A walk in the Park: episode two

This post exists for the benefit of a comments contributor called "Vic Park local", who has been providing excellent updates on the campaign for the Victoria Park by-election in Western Australia while the Poll Bludger’s attention has been elsewhere. His latest contribution expresses concern that the thread is about to drop off the bottom of the front page, and that this might defeat the purpose of further updates. VPL, and anyone else who wishes to join in, is invited to make himself at home in this new-and-improved location. The Poll Bludger might not have anything further to say on the by-election until polling day next Saturday, when the usual live coverage will be provided. In other news, this site’s silence surrounding the Tasmanian election will finally be broken over the weekend.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

40 comments on “A walk in the Park: episode two”

  1. I found this site on searching for information about this election while bored at work. Glad to finally find a discussion site about it! You’d think with it being the ex-Premier’s seat, people would take more of an interest, but it seems otherwise.

    In just the last three days, I have been hit with Labor, Liberal, Socialist Alliance and one of the Independents, and I’d received other material before. My thoughts –

    * Labor’s Ben Wyatt seems to be riding in on others shoulders and I don’t know what HE will do for our electorate.
    * Liberals don’t seem to have much of a campaign. I attended a public meeting a while ago and heard nothing I haven’t heard before – mostly about crime.
    * Labor and Liberal have made crime an issue when it is a marginal issue in the community. We all want to be safe but when both parties have made it their core campaign, and both have in the last 10 years had 5 years each to fix it, I’m sceptical.

    * The Greens – Where are they?! They have put up possibly the best choice ever for local member (I’ve met her in times past) but we have no idea out here what she is campaigning on.

    * Independents – I’ve only heard from one, Andrew Owens. His flyer and website seem to suggest a breath of fresh air and the Canning Examiner article yesterday on public transport hit home for me as I have two teenage children. I’d like to see him do well. Where are the others though? The only thing I know about Mike Ward is his contributions to the West, and I’ve never heard of the other one (I didn’t even know she was One Nation until hitting this site).

    * Socialist Alliance – I can’t even read their flyer. I thought it was one of those home gardening junk mails at first.

    * One Nation – Haven’t heard from them, don’t want them.

    * Daylight Saving – If they made a commitment to sort out weeknight shopping hours I might be interested, but they seem like a one-issue party purely for protest value.

    * CDP and Family First – Not a Christian and even my Christian friends are voting for other candidates, so not interested.

    I’m looking forward to this “debate” (actually a series of short presentations with some questions) in Bentley next week – it’ll probably help decide who I vote for. I agree with Vic Park Local about many of the local issues raised in the previous post – especially underground power, the local services and the halfway houses.

  2. Hooray – we have a new home!
    Thanks PB!
    Apart from my previous comments re: material from the candidates I agree with many of Adrian’s comments above. I too am a little surprised this by-election isn’t getting the publicity its deserves – but then again I am an election tragic.
    Further to Adrian’s post I repeat my previous comments re: Wyatt – he has some very impressive credentials. However, I agree with Adrian and in keeping with my previous comments that I still don’t really know what he means with his slogan “new ideas, local values” – I haven’t seen any sign of either.
    I disagree re: the Stevenson campaign. Considering Vic Park is a very safe (I think 13% margin or so) ALP seat I am surprised the Libs campaign is even committing the resources they have (esp. given the party’s parlous finances). I do, however, think they have a strong local candidate and have every chance of improving their position – but it would take a miracle to win it. I think that the strength of candidate and campaign is much stronger than the Fearis previous effort.
    As I’ve previously said – I definitely agree with Adrian re: crime. While it is an important issue it isn’t likely to swing votes – both candidates are going hard on it ‘though but I think the level of cynicism out there is enough to ensure virtually no-one votes on this issue alone.
    Unless something untoward happens I’ll see you guys at the ‘debate’ (Adrian – you mentioned something about the format, do you know how it will run? If I were running it I’d have a 5 min. max. opening statement from each candidate in either ballot or random order – then open it up for questions from the floor).

  3. it looks like some of the candidates have idea for local issues and are making commitments to them, but they’re just not getting any local media coverage. unfortunately that’s what happens when you have a cenmtralised community newspaper group that is more interested in running a story on a cat stuck in a tree than local politics.

    how can infill sewerage, victoria park train station and bentley hospital issues not be worth covering in the local newspaper? bruce stevenson is making commitments on local issues as is andrew owens based on his website. it’s as if the local papers think Labor winning is a foregone conclusion so there’s no point covering anything.

  4. Latest installment… another weekend and another get-together with friends. By-election came up – about half the people there lived in the electorate. Only one person declared his intentions and it was to vote for Stevenson. I don’t know his usual allegiances but he suggested it was by way of a ‘kick up the pants’ to the Government.
    In other news, Ben Wyatt got a minute on Today Tonight last night – but only as the Premier’s backdrop. While Carps banged on about ‘strengthening’ anti-hoon laws Wyatt stood silently in the background looking like a cross between a Ministerial policy adviser out with the boss and an admittedly well-dressed by-stander who wanted to get his face on the telly.
    Looking forward to the big ‘debate’ tonight. Tomorrow’s installment should be an interesting one.

  5. As in many by-elections this poll is marked by little substance and not much fizz either, so on polling day don’t be surprised if the “pundits” get it wrong again.

    There is a Green factor that goes beyond an alternative to the ALP or protest for left-leaning voters and her name is Dee Margetts.

    Wyatt and Stevenson are banging on about “ law ‘ n ‘order “ in a bid to look tough on crime, exposing again the politics of fear used by Labor and Liberal when it suits them.

    Dee has been a genuine community representative for long enough to know that
    this bankrupt strategy only alienates youth and focusses away from urgently needed action on issues such as training and employment opportunities which serve both the youth and local businesses struggling to find comepetent staff.

    Her track record shows she stands up for small business as big business continues its well funded and organised push to squeeze small business out of more and more areas.

    It’s interesting to see the talk here about who is “local” when Dee has been a real local for more than 20 years ( by the way her modest home in E Vic Pk is worth a look becasuse of its solar power plant that not only produces clean energy for her but also puts power back into the public grid. How many pollies do you know who actually walk the walk?)

    Dee has already represented the people of Vic Park as one of WA’s Senators and as an MLC has protected their rights to choice and freedom from corporate domination by leading the referendum win in the last election.

    As a long time journalist and mental health advocate I am delighted to see the Greens have put mental health high on their agenda while the ALP appears embarrassed by the issue and the Libs appear to have little idea what mental health is!

    I hope Geoff Gallop is allowed to continue his recovery without being drawn into this campaign, but we need to remember why the poll has been called and actually do something about it, which successive Labor and Liberal Governments have failed to do, despite the suicide rate in WA being higher than the road toll.

    WA needs a reality check and Dee is the only candidate who is capable of making a difference in a Parliament dominated by the interests of the big end of town.

  6. I have no doubt your intentions are good, Tony, but if Geoff Gallop decides he wants to be “drawn” into the Vic Park campaign then that is up to him; if he believes he has “recovered” from depression sufficiently to offer something to the electorate he represented for 20 years then good on him!

    While we can be critical of both the Liberal and Labor approaches to mental health in this country, it is certainly something I have never, ever seen discussed seriously by the Greens..adam

  7. PS..if u think that depression necessarily means you can play a proper role in making a comment on a political or social matter then i’m glad I dont u as an advocate..adam

  8. Adam,

    My co-Greens(WA) Senator from 1993 to 1996, Christabel Chamarette was a clinical Psychologist by profession.

    Amongst other things, Christabel set up a very effective community health forum which included mental health.

    At a state level, my colleague, Giz Watson works her butt off on a whole range of community health issues, including mental health but our work on these issues are seldom, if ever , reported in the media.

    Many people have a very narrow view of the work that we do, but you only have to look at Hansard to see that we are involved and work hard to give a community voice to all aspects of the parliamentary process.

    The way that we operate in Parliamant is to apply the four Greens principles of Ecological Sustainability, Non-Violence, Participatory Democracy and Social Justice to all our work.

    In the balance of power in the Senate and in the Legislative Council, our work load was phenominal, but we still managed to provide a well researched and informed community voice.

    Dee Margetts

  9. Dee,

    thanks for the message…it was only the email from Tony that got my blood boiling, so to speak, about who has the “ownership” over mental health and the way he phrased it…I vote Labor religously but if you could form a coaliton that would be great!! all the best on March 11!! adam

  10. I was very pleased to see a wide variety of debate tonight – I think the format constrained it somewhat, I’d certainly have liked to see more questions from the floor answered as I know one or two put their hand up and were not able to raise whatever points they had.

    Some humorous observations –

    * The candidates sat down in fairly random order based on table availability, but the three left-of-centre candidates ended up next to each other and the three far-right candidates ended up at the extreme opposite ends of the table. The ideological-meets-physical nature of this arrangement didn’t escape me.
    * Only one question was not directed to all candidates.
    * The CDP guy did an even better job than the real politicians of not answering the questions asked of them. He didn’t even manage a coherent answer on the abortion question. He also worked himself into a fit of anger about GST. REAL anger.
    * The Daylight Saving guy didn’t turn up – several jokes circulated as to possible reasons why.
    * The Men’s Confraternity guy was a one-man show and it was worth going just to hear this guy’s fringe views and to see some of the reactions to them. Dee Margetts’s eye-rolls reflected my own sentiments to a T.
    * Danna Vale would be right at home with One Nation candidate Sue Bateman on the abortion question. Bateman was also seen after the event whizzing around the room waving business cards around.
    * Andrew Owens managed to turn an innocuous blue route number sign on a roadside into a political point which he played very well (complete with sinister tone). His sense of humour saw him end his final speech right on the 2-minute buzzer with “The Member’s time has expired” in a dry imitation of David Hawker.
    * Ben Wyatt managed to commit to Bentley Hospital, listing out the services, while leaving out the two services – obstetrics and multi-day surgery – that have been so valiantly fought for in recent months. Other candidates raised this in their reply.
    * Ben also didn’t handle a question well from a man named Norman who kept interrupting his answer in a way that would make Anthony Albanese proud if only Ben weren’t of the same political colour.
    * Dee Margetts suggested that Oats Street would become a racetrack if the railway was sunk.
    * Bruce Stevenson managed to name his kid in a rather unfortunate anecdote at his kid’s expense. I hope nobody knows the poor guy.

    More to come.

  11. My own opinions on the candidates:

    – Andrew Owens was the big surprise of the night. For such a young guy standing up against a qualified field of candidates, and very obviously not a natural public speaker, he did extremely well. He was clear and spoke with conviction, often used anecdotes to illustrate his points, knew the area and its issues intimately, and answered questions as asked. I think he still needs more experience before he’ll get the wider respect that his intelligence and passion merits, but he’s got potentially 38 years ahead and I will be the first to predict that this campaign will not be the last we hear of him. Watch this space, I guess.

    – John Tattersall was well-spoken and knew his field, and had some very convincing points, but he tended to go back to downing John Howard in what was a debate within a single state electorate. I think he’ll do better than the SA usually do simply because he’s not cut from their mould.

    – Dee Margetts was in my opinion the best performer of the evening – she knew her stuff, had the record to back it up, and answered questions clearly on a range of issues. She clearly understands the business realities of the issues she deals with, and has a wide perspective from her time in the Senate and the Upper House. She answered a ridiculous question from Mike Ward quite admirably, and has gone some way to clearing my confusion about what she stands for. As an atypical Green candidate, she may be a vote-getter.

    – Mike Ward – well, the less said… Can’t deny he believes in what he says though.

    – Sue Bateman – failed to impress me. She spoke well, but when she got onto topics like crime and abortion, she seemed to fall apart and lean towards far-right solutions, then talked about defending “mainstream Australia”.

    – Ben Wyatt – Good public speaker, intelligent, but the evasion on Bentley Hospital and his utter failure to answer the question about the roads and railways rattled me somewhat and will among other things decide the preference ordering of my vote. He tried to describe himself as non-factional within Labor while this site clearly documents that he is Labor Right. He talked a lot about community consultation, and bemoaned the demise of the community hall meetings of old, but was very vague. Also made a strange assertion that Victoria Park is not a safe Labor seat. He has promise, but too much party loyalty I suspect.

    – Bill Heggers is a nice guy – almost too nice for this sort of election – but Christian right through-and-through. His initial speech was good, but he seemed to know nothing about any of the local issues, and kept going back to education (more like indoctrination) and Christian values. Likeable bloke, but not my kind.

    – Bruce Stevenson surprised me by handling most issues quite well – he demonstrated an ample knowledge of Town of Victoria Park matters as one would expect, provided a genuine commitment to Bentley Hospital and made some decent suggestions. He did waffle at times, but I believe that he does genuinely believe he can make Victoria Park better.

    On the abortion question from my notes:

    Heggers – Anti-abortion.
    Bateman – Anti-abortion – said her views are different as an older woman than a younger one. Made comment about “aborting our society”.
    Wyatt – Right to choose but is against it in his own family
    Tattersall – Right to choose, woman’s decision
    Owens – Presented both for and against arguments, seemed to lean pro-choice but wants safeguards about late term and counselling.
    Margetts – Right to choose, woman’s decision, agreed with need for counselling.
    Stevenson – Slightly anti but open-minded.
    Ward – Anti-abortion *because* it’s the woman’s choice.

    How would I vote? After seeing it, I still don’t know (especially for no.1 and no.2), but I have some big decisions to make before Saturday, I suppose.

  12. Well, I am impressed to see Dee get on here straight after her involvement at the debate. Adrian has made some good comments above, many of which I agree with.
    Here’s my view of the ‘debate’ – and I stress this is only my opinion of the performance.
    1) 8 of the 11 candidates showed. Apologies were received from Ms van Lieshout but no word from James Dunn (Daylight Saving) or Peter Greaves (Family First). I should add Bill Heggers arrived a little late so didn’t get to introduce himself.
    2) I counted about 40 people in attendance. Some would say this wasn’t bad – I would say abysmal.
    3) Format was as follows: candidates in ballot order got a 3 min opening statement, at the end of which other candidates could ask clarification questions only. Then opened to questions from the floor (the answers weren’t time limited but should have been). Then the candidates got a 2 min closing statement.
    4) The meeting started at 7:30 and finished at 9:30 and there were people who missed out on getting their questions answered.
    5) My impressions of the opening statements: Owens – a very impressive young man who needs more time and experience; Tattersal – quite the socialist; Margetts – pretty typical Green but clearly intelligent and articulate; Ward – wow! Now here is a man driven by an issue – white anglo/celtic males are the most disadvantaged group in society he says, but it is so consuming he comes across as very angry and bitter – more on that in a minute; Bateman – well presented and well spoken but didn’t make an impression; Wyatt – disappointing that such a bright young man has little to say other than a desire to increase political participation in the community. Are his ‘New Ideas’ more public forums?; Heggers – pretty basic Christian fundamentalist; Stevenson – got the only laugh in the opening statements, clearly knows the local issues.
    6) The only clarification question of note was Ward’s to Margetts – ‘Is the Green’s social justice policy feminist?’ Margetts handled it pretty well I thought.
    7) Councillor Barry asked the candidates for their two main local issues: Heggers was about people; Bateman about wider issues; Wyatt mentioned Bentley Library and Hospital (guaranteeing the Hospital’s future but not full services – see Adrian’s comments); Margetts wants to address needs before cutting tax; Owens wants to save Bentley Library, Kent St SHS aviation, infill sewerage and Bentley Hospital; Stevenson mentioned Bentley Library/Hospital, public transport and sewerage.
    8) The abortion question – phew, this was a tough one, I could almost see a couple candidates sweating. Just a couple comments – Owens would consult with the entire electorate before making a decision – Stevenson rightly (IMHO) pointed out this would be a tough and probably futile effort. Stevenson was at his weakest all night on this point and I agree with Adrian that his family story was questionable at best and totally inappropriate at worst. In any event, apparently Mr Stevenson allows his wife to make the policy in this area. Ward came across (again) as very bitter and dismissive attacking the Family Court and being totally dismissive of vicitims of ‘backyard’ abortions (a couple women at the back were talking about walking out). Finally two candidates mentioned they were not about forcing their views (or anyone else’s views) onto others – Wyatt and Margetts. Funny, I thought that was exactly what parliament did every day and what you were being elected to do. I will be interested to see if that continues to be their view if elected – seatbelts, bike helmets, trading hours etc – all up for grabs – we’re not about forcing our views on anyone else! Oh, hang on – Margetts doesn’t believe it applies to trading hours – she was a big player in the ‘no’ case.
    9) Crime question – just the interesting bits – Bateman was keen on mandatory sentencing; Owens wasn’t; Margetts either and she pushed the social aspects of crime prevention; Stevenson was into discipline; Wyatt agreed with Stevenson, Owens and Margetts – thinks shame is effective (I’ll be looking forward to work-gangs in orange jumpsuits and signs if he’s elected); Tattersall thinks its all about kids getting screwed by ‘the man’ (my words – not his); Ward thinks divorce laws are to blame.
    10) Traffic/Roadworks/Level crossings – Wyatt copped a pounding from the questioner on this one. On a related note – in a previous post I noted Margetts out campaigning because I spotted her at the Oats St/Swansea/Shep Rd intersection – turns out she lives right near there so I may have been assuming too much. Stevenson was very good in this area as the deputy mayor he was very familiar with the issues. Bateman probably best cut to the chase by stating in clear and simple terms it all comes down to the money.
    11) Closing statements – Owens wants to talk to lots of people and is beholden to none; Tattersall’s qualifications for the job is he’s been sacked 3 times for standing up for casuals and is concerned about Howard’s Work Choices future; Margetts has a record of performance in the Senate and the Leg. Chamber; Ward thinks there’s an undercurrent of resentment in the community and he’ll get more votes than people think; Bateman’s final statement was unremarkable; Wyatt stated he’d been asked why vote for Labor and he responded it was because they stood for ordinary Australians. There’s so many things wrong with this statement I don’t know where to begin. Will come back to another comment in a minute; Heggers started on a vote for the CDP is not a wasted vote because it would flow on (realistic more than ambitious) but then got very worked up about how much tax we pay; Stevenson said he’d been working for the community for years for free and would like to be elected so at least he got paid for it. He is a proven performer but the area has gotten used to low expectations. One more comment to follow in a minute.
    12) Some comments and thoughts – Even if you accept Mike Ward raises some valid points (and I do think that there are some ‘male’ issues that don’t get the attention they deserve) the way he puts his view alienates a lot of people. Wyatt was hit with many comments about how safe the seat is – a couple in the audience kept referring to the seat as ‘a Cinderella seat’. Ward said the ALP could put a donkey up and it would still win. Wyatt kept pushing the line that it isn’t that safe and no member can afford to be complacent. I think both sides are right – it IS a safe ALP seat and the ALP would struggle to put up a candidate bad enough to lose it – but no member can afford to be complacent. More on this in my following post. Finally I was a little surprised to hear Stevenson state he thought there was a paucity of intellect in parliament. I’m not sure that would endear him to his hoped for colleagues.
    13) Final thoughts – I thought the best overall performer was Stevenson. I was very impressed with Andrew Owens. Ben Wyatt was ok, fairly bland but most importantly inoffensive – probably more than enough to ensure he gets safely over the line. Margetts has some positives but not big enough to mount a serious challenge – her preferences, however, would prove handy. Bateman too wasn’t bad – just not great. That leaves Ward – see comments above, Tattersall – see comments above re: ‘sticking it to the man’ and Heggers – no real impact except he gets really worked up about tax.
    Sorry – long post. Another to follow.

  13. After the ‘debate’ last night I checked my local paper. There were 3 ads from Ben Wyatt – two in the paper and a glossy flyer. The flyer includes endorsements from a bunch of locals including Ron Davies but no GG… are they keeping this in reserve or is he not going to be involved in the campaign?
    Makes me wonder if maybe the Wyatt camp is a little more concerned than most people would have though was justified? He keeps saying the seat can’t be taken for granted… wonder what their polling is saying.
    In any event, the ALP are really in a no-win situation. If they win the seat they get no credit – its a safe seat, they should win it. Obviously in the highly unlikely event they lose the seat that’s no good, but even if they suffer a modest swing that’s something for the coalition and Matt Birney could use a boost about now.

  14. To Adam, sorry about your boiling blood!
    If you’re “drawn into” something it necessarily means it’s not instigated by you, an important clarification.
    as to “adam Says: March 7th, 2006 at 10:32 pm
    PS..if u think that depression necessarily means you can play a proper role in making a comment on a political or social matter then i’m glad I dont u as an advocate..adam” ( I gather you meant can’t not can )
    Why would I think that? It’s never stopped me.

    Finally, the Greens tried to organise a mental health forum chaired by an independent national MH spokesman after approaches from consumers, but the plan was stymied by an NGO which at first claimed leadership then withdrew support as media deadlines for publicity apporoached and then passed.

    So just to confirm the forum planned for tonight in the hall opposite Carlisle Train station is NOT going ahead, effectively removing MH from being an issue in a by-election caused by depression. Now that should get your blood boiling.

  15. Thanks all for your contributions. As an outsider it’s been interesting to read the goings on in VP.

    A couple of observations from afar.

    1. Some of the contributers have a set the bar very high for the major party candidates, whilst giving a few extra credits to the independents, mainly for not belonging to a party. An independent candidate from a northern suburbs like Hammersly, campaigning on local issues alone will struggle to get 2 percent of the vote.

    2. In my experience – swinging voters don’t turn up to community forums to make their selection. Not saying it’s not worthwhile but it doesn’t carry any political impact. Only those committed to a candidate or an issue bother to turn up.

    Keep up the good work locals!

  16. Major party candidates have an important role to prove that the electorate SHOULD vote for them. Wyatt has failed to do so in my eyes – if I elected him, what sort of representative would he be? Meek photo ops with the Premier, Minister for Planning & Infrastructure etc do nothing to convince me that he would stand up to them if Victoria Park’s interests collided with the Labor Party. Stevenson knows the local issues but how would he fare on issues which affect the State?

    There’s two candidates who clearly understood the mandate of a parliamentarian last night, and of those two, I am actually thinking of voting for the Independent. I don’t think it’s relevant where he lives now (I overheard him saying that he has moved back in with his parents as many young people, including my own kids, have done), but what he can actually do. I’m not sure of Owens’s past history other than his own references to going to school and working here, but the person I heard last night was definitely NOT a northern suburbs blow-in. He knew the local issues to a level beyond that which I feel an outsider could, intelligently demolished simplistic arguments from others, and his speech about Kent Street aviation was interesting to listen to. He blasted the Labor Party for favouring the northern suburbs purely to curry votes from marginal seats, and practically prevented Stevenson from raising power as an issue as he’s done in his flyers. I feel that if he were to achieve the unlikely (I won’t say impossible) and win this, we would have a capable independent MP capable of embarrassing the system into action and getting real results. Certainly he is a little fresh, but he’s intelligent and passionate and not heavily ideological, so I think he’ll grow into the role without any serious fuss.

    Talking to people up the back, very few people were decided on how to vote, so swinging voters were a vital factor. This election will be interesting as people are more committed to issues than parties – something that often happens at by-elections. I think loyalty to party is becoming a thing of the past as party memberships dwindle and the two majors drift from their traditional bases. I couldn’t help thinking when Wyatt spoke of Gallop and Davies how far removed he himself was from them.

  17. I must admit I enjoyed the “debate” last night, despite the smaller than hoped for turnout. I will try to avoid repeating too much of what others have said.

    All the candidates were arranged at the front, reminding me a bit of one of the old Monty Python sketches where one or two “normal” people were surrounded by raving loonies and you had to try to spot the normal ones.

    Wyatt was a disappointment; a typical party robot. Honestly, if I hear him say once more, “That is DEAR to my heart”, whilst dramatically clutching the left side of his chest, I will throw up. Even if he did know that his heart is in fact in the centre of his chest, his wooden-hearted performance would still have left me cold. He does look good, and that’s his main strength. No matter what he says he will do, he will have to toe the party line if elected, so he’s really a non-event IMHO. The ALP record is poor in the area, they have sold us down the river to buy votes from the marginal electorates, and they will continue to do that. Several candidates pointed out that the only way to fix the problems in the area is to vote AGAINST the major parties.

    Ward (one of the loonies) said that the ALP would win if they put up a donkey for election. I think this is fairly accurate; it is definitely a safe seat. In fact Wyatt has the seat UNLESS he does something silly, like speak -oops, too late!
    I disagreed with everything else Ward said.

    Margetts was a polished speaker, but I felt she was let down by trotting out the party rhetoric. She made a number of good points, but again was let down by putting her own needs before the electorate. When she was answering “Norman’s” question on the lengthy wait at the railway boom gates, she said that she didn’t want the problem to be fixed in Oats Street (where she lives), as the traffic would speed up in her street. Owens was the only one to note that one of the big problems with the boom gates is that the train times are so poor that trains “overlap” each other and cause the gates to be closed much longer than necessary -so fixing the train times would have an immediate positive effect on the gates.
    Wyatt waffled so much that Norman had to repeat his question a couple of times, in fact I think he found Wyatt more annoying than the boom gates.

    Owens is obviously very intelligent and has a surprising depth of knowledge of local issues, political history and other areas (the issues have been listed on his website http://www.andrewowens.com.au for some time and are slowly been adopted by the other candidates). He said is knowledge of public transport comes from the fact that he uses it daily. If the ALP had to use the transport system, I suspect it would be a lot better. Owens was the only one how knew about the Kent Street School issue, and was obviously the only one who knew that Orrong Road has been secretly (and very recently) transformed into a highway. I cross that road a lot; I’m not looking forward to dodging gigantic trucks, like we have to do on Leach Highway!

    The abortion issue was interesting. Abortion is not one of the usual “local election” issues, but then it was brought up by a known anti-abortion activist -did anyone else spot that?

    Crime was a derisive issue. Owens was the only one who knew the correct statistics. Wyatt and Stephenson were out to punish and shame young offenders, and Bateman (neo One Nation) wanted mandatory sentencing. Owens had done his homework and pointed out how various system has failed abysmally in the past, and how mandatory sentencing had lead to a child been locked up for stealing lollies.
    I hope “Vic Park Local” will forgive me for mentioning that Owens did not think that “shame” would work -that was Wyatt. Stephenson was for punishing offenders hard because they obviously knew “right from wrong”. But Owens pointed out that many of these kids are high on drugs, or low on withdrawl. He said “in these situations, right and wrong go out the window, all they know is that they have a goal and they will do whatever they have to, to achieve it. He also said that when you put young offenders in prison they are taught to be better criminals by the other inmates. He said that you have to start young with education and rehabilitation programs, with complimentary help for victims of crime – as well as ways of finding ways to keep younger people actively involved in the community.

    I won’t repeat the candidates humorous remarks, they have been well covered by others, but I will note a couple of incidents that made me chuckle.

    One gentleman, whilst asking his question, used his hands extensively as he spoke, with very pronounced gestures. The funny part was that he was holding a microphone at the time and it kept moving well away from his mouth (and thus cutting the volume), and each time he would give the microphone a shocked look, as he stretched his neck towards it, as if his hand had a life of its own (shades of the Peter Sellers movie, “How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb”)

    Another chuckle was when Bateman was reading her typed, opening speech. Did you write it herself? She obviously hadn’t read it before, because it became disjointed a couple of times. For example, she read,
    “ …we are not supported by any commercial sponsor”
    Then after a pause, “ships!” and looked startled, you could almost hear her thinking, “What are ‘ships’ doing in my speech?”
    She obviously missed the hyphen at the end of the line

    I could go on all day, but I won’t. I have no doubts who I would choose, and last night helped to confirm it.

  18. The surname isn’t Grayden by any chance? 🙂 For the record, I am not a fan – Shave deserved his pariah status in my books. Not that I shall ever grace the banks of Alfred Cove for anything more than a family picnic, mind you… Anyway, off-track.

    I will say for the record that I don’t doubt that Ben is a nice guy. I wouldn’t have called his performance wooden-hearted – although without any doubt it was a performance in the common meaning – but I do agree that he is beholden to a party line and he feels the need to defend the government of the day at every turn rather than stand up to it, regardless of his own personal feelings. He is also unwilling to criticise his predecessor’s record. That is not what we need at a time when so many needs exist in the Victoria Park area. I agree with Vic Park Local that he is basically inoffensive, and that is why I have decided not to support him.

    Also, under pressure and when not with party minders, he didn’t handle the questions well at all, and his facial responses to some of Owens’, Stevenson’s and Margetts’ points suggested that he did not understand the local issues despite several weeks of very active campaigning.

    Margetts did very well overall. Her starting speech was dry, rehearsed and maybe a bit ideological, but her handling of all questions – including the Ward one – firmly convinced me that she is worth considering and in the running. The racetrack comment, which came out of the answer Jim has described, was possibly her only failing over the night. I put more stock in how they handle questions than their starting speeches, especially given the ridiculous limit of 3 minutes (I agree with VPL that some of the answers dragged on however).

    On the crime issue, I would say that Owens’ and Margetts’ answers were two halves of a whole, and were the first rational arguments we heard in that entire debate. Wyatt actually did manage a good answer (almost at odds with his own flyers) – the concept of shaming in Aboriginal culture is very potent, and works where there is a strong bond of community and respect for the tribal elders, but in my opinion, whether it translates to society as a whole is very questionable.

    On rereading VPL’s post, I can assure Jim that VPL was talking about Wyatt, not Owens – that was clear to me on a first reading, but I went back to see if I had missed something. And yes, I recall that Bateman mishap, that did raise a chuckle at the time.

    I think what the three accounts of the debate prove is that it all comes down to different people’s perceptions and what views they bring to the table. There were great variances within the room, within the audience, across the candidates. I also think Jim and VPL have underrated Margetts. If I was a government minister dealing with researched questions about inaction or broken promises from either Margetts or Owens as the member for Victoria Park, I wouldn’t be feeling relaxed and comfortable at all. As far as I could see (and my view was blocked, so I’d appreciate correction if I am wrong), both of them took notes throughout, but noone else did.

    Andrew Owens doesn’t easily fit anywhere on the scale – he comes from a centre-left “progressive liberal” point of view at a values level, but intellectually he considers a far wider range of options, and has strong moral values. He is intelligent, extremely well informed, and likeable – and yet doesn’t hesitate to score points against other debaters without getting personal. And even he seems to recognise the difficulties in the road ahead. He’s too hard to put in any box, and I’m sure certain people involved in this contest (and no doubt future ones) will not like that fact. He’s certainly no orator yet – but oratory skill is no requirement for office if some of those who actually got elected are any guide. If this is the calibre we can expect of a new generation of independents in WA, things are about to get very interesting.

  19. Briefly – thanks to Adrian for defending my comments. Sorry Jim at Cannington if I was unclear (and I admit there was room for ambiguity). To clarify, what I meant to say was “Wyatt firstly agreed with Stevenson, Margetts and Owens’ comments then proceeded to say he thought shame was also an effective option”. Is that better?
    I regret I will be unable to listen to Wyatt and Stevenson on Mooner this morning (no radios at work) – can someone listening give us a report please?
    As for the candidates generally, I agree with Adrian (as I think I’ve said previously) that Margetts is a strong performer and that Owens was a very impressive young man. That said, let’s be realistic here – the only real issue is going to be whether you put Wyatt ahead of Stevenson or vice versa. Based almost entirely on their performances in the campaign generally and at the debate in particular I know which I’ll be doing.
    However, I also agree with Jim. I don’t think that the electorate has been well served, at least in the last few years, by the ALP and Vic Park (the electorate – not the suburb) has been getting a raw deal in comparison with other less safe electorates. I also don’t agree with Wyatt that GG was an excellent local member. I will agree he came across as a very likable, intelligent man and he had a high local profile. However, I don’t think he got results for the electorate and most of the main local gripes are evidence of this fact.
    If we can’t get results for the electorate out of this Government with the Premier as local member what hope do we have?

  20. I would like to add to the “racetrack comments”.

    Perhaps I should have “rat trail”.

    You will have noticed that the questioner said he chooses not to use Oats St because he is held up when the boom gates are down.

    The section of Oats St from Shepperton Rd to the right turn at Swansea St is already a rat trail to Welshpool Rd. Given that Oats St is largely a residential Road and Welshpool Rd is an industrial strip.

    I was asked on the spot whether I would support sinking the rail at Oats St to allow the traffic to speed up. What I attempted to do was to look at the other implications for the people (and yes, I am one of them) living there of the change to the use of Oats St.

    I have been to many fora where the biggest cause of upset for local residents were changes that increased the traffic load to
    residential areas and made the roads LESS SAFE.

  21. i think what this debate said to me is, if you want a politician’s politician who can waffle on about nothing, weasel out of anything and not answer any question asked of them (awb eat your heart out hey), vote ben. he’s very good at speeches though, i will give him that.

    he refused to commit to bentley hospital’s services (which i read here he also did in the debate), didn’t answer the question about all stops train services or late train services (if millions have been spent on it as he says to drive it backwards we should REALLY be asking questions about tax money!!). he fobbed off the question about too many lawyers in politics. i’d love to see an electrician or a boilermaker or a welder in parliament personally. at least i could get a bloody answer out of them.

    bruce also dodged a few questions including why he voted to close somerset pool in a 7-1 vote and he seems to think crime at train stations is more of an issue than when the trains run, but at least he did commit to bentley hospital. and he didnt handle the conflict of interest question well about his real estate business.

    good on the independent guy for raising the real issues in this campaign and committing to fix them. at least i know someone cares about victoria park.

  22. I was going to come on here to sum up, but looks like someone already has. If someone told you that Ben was actually 41 and had been in politics 10 years, you’d probably believe them. The scary part is neither are true. A woman I work with pointed out that as a safe Labor seat (one need only look at the Federal statistics to see that Wilson is the only unsafe bit for the ALP) Ben might be expected to be the local member for 34 years, and this is the one chance we have to say “no, find someone better and come back to us when you’ve got the message”. And with not one, but two progressive alternatives to the ALP in this election, we don’t have to accept the ALP’s decision on this matter.

  23. NOOOOO!!! Thanks to Chris for the summary but I need more. I need more detail and other people’s perspectives. I need to know what was said, what questions were asked, what tone was taken. I am intrigued by the conflict of interest question referred to… what was the allegation? Adrian, others – give me more!!! PLEASE!

  24. I didn’t catch all of it, and I only heard the tail end of the conflict of interest question, but I can say the tone was pretty boring. If you know what Ben and Bruce have already said in their flyers and in the debate, it was a repeat of the same – they handled each question as a speech on those topics. Ben explicitly failed to commit to obstetrics and multi-day surgery at the hospital, and even suggested the community didn’t want them. I hope someone who heard it end-to-end can comment more adequately (Do 6PR do transcripts or any sort of writeup?)

  25. I’m not sure if this will work, but if you get this 6PR Dee audio I’ll send the audio of today’s “debate” soon after.

    otherwise I’m happy to email the interviews to anyone from any party
    Dee 6PR 23.2 4:44 6.6 MB 23/02/06 10:58 AM

  26. paul murray flipped a coing to see who would get to speak first and ben got to go first. also, paul murray referred to this website as an excellent on and showed he was reading what we all had to say.

    they got to make a brief statement about what they thought were the issues and ben said local traffic, health and education, and law and order. Stevenson said some of the important issues include crime, the public transport system, and Bentley Hospital’s reduction in services.

    ben was quite unimpressive and resorted to trying to attack bruce’s private business dealings after he (ben) was getting nailed.

    despite his statement that the hospital was important, ben refused to answer a point-blank question from paul murray on bentley hospital and jumped all over the place with his message, more often than not talking about what the State Government had supposedly done rather than what he could do. he actually did a fair amount of local government bashing which was odd because local government has done more in the area than state government.

    ben also flickpassed a question about vic park train station’s delays and its effect on the blid association like a hot potato.

    bruce did pretty well and could talk in more detail about things. he had a couple of jabs at ben and at one stage, after ben had made an ill-informed comment about local councillors’ declarations of interest, said “I think this just shows your inexperience” or words to that effect.

    it was good to see that andrew owens got on too, talking about his transport plans. bill higgins also got on and talked about the need for more focus on families.

    there was some talkback which was interesting. there were obviously a couple of pre-organised call ins for ben, with one woman sounding like she was reading a question that had been put under her nose. quite funny really. This call was about their views on plans to close the aquatic centre and reduce hours at the Bentley Library – ben jumped right in and bruce handled it well too.

    there was another caller, which i suspect was another Labor set up which targeted bruce asking why he had opposed the redevelopment of Sunset Pool. bruce explained his position quite well and really didn’t leave ben much room to attack.

    the funniest (and probably only genuine caller asked Ben whether there weren’t too many lawyers in politics already. ben’s answered that there were only a couple that he knew of and most lawyers are liberals. conveniently forgetting margaret quirk, mark mcgowan, jim mcginty7 (even though he hasn’t done his articles) and jaye radisich (who is finishing her degree or something like that) sue walker and george cash. there are probably more too.

    all up the interview was borderline exciting and boring. it was punctuated by a bit of fire here and there. my assessment was that bruce came across a lot better than ben and seemed more passionate and informed on issues. he was not taking any guff and was taking the line that why should residents accept the little the government has given them.

    i was really good that a couple of the other candidates, especially owens, had the nouse to call in.

    although ben is going to win i think he has had to fight a lot harder than anticipated which is a credit to the other candidates.

  27. Ok, this is likely to be my final installment so it better be a good one! 😉
    Thanks Watcher for the more detailed summary. Sorry Tony – I don’t think it worked. I can’t get audio at work anyways so it’d have to be a transcript.
    Update – finally as I anticipated we got the long anticipated endorsement from GG in last night’s brochures. I suspected they might be keeping their biggest gun for the end-game. That said, I’m not sure I was overly impressed by the endorsement. I also got another ALP brochure – electorate boundaries and ‘how to vote’. Bit surprised at the ‘how to vote’. Stevenson got 2nd last (just ahead of One Nation if I recall correctly) – even behind some fairly ‘extreme’ viewpoint candidates (those at the debate will know what I mean). Got a Greens brochure and, more interestingly, a Liberal flyer on green paper attacking the government on their failure on infill sewerage but which never mentioned who it was from. The only way one could work out who it was from was the endorsement.
    So, final impressions… I have been very surprised at the time, money and effort put into this campaign by both major parties considering it is a very safe Labor seat. Makes me wonder why. Surely the Libs don’t really think they can win it? Surely the ALP don’t think they’re going to lose it? It can only be about the amount of swing. What do others think?
    Before predicition time let me say that I have been generally surprised at how little attention this by-election has gotten and how low the general public’s awareness is. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if you had a lot of people not turn up to vote simply because they were unaware it was on.
    I think on the basis of the campaigns and quality of candidates the ALP should be worried. That is not to say Wyatt is not an intelligent and nice young man with impressive credentials however he hasn’t shown us anything. Owens is giving me serious reason to think about the top of my preferences. Stevenson has run a strong campaign and is an excellent local candidate but cannot overcome the tide of Vic Park electoral history this time around. Margetts is also impressive and I would have thought the majors would be lining up to get her preferences – does anyone know what her ‘how to vote’ looks like? (That said I hate ‘how to votes’, never take then and despise people stupid enough to allow their democratic freedom to be dictated to by anyone).
    BTW, while I remember, in response to someone’s comment that the only not safe bit of the electorate for the ALP is Wilson on the WAEC website the break-down by polling station for Vic Park in 2005 shows GG at least doubled Fearis’ 1st preference votes almost across the board. Even Wilson was just shy of double so even Wilson is comparatively ‘safe’.
    So, predictions. I am going to tip a safe ALP win. I do think there will be a swing. I’ve previously stated I think it’ll be under 5%. I’d be inclined to think that’s pretty close but, at the same time, I wouldn’t be too surprised if it was a little more. I might need to apologise to that ECU guy I ripped on earlier who said 5-7% was likely. However, if it does go that high it will be because of the campaigns and not simply because it’s a by-election.
    Anyone else care to make a prediction?
    Last remark – this is unquestionably Victoria Park’s best chance for the last 40 years and probably for the next 20 to really show something, to make the ALP wake up and stop taking us for granted. If we don’t do it now it won’t happen anytime in the foreseeable future. I’m not saying vote Lib (and I wouldn’t – I won’t even tell my spouse how I’m voting in case I influence her vote – I want people to inform themselves and make their own decisions) but even if you want to vote Labor consider giving your first preference to an independent or minor party candidate then your second to the ALP – the ALP hasn’t needed to rely on preferences in Vic Park for awhile – it might just make them sit up and pay attention.

  28. bill johnston (labor) and mark neeham (lib) were just on liam bartlett’s show. missed most of johnston, but i think he said something about a swing against labor. i’ll tryt and find out exactly what he said and post again.

    neeham said it’s a chance for people to send a message because vic park has been taken for granted. he said this election is about local issues, not whether matt birney or alan carpenter stuff things up

  29. Being from Victoria I’ve enjoyed the commentary which has allowed me to get a better impression of whats going on. TY PB and posters. BTW VP Local, the Libs have printed on green paper a few times before in order to confuse green supporters, it was bought to the attention of the AEC by Bob Brown, but dissmissed because there wasn’t enough proof that it was intentional.

  30. Hello all, just dropping in to heartily thank all concerned for their marvellous contributions to these two threads during the by-election campaign (see the last paragraph of my recent “Plunge taken” post), and to encourage you all to tune in to The Poll Bludger’s live online coverage of the count tomorrow night.

  31. yeah as a Queens Park resident I’d like to thank you all for what you have said, you wouldnt even know there was a byelection if you read the papers or watch TV as there is just nothing at all being said. I get all the flyers of course but people say anything so to hear about the debate and 6pr and people’s analysis of the issues is really worth its weight in gold. I would like to see the roads fixed as in this area theyre not roads more like parking lots. I would like to see the rec centre stay open, I played basketball there as a kid, it’s a great little place. Why does everything have to be about money? Anyway I’ve said my piece, thanks poll bludger and thanks all of you.

  32. i saw the two main candidates on the state edition of the 7.30 report tonight….not good coverage for the liberal bloke (stevensen?) i would have thought??

  33. No Adrian, it’s not me. I’ve met Bruce Stephenson at Swan Division and, despite my personal issues with the Liberal Party, he’s probably the best choice of Liberal candidate I can think of.
    Re: Alfred Cove, That wasn’t me but rather my brother John. I won’t convince you otherwise but there was no arrangement with Shave. I can guarantee you that no-one from our campaign was involved in any meeting, deal etc with anyone from the Lib’s on any point. I’ve never met Shave, John saw the opportunity to present an alternative to the electorate exactly as I did in South Perth.

  34. Well, I have just discharged my civic duty and voted. For the first time that I can recall I changed my vote at the very last minute. I had intended to vote in a certain order prior to arriving at the polling station but as I arrived at the polling place a candidate was leaving. This candidate was dressed so poorly I changed my preferences! Petty? Probably, but things like that count.
    I will be following along tonight here and directly at the WAEC. Will Vic Park shows us something come close of polls tonight? I wait with baited breath.

  35. I just want to say thank you to all the contributors – i’m a student from NSW and love following elections, but it has been barely covered over here. i’ve just read through the forums and i’m pleased to hear that people are going to send a bit of a pointed message to the ALP. i would definitely prefer Wyatt to win over Stevenson (about 1000 times better, in my opinion) but he sounds a bit like an ultra-polished no-real-policy candidate from where i’m sitting. Great to hear that Dee Margetts is doing well among PB’s dedicated contributors – i’m a huge fan of the Greens in general. Because of the time difference (cue daylight saving party), the coverage won’t being until quite late here, but i think it is worth it so i can cheer the Greens on. thanks again everyone,

  36. Quick one (my last post got eaten by my PC!) but the polling booths were very noticeably Labor/Liberal, with in descending order Greens, One Nation, CDP and Socialist Alliance being strongly represented, and Andrew Owens’s signs and banners prominently displayed at all the booths I saw. I voted at one with my wife at open of voting, and then visited another one bringing my son (his first vote ever) back from cricket. At the latter I actually saw Andrew and one of his supporters putting up signs – I actually admire candidates that do the hard yards themselves – and also saw Ben Wyatt and Alan Carpenter show up for a photo shoot. We drove around three other booths and they seemed about the same.

    In the end I voted Owens, Margetts, Stevenson in that order. I am glad that so many candidates gave the ALP a run for their money, and particularly that the symbolic 50% was not reached. For the amount of money being waved around, one can only hope that Victoria Park will benefit from the tough contest – however, listening to Wyatt on TV last night shows he has learned nothing and will stick to the spin for now (“I would be happy if I won by one vote, I don’t care about swings”, looking slightly intoxicated).

    I sincerely hope that Owens, still very young, realises that 1.4% is a good showing in such a large field, and to have come from nowhere, poll immediately behind the 2005 contenders, conduct a focussed, branded campaign at a purely grassroots level, take on serious issues in a mature way, get media attention, and do well at a multi-candidate debate, takes considerable intelligence, hard work and personal qualities. I’m sure that other parties are no doubt contacting him right now to try and bring him in, and I hope that he shows the strength of character he did in the debate and can resist those pressures and inducements. I look forward to seeing where he directs his energies in future, and he has my email address as of last night so is more than welcome to let me know.

    I’d also like to thank everyone here for providing a reasoned, informative commentary on the election as it seems no media agency was willing to do, and thanks to watcher for that 6pr interview – I missed most of it due to telephone calls from clients. Thanks to Vic Park Local for his insightful and incisive analyses of not just the major party campaigns but all the others as well. And most importantly thanks to PB for giving us the space to do this.

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