How could five candidates so effectively lobotomise the electors of the Federal seat of Gippsland? Easy, just subject us to arrant nonsense, unrealisable promises, pious platitudes and a fusillade of poorly crafted television advertisements pedalling half truths, and often containing endorsements by either under-rehearsed electors, or ear-ringed spiky-haired bogans who graduated from the Kyle Sandilands School of Charm.

Amidst the campaign dross some gems have emerged…

The best riposte of the campaign came from the ALP’s Darren “Foghorn” McCubbin, who likened the battle to save the heritage listed Traralgon Post office from being converted into a night club to the Tampa crisis — calling it “post boxes overboard”. It got a few laughs at a candidate’s forum much to the embarrassment of the Liberal’s Rohan Fitzgerald who has bored the rest of the electorate with his stridency on the issue which was solely manufactured to attract votes in the ALP heartland of the Latrobe Valley.

The best dummy spits came from “battling” Ben Buckley at forums and on radio, especially his statements that we do not live in a democracy. The fact is we live here on earth but Ben inhabits a planet in a place far, far away and in another dimension.

It’s a three way tie for the worst television advertising shared by the Liberals banging on about petrol featuring citizens looking like stunned mullets swimming in a sea of political propaganda; the ALP blaming the Nats for school closures, job losses ad infinitum during the Kennett years; and finally the anti alco-pops tax ad funded by the Independent Distillers, notable for featuring bad acting by a flannelette-shirted, Blundstone-booted bozo wielding a log splitter with a ute in the background — jeez, that will be popular in the timber towns.

The award for “sheer bastardry” has to go to the Rural Press Club of Victoria who decided, in the interests of free speech, not to invite the Greens candidate, Dr McKelvie or the Liberty and Democracy Party’s Ben Buckley to a candidates’ forum last week. As a caller to ABC radio pointed out, for an organisation supposedly committed to “excellence in journalism” the decision to limit the forum to the major party candidates said more about the Rural Press Club and its commitment to democratic debate than anything else.

And from his Bairnsdale bunker on Main Street, Independent politician Craig Ingram, the MLA for the state seat of East Gippsland, known for his visceral hatred of the National Party (which is reciprocated on its part) has called on electors to vote either Liberal or Labor as the only way of affecting lasting benefits for the electorate. One wonders if Senator Bill Heffernan, who so assiduously courted Ingram to stand for the seat, has had a hand in this piece of political mischief.

After this orgy of parochialism, lame jokes (Prime Minister Mr Dudd), p-ss weak TV ads, and a plague of Federal Ministers and shadow spokespeople visited upon us the result will be a solid win for the Nationals’ Darren Chester this coming Saturday.

Peter Fray

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