Cessnock Labor Election Strategy

Dear Sir

Labor Dirty Tricks

With the count now finally over in Cessnock it is clear that for the first time Cessnock has had a member without majority support. Despite 60% of people voting for something other than Labor, Clayton Barr will be the next member for Cessnock with only 40.7% (after preferences) of voters voting for him.

The size of the slap in the face to Labor in Cessnock can be seen by comparing the 55% of primary votes won by Kerry Hickey in 2007 and the 34% of votes won by Claton Barr in 2011. This is a 21% swing against Labor in primary votes!  Much higher than the State average.

So why do we still have Labor?

Many voters may not have realised that on Saturday 26th March the ALP had two teams of people at the polling booths. One team was the regular local ALP supporters. The other team was a group of young people from Melbourne who were especially brought in and dressed in white T-shirts which said Just Vote 1. This team stood aprt from the regular ALP workers, were dressed differently and handed out little cards saying the same Just Vote 1. Although the fine print on the T-Shirts and cards said Labor many people I have since spoken to thought these were polling officials, and most people did not realise they were Labor workers.

In my opinion this tactic was unethical and was intended by Labor to stop voters nominating their 2nd and 3rd choices. Disrupting the preference flow ensured a Labor win. Labor knew that if voters did not mark a second or third choice the 30-35% of rusted on Labor voters they can rely on no matter how badly they perform woud be enough to see them through. And that is exactly what happened. In this election a record number of Cessnock voters  exhausted (25%) compared with the 2003 election (10%) and 2007 election ( 7%). It is the final piece of contempt shown by Labor for Cessnock that they tried, and did, win the seat by convincing enough people not to use their vote in the most democratic way possible, that is by each voter marking the ballot paper in order of their choice, preferential voting.

There are many people who wonder how Labor can get away with a tactic like that. I have had a complaint from a person who was told inside a polling booth that all they had to do was Vote 1.

The Cessnock Greens believe it is undemocratic to not clearly identify which party booth workers are working for. It is also undemocratic to not clearly explain that in NSW Electons voters have a choice of filling in one, some or all the boxes. Elections should be fair and free of dirty tricks. We will be making a complaint to the NSW Electoral Commmission. If you have a story to share please contact me on 0414 922 591 and stringybark@hunterlink.net.au


James Ryan

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