Ross Fox, the squeaky clean Coalition candidate for Isaacs, faces almost certain defeat on Saturday. But that hasn’t stopped him distributing authorised glossies spruiking his dubious “green” credentials and promising a CCTV crackdown outside Noble Park’s notorious shopping centre.

In the Kermit-quoting green flyer Fox takes a sideswipe at Nick Minchin (insisting climate change is a “reality”) and shames Andrew Bolt by admitting a rainwater tank may come in handy to trap Melbourne’s “recent rains” (read Bolt’s anti-tank tirade here):

The CCTV push is a state responsibility—both Fox and Member for Dunkley Bruce Billson have been busy beating up party-neutral “community safety initiatives” with little or no Liberal branding – just take a look at the Crikey Campaign Mailbox.

Labor’s Ann Corcoran won Isaacs by a sliver in 2004 and Fox clearly hopes the gored denizens of Melbourne’s mortgage belt might tack rightwards with a bit of subtle greenwashing. Or, given the dark green hue dominating the brochure, mistake him for Greens candidate Colin Long.

This isn’t the first time Liberals have attempted to cash in on Bob Brown’s pulling power. In 2004, a scheming posse of feral blue bloods infiltrated voting booths in Melbourne Ports modeling green Ts and brandishing misleading how-to-vote cards. Bolt leapt to their support.

But this was a clear case of self-plagiarism. During the notorious 2003 Melbourne University Student Union elections the very same Libs registered a mysterious group called “The Liberal Greens” and distributed HTVs preferencing Hamish Jones, Bill Shorten’s disgraced ex-opponent in Maribyrnong. Jones’ mob went on to win the student election. Are similar HTVs being prepared for Saturday’s poll?

Fox’s brochure contains a small Liberal logo on the back page but for the most part reads like a neutral “local environment update”. There’s no reference to John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull, Tim Flannery or any other coalition acolytes. Billson seems to be down with the cops but that’s where it ends.

The spate of brochures comes as another interesting addition to the web—the Bennelong-specific johnhowardmp.com —launches with little mention of the coalition. In La Trobe, brochures pointedly fail to mention Howard. And Lindsay, well, we’ve read all about it.

Suburban Libs, reduced to the tactics of student politicians, have lost faith in the leadership group and their brand. And in this campaign an eroded brand two days out can only mean one thing—it’s time to brace for a Ruddslide.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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