Political reporter BELINDA STRAHORN reports from the ACT election frontline…
ALL’s fair in love, war and elections… isn’t it? You know the campaign’s getting serious when parties hold their launches and never fail to miss an opportunity to sink the boot into their political opponent.
Labor has now officially launched with leader Andrew Barr drawing on light rail, renewable energy, nurse-led walk-in centres and jobs as some of its achievements and announcing an increase to utility bill concessions for low-income households if re-elected.
There were no holds barred with Liberal leader Alastair Coe’s conservative values and inexperience the main target of attack. But what’s a campaign launch with some argy bargy? No doubt the Liberals will return fire on Labor when they launch their own campaign.
MANY Canberrans are already counting down the days to the media blackout when parties can no longer bombard the airwaves with their ads spruiking slogans, promises and ideas that probably won’t be kept anyway. TV and radio ads are rolling out thick and fast. There’s an interesting contrast between the slick TV campaigns designed by advertising agencies for the Canberra Liberals compared to the low-frills, low-budget but kinda catchy commercial by the Canberra Progressives.
THE Liberals latest fundraising initiative involves a red stubby holder with the slogan “Voting out Andrew Barr, I’ll drink to that”. Not sure how many of the nation’s beer drinkers are going to cough up with the $18 to keep their beer cold.
|The education union is doing its usual bit to keep the Liberals at the bottom of the class when it comes to its assessment of education policy in the ACT. Not surprisingly the Labor-aligned union has marked down the Liberals’ performance in education policy and is advocating for another term of the Barr government. Fortunately for the Liberals, not all Canberrans are going to take notice of union propaganda.
IT manager Rattesh Gumber, has entered the electoral race, filling the gap left by dumped Liberals candidate Peter McKay. Gumber will run as a candidate in Kurrajong for the Liberals. Meantime, the Sustainable Australia Party is running candidates in all five electorates namely Paul Gabriel and Mark O’Connor in Ginninderra, Joy Angel and John Haydon in Kurrajong, Jill Mail and Geoff Buckmaster in Murrumbidgee, Bruce Willett and Andrew Clapham in Brindabella and Scott Young and John Kearsley in Yerrabi.
Independent for Yerrabi, Dr Fuxin Li, is taking some flak on Facebook. Michael Tolhurst, founder of PotPlace – the first domestic cannabis company to operate in Australia – asks “Are you an independent candidate or a candidate for the Chinese Communist Party?”. Another comment by a Hector Jones says “This guy runs the CCP endorsed Chinese language and education program in Australia. He is a CCP stooge and should not be allowed to run in the ACT election.” The comment has since been removed.
Mr Li has responded urging people to “ignore these mischievous comments” that are “really harassing and absolutely ridiculous”.
A barrage of election commitments have been made this week by all major parties. In a nutshell the Libs “declared war” on hospital wait times pledging $120 million for more surgeries, they have also promised $20 million for a new indoor sporting complex as well as a multicultural and community centre in Gungahlin, a dedicated care home for news mums with postnatal depression and more gap-free and after hours GP services.
Labor has promised more schools, this time a new $85 million high school in Taylor and a new $35 million primary school in north Gungahlin. They also want to introduce a low-interest loan scheme to make non-government schools more sustainable and invest $15 million a year for free early learning for three-year-olds.
The Greens want to make all ACT school spaces smoke free, temperature controlled and properly ventilated and the Belco Party has promised more nurses, firies, paramedics and police.
HAS Guilia Jones been caught out again? A “CityNews” reader by the name of “Spinks” says he observed the Liberal member for Murrumbdigee in her marked SUV using her mobile phone “for some minutes” while “gesticulating fiercely” with her other hand, as her vehicle moved forward, at low speed, as she approached the traffic lights at Launceston Street.
Guilia has not responded to multiple direct invitations to comment and a spokesperson for the Canberra Liberals said the party “does not respond to baseless rumours”.
However, after a recent licence suspension for speeding offences, Ms Jones was quoted as saying: “After three months of getting around on my bicycle, it’s given me some additional perspective and I’m looking forward to starting afresh”.
MEANTIME Canberrans can start voting on Monday with pre-poll centres opening across the capital on Monday (September 28). A full list of early voting centres is at elections.act.gov.au