and, more importantly, 22 years since Kate Carnell took a winning team and policy platform to ACT voters, who rewarded her with government.
It feels as if every election the Liberals announce they won’t build something. A prison, a hospital, a tram.
They get a little bit of community response and decide that’s the only thing they’re going to campaign on.
“They came on in the same old way and we defeated them in the same old way,” said the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo.
Even someone who doesn’t bear the Liberal Party a great deal of love must hope for contested elections and the cleansing powers of a change of government.
So what’s to be done?
Firstly, the power of good candidates cannot be underestimated. Likeable people who are able and willing to talk to ordinary Canberrans are not a nice-to-have, they are a must.
Casting our eye over the election results, there are some clear lessons for the party and sitting members who can’t poll more than 0.5 of a quota are simply dead weight costing the party victory.
Here’s a list of Liberal losers the voting public clearly has no appetite for: Vicki Dunne, Steve Doszpot, Nicole Lawder and Giulia Jones.
A major party can put any average loser’s face on a poster and get pretty much the same vote as those four.
Boot ’em out next week and give whichever aspiring Liberals are next cabs off the rank four years to build a profile and, most importantly, start knocking on the doors and standing in the rain at the shopping centres. There’s no substitute for shoe leather.
It’s a shame three of them are women, but the Liberals need to run women who can convince Canberra women to vote for their party, not run screaming from narrow Catholic agendas about birth control and sex work.
In fairness, Labor needs to boot its own dead wood sooner than later, but winners can afford complacency.
Labor’s gallery of duds includes: Mick Gentleman, Joy Burch and Chris Bourke.
The fact so many frontbenchers on both sides of the aisle are clearly on the electoral nose should be a wake-up call to Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
The public has returned him because he is considered preferable to the Liberals, not out of any great enthusiasm.
As for the Liberals. If they want to go with Alistair Coe as leader, with his coterie of not-as-young-as-they used to be Young Liberals, I wish them all the best of luck. They’re going to need it.