At last month’s vibrant celebration of Lunar New Year in Parramatta, volunteers wearing yellow shirts were handing out balloons and pamphlets. They represented a political candidate running for the state seat of Parramatta. But for what party? An independent? A new and upcoming party trying to electrify the electorate with fresh ideas? Where was the party logo? Asking the volunteers what party they belonged to didn’t help much. One told New Matilda, "we’re whatever party you want us to be". And then it was clear: they represented NSW Labor.
Have some NSW Labor candidates forgotten which party they belong to? Is this why the advertisements for Labor candidates downplay their association with the party — and sometimes fail to mention the association at all.
Roads Minister and State Member for Granville David Borger reportedly used Post-It notes to cover up the Labor logo on his posters. And Carmel Tebbutt approved leaflets which didn’t mention her party at all.
The confusion has spread to campaign headquarters which recently sent out postal ballot papers to hundreds and thousands of households — and didn’t mention the Labor party.
Why is the ALP so assiduously removing references to the party in their advertising? Do they think voters will believe that familiar faces like Borger’s and Tebbutt’s are independents or from a minority party?
|A few candidates know where they stand. John Thain, the Labor Party candidate for Penrith, has posters that look similar to the posters NSW voters have been seeing for years.
|Since last year’s by-election win by Stuart Ayres, Penrith is a safe Liberal seat with a 16.5 per cent margin of support set to increase. This confidence is reflected Ayres’s poster tagline "Liberal for Penrith". No confusion there.
|On the other hand, Trish Doyle, the Labor candidate of the Blue Mountains isn’t making it clear which party she represents. The only hint to her ties with Labor is a very small ALP logo in the corner, drowning out by a purple background. Her opponent, Liberal candidate Roza Sage is showing her stripes with a poster very similar to Ayres’. Blue Mountains is held by narrow 11.1 per cent and is threatened by the predicted 20 per cent swing.
|Likewise the Labor candidate for Parramatta, Pierre Esber, looks a lot like he is running as an independent. His yellow and green poster design looks nothing like traditional Labor posters. The only hint is a very small red logo curled up in the corner of the poster. Labor holds Parramatta by 11.7 per cent. Maybe Esber has other things on his mind.
|Virginia Judge, the Member for Strathfield, isn’t making it easy for voters either. Her posters are green and yellow. Is she a member of the Greens — or the current Minister for Arts and Fair Trading? There’s no party logo on her poster at all — and no other indication that she is affiliated with the Labor party. Strathfield is held by the Labor party by 15.1 per cent — another marginal seat for Labor in this election.
It’s a hopeful tactic that has been adopted by these candidates but it’s unlikely to fool many voters.
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