28/02/2017 - 11:12

Lost day on the campaign trail

28/02/2017 - 11:12

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ANALYSIS: There used to be a golden rule in election campaigns that candidates should be seen but not heard. The public face of the party was the leader, whose commitments and comments were always carefully scripted.

Lost day on the campaign trail
Mark McGowan spoke to ‘John of Collie’ while fielding listeners’ calls at ABC radio in Bunbury. ‘John’ was actually Liberal candidate Wade De Campo. Photo: Attila Csaszar

There used to be a golden rule in election campaigns that candidates should be seen but not heard. The public face of the party was the leader, whose commitments and comments were always carefully scripted.

The challenge was to stay on message – a critical part of a disciplined campaign. The last thing a party wanted was to give their opponents a free kick.

Times have certainly changed, however, and few parties have escaped the fallout.

Labor’s hopes of putting in a strong effort in the seat of Geraldton, where the Nationals’ Paul Brown has been giving sitting Liberal MP Ian Blayney a hot time, were dashed when its candidate made some unwise observations on social media.

Fortunately the issue emerged before nominations closed and the party was able to find a substitute.

No such luck for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, however. Its candidates in North West Central and Thornlie couldn’t stomach the preference deal with the Liberals, and said so. Not good for party discipline, and they were disendorsed.

However, by then nominations had closed and the ballot papers printed, so it was too late to make any changes. As far as voters in those two seats are concerned, they will appear as One Nation candidates. We’ll never know what impact that will have on their support.

And lest the Liberals feel a bit smug, we have Wade De Campo, who is second on the party’s Legislative Council ticket for the South West region, making him odds on to be elected to the upper house.

Mr De Campo, who is prominent in local government in the South West, decided to have a bit of fun when opposition leader Mark McGowan was on ABC Radio in Bunbury, taking listeners’ calls.

Mr De Campo called in and identified himself as ‘John of Collie’. This didn’t fool an alert ABC producer who recognised his voice and outed him.

The candidate was forced to apologise, and an obviously frustrated Premier Colin Barnett was quizzed about the embarrassing gaffe while promoting the conservation of rock art on the Burrup Pensinsula. It stole the oxygen from his announcement.

The De Campo fiasco made for a day lost on the campaign trail for the Liberals, a loss the party could ill afford. 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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