Crikey has taken a keen interest in Channel Seven’s election based
reality TV contest to find an Independent candidate to run in the
upcoming federal election. As part of the Sunrise program, Vote
For Me
has the potential to make the business interesting and
accessible to thousands of uninitiated Australians.

Hetty Johnston’s Vote For Me victory

Subscriber email – 26 July

Antony Green reckons Queensland child abuse campaigner Hetty
Johnston has a serious chance of being elected to the Senate and today
she was confirmed by Seven’s Vote For Me that her campaign coffers will be boosted by $10,000.

Just as Seven tries to go quiet on the whole idea after significant
political pressure was applied to 43 per cent shareholder Kerry Stokes,
the program has received another burst of publicity, partly due to
Barrie Cassidy interviewing Hetty on Insiders yesterday.

It was a fairly lame interview and we’re not surprised that Aunty has declined to put the transcript up on the Insiders website despite most other features from the program getting a guernsey.

There was Hetty claiming she only entered Vote For Me for
the extra $10,000 and additional publicity “such as appearing on this
program now”. Wouldn’t every other independent candidate love the
exposure of being interviewed on Insiders?

Then again, Hetty is a proven giant killer which again turns the
argument back to the question of whether Seven should have selected her
to back in Queensland. She already has a proven ability to generate
publicity for herself, especially on the ABC. Look no further than this
profile on Australian Story last year. Plus she has her own website promoting herself as an Independent Senate candidate.

The Sunrise website is yet to be updated with the names of the winner in each state and there is also no mention of the winners on the Seven Corprate website, even though it had a media release to announce the Vote For Me finalists on July 12. Talk about running dead!

A close political watcher explains how Seven backed away from Vote For Me:

  1. Three weeks ago Channel Seven were all over this concept, however in
    the last week they have really minimised it. Rumours abound that it was
    too late for Kerry Stokes to pull the show, but he certainly had the
    airtime and the whole thing ‘reduced’ in importance on Sunrise. There was no interviews and no going to Sydney to meet Mel and Kochy.
  2. The policy speeches of the candidates were shown very late – even
    on the Friday which was the last day before voting closes! This meant
    the person with the most friends and contacts most likely won as the
    viewers saw nothing of anybody’s speech.
  3. The $10,000 for the various state winners is not simply a $10,000
    present, but expenditure that has to be “approved” by Channel Seven for
    campaigning expenses. Is this not some sort of interference?
  4. On the program this morning David Koch said “we’ll check in on
    them from time to time”. This is certainly a far cry from the initial
    enthusiasm of trying to get the candidates up for election. To most
    people it reads of a total hand washing of the candidates and their
  5. The choice of candidates was probably a bit unfair in some
    circumstances. How on earth is a nobody supposed to complete with
    someone like Hetty Johnston who has a huge profile in Queensland? That
    selection was probably wrong given what they concept was trying to
  6. Some of the candidates belong to their own political
    organisations. Whilst this did not mean ineligibility – it sure must
    have been close. People like Hetty and some of the others may not be
    part of registered political parties but actually lead their own
    political movements – surely this was unfair to lesser known candidates
    when it came to chasing phone votes. The show was supposed to be for
    Joe Average who thought they could actually make a difference and did
    not belong to any movement.

Finally, Crikey subscriber Keith Currie finished second in Victoria and sends a big thank you to everyone who voted for him.


Crikey subscriber and Vote For Me preliminary finalist Keith Currie writes:

Hi Crikey,

Just to let you know that I am one of the Victorian preliminary finalists chosen by Channel 7 for the Vote for Me program on Sunrise.

Last Saturday I went to Canberra with all the other preliminary
finalists from each state for a think tank session. We heard from Meg
Lees about the life of a Senator. We also heard from Matthew Baird a
former Democrats President on how to run campaigns for the Senate. Lisa
Wilkinson gave us the low down on dealing with the media, and we also
got to meet some pressure groups like the Aust Nat Students,
Wildnerness Society, Nurses Federation, and even Kate Carnell from the
pro-logging fraternity. A good day in all.

Seven management gave us a document saying among other things:

“One of the claims levelled against this project is that successful
candidates will somehow be influenced by Channel Seven. One writer even
suggested you would be our puppets. Frankly, that’s an insult to your

“So we’re clear, you will be under NO obligation to us whatsoever.
Successful candidates will be running as Independents. And that means
just that – Independent.”

This is an obvious dig at Glenn Milne. I would have loved to have seen
Milne and others criticising the program come to interview some of the
candidates for the show. The young woman with four kids including one
with cerebral palsy. The small businessman from NSW claiming they are
under represented in Federal Parliament. The passion from the
Tasmanians or the doctor from Brisbane who pulled out on Saturday. Real
people with real issues and concerns.

I did not hear Milne or any of the others mention the fact that many of
our Senators today are nothing more than dinosaurs building their super
or simply time servers for their party. Milne made no mention of the
huge advantages many of these party hacks have when running for the

In fact if none of those 18 preliminary finalists on Vote For Me could
not do a better job than many of the Senators today then I will run
nude down the Bourke St Mall! Perhaps Milne should also have focused on
the fact that our chances of election against the money machine major
parties is almost zero. Certainly Antony Green could back this up.

Anyway, enough of people like Milne. My name is Keith Currie. I was
once and ALP Youth member at University some 13 years ago. I now
sometimes attend the occasional Liberal 500 Club luncheon as my best
mate is a member, and on the Young 500 Club committee for the Libs. I
have also handed out how to vote cards for a mate standing for
environment issues at the local council. So politically, I am the full

Anyway, as a keen Crikey subscriber I was hoping you could give me a
bit of a plug to the Crikey army. My election profile can be seen (as
can the other two candidates from Victoria trying for the viewers
selection to be the Vic candidate in the Senate) here:

Sunrise Vote for Me Finalists

Voting details are:
To vote for Keith call 1832 then 1902 555 015 – Or SMS ‘Keith Currie’ to 188 10 95

Friday, 23 July, (the editor’s 35th birthday) 2004 at midnight
is when voting closes so let’s all get behind Keith and have a
Crikey-backed candidate in the Victorian Senate contest. Please note
you can only vote for a finalist who is from your own state and you can
only vote once from each mobile or fixed line. Crikey has already voted
on our fixed line and mobile so we’re now calling on the 15,000-strong
Crikey army to do likewise.