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Election 2019 wrap up - Gilmore

Eurobodalla Shire straddles the 2 Federal electorates of Gilmore and Eden Monaro and in both electorates the Greens vote surpassed the NSW state average. In the wake of the 2019 Federal election Greens candidate for Gilmore Carmel McCallum penned these words below.

"It is now four whole days since we all felt the total let-down from what unfolded on our television screens.  It seemed unbelievable, but as the days have passed, and we have watched and heard all the post mortems on The Drum, and other tv and radio programs, it is evident that people voted for their own self-interest, and that is about individualism, encouraged by John Howard, and all COALition governments since, instead of an unselfish vote for other people and the planet.


However, our votes helped change the colour of Gilmore, the only electorate to change across the nation, from Liberal to Labor, at least I think so, so far.  This couldn’t have happened without so many people putting their hands up to do all the pre-polling, and there was far too much required; the polling booths on the election day; the challenging job of rostering and organising polling booths; erecting corflutes in only legal places (we had an increased number of requests this time); setting up and taking down of pre-polling booths (Terry Barratt deserves a special mention here as he did it every day and for the state election also); and letterboxing (which I’m sure had an influence, as our votes were up in places that were covered).


Following on from the state election, we knew that it was going to be a challenge to get our usual helpers and organisers to commit, as everyone was tired and fed up with the antics of politics and the disappointment of that outcome also.  But - and I don’t like starting a sentence with ‘but’- you all stepped up to the plate and we were off again, and with lots of new volunteers coming to us through the Greens NSW website.  It was terrific that all this organisation was happening behind the scenes, as the profile of Gilmore meant that there was no time for Bonnie or me to be helping with the administration.


The campaign was gruelling, to say the least, with twelve forums, other launches such as Change the Rules, Fair Funding Now, and other events.  With the national spotlight on Gilmore, though we didn't even rate a mention on 7.30 Report, SBS, SMH or The Guardian, there was a demand on being a candidate which I had not encountered in any of the other three times running as a candidate, even though they were all marginal seats.  They all called it either a three- or four-cornered competition, but as it turned out, The Greens was the fourth corner!


The media is culpable in the national results.  I have already asked ABC Illawarra to give me the tally of the Gilmore candidates’ interviews or media inclusions, and I already know that the Greens candidate will come up with a zilch score.  We already contacted SBS, and have yet to contact Sydney ABC, to confront them about their partial coverage of the election.  I went on Paul Murray Live- on Skynews- for the first time, and it was a winner, as it is broadcast across Australia in all the regions and a good chance to show people what great policies The Greens have on offer.  We did manage to have a few grabs on WIN Wollongong, some beneficial, but our best publicity.  I had a letter about One Nation and guns, and we managed to get an article about Katrina Hodgkinson being a lobbyist, published in the South Coast Register, in print and online.  We had countless letters from constituents and questionnaires. 


The stall in Jellybean Park was a great way to promote us and would be good to have more elsewhere in the electorate next time.  We plan to continue this to keep up a profile, especially with the upcoming local government election in September, 2020.  We met with many people and organisations and had a very pertinent meeting with the Jerrinja people, at Orient Point.  We must continue to nurture this relationship.


We decided to rent a shopfront for three weeks in the lead-up to the election, and for less than the price of one half-page ad in the South Coast Register, this proved to be a highlight, as a meeting place, a drop-in opportunity for prospective voters and for having a workplace.  It certainly helped liven up Berry Street!  It was the most colourful and really looked like a campaign headquarters.


Anyway, we have congratulated Fiona Phillips for her success, and I am sure she will make a good and very hard-working local member.  We must also make sure that we support any good work and bring issues to her attention that we see as high priority for Gilmore, especially rivers, native-forest logging and renewable energy.  Not being in government, we won’t get the Renewable Hub that Labor promised, but maybe we can all work towards creating a benchmark in this arena, regardless.  It is sad that even being a very good local member cannot give any guarantee of retaining your seat, such as for Susan Templeman, in Macquarie.


Another very positive item of business is our decision to have a paid position for a campaign manager.  It was great having Bonnie Cassen as campaign manager, doing an amazing amount of work, having a great knowledge of social media, print and digital media, and keeping an overall eye on all activities of the campaign.  Bonnie worked really hard with a couple of almost all-nighters, and putting in way more hours than for which she was paid, travelling up and down the coast and being there at all those forums down south as well as in the north. Bonnie’s sons will be glad to have her back, so I hope they appreciate their mum even more than before.


Of course, gratitude has to go to Barry Spooner, who as treasurer, paid the bills and had the worry of extracting the money from NSW Greens central accounting system, which can be a bit of a challenge, to say the least, but means ultimately that we have less to worry about in the end.


Things haven’t slowed down a lot, as I had a radio program on Sunday, Change the Rules barbecue on Monday, meeting with my campaign manager, Bonnie, yesterday, and stocking up the larder and getting a long-overdue haircut today, whilst attending to the build-up of washing as well.  Life goes on, but catching up is almost as exhausting.


I hope, next week, to go to Canberra and see Margaret Perger, our valuable Greens member from Moruya, who was air-lifted to Canberra on the Tuesday after Easter, following a terrible car crash.  If anyone wants to join me, let me know.  Not having Margaret Perger, who supported me in the south in 2016, was something valuable which we missed this time. 


On a positive note, I lost eight kilos, so a good recommendation as a weight-loss program for whoever wants to run next time.  The other positive is that we kept out the ‘lobbyist-on-leave’, the Nationals candidate, and that’s a real plus, except that she, and Warren Mundine, have both said they would be back to contest the seat next time."

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