Election campaigns are generally less than edifying these days, but this year’s Tasmanian battle has set new lows in terms of vacousness, lies and sheer gutlessness on the part of the key players. Yesterday’s dramas over an ALP anti-Greens flyer are a case in point and while it only 9am as I write this, I have already been approached by a number of people on Hobart’s Salamanca Place – a sort of town square – who are simply and literally shaking their heads.

The ALP, The Mercury revealed yesterday, has printed up a flyer which accuses the Greens of wanting to decriminalise use of heroin and to give the right to vote to Tasmania’s most notorious prisoners. And Labor has been using the Howard government’s favourite election tool, the automated telephone call message, to ring households around the State warning them of the Greens being wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The reaction to Labor’s dirty pool tactics by voters and even Labor candidates has been one of shock and disbelief. I did an interview on the ABC Morning program yesterday condemning Labor and within twenty minutes received a call from a prominent ALP candidate telling me they would not be distributing the anti-Green flyer. Another candidate, Ross Butler in the southern seat of Franklin has this morning told The Mercury he loathes the flyers, which are the brainchild – although perhaps you can substitute the brain part – of the ALP’s campaign – hq.

Voters are also turned off, if commentary on websites, on talkback and to me is any guide. ‘Puerile’, ‘desperate’ and ‘disgusting’ are commonly used words today.

But what is also frightening is the Greens’ reaction to the flyer. They ran scared and emphasized that they too supported the intellectually untenable policy of prohibition of illicit drugs, and that they don’t subscribe to international human rights standards that say everyone has the right to vote!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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