16 May 2024

Letter from the Editor: Helpful hints to avoid campaign catastrophe

| Lyndon Keane
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With announcement photo shoots and media conferences complete, it’s now time for Cook candidates to focus on improving the liveability of Cape York and the Torres Strait, and convincing voters they are committed to serving them, not Brisbane. Photo: Supplied.

With the big Liberal National Party and Katter’s Australian Party reveals on who will be flying their colours for Cook ahead of October’s state election out of the way, it’s time for candidates to get down to business.

Being the sort of bloke who enjoys the novel idea of a level playing field, especially when it comes to politics, I thought I’d offer a bit of free advice to the four candidates lining up to get their mitts on the Cook crown five months from now. Think of it as a campaign crash course, if you will.

Tip one is to listen more than you talk. A tough ask for anyone with political aspirations, to be sure, but it’s not a coincidence you have two ears and only one pie hole. Cook is a monstrous electorate, covering nearly 200,000 square kilometres, which means what’s an issue in Mareeba may not be on the radar of people in Weipa. If it’s flagged as a problem in Port Douglas, chances are Seisia residents probably aren’t devoting much time to pondering it. Cook is a diverse electorate with diverse people and diverse issues. Sure, there will be some similar themes, such as skyrocketing cost of living pressures, but please make sure you’re asking Cape York and Torres Strait voters what their biggest concerns are, not telling them.

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Tip two is to get your head around the Peninsula Developmental Road and what needs to be done. If you don’t think it’s going to be the most discussed issue in any spot you visit between Lakeland and Weipa, you probably shouldn’t be running as a candidate.

My third tip is one I don’t believe I’m actually having to tell adults: be accountable. People, especially those in remote areas, are sick and tired of being told an issue is someone else’s fault. We don’t care how eloquently you can play the blame game. We aren’t idiots. We know successive governments of both party persuasions have failed the northernmost part of Queensland. We’re sick of being an afterthought for those elected to represent us, and the next politician to arrive in our part of the world with excuses instead of solutions may very well end up in a crab pot.

Tip four is that if you are bereft of independent though, lack a spine and have your withered political heart set on serving your Brisbane masters, rather than Cape York and the Torres Strait, in an attempt to bootlick your way to a ministry, don’t even bother coming. Obsequious, cookie-cutter politicians are a dime a dozen, and of absolutely zero use to us. We’ve got enough social and economic dramas to deal with due to government incompetence and disinterest without having to rely on someone who’s afraid to get their hands dirty and ensure our voices are heard loud and clear in the big smoke.

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My fifth and final tip is to be visible and engaged. This one’s always difficult, given the gargantuan patch of dirt you’re trying to represent, but nothing raises our ire more than fly-in, fly-out political types who rock into town for a photo opportunity and the opening of an envelope, but then disappear before locals can seek advocacy and share what’s on our mind. You’ve come all this way, so you may as well find out what your constituents think while you’re here. If you can find the time between tone-deaf social media posts and stuffing your face with party pies and those fancy little quiches, that is.

Now, having had this unsolicited wisdom imparted upon you, I fully anticipate it will be completely ignored in favour of those perennial campaign favourites: deaf ears, party lines, mudslinging and finger pointing.

Let the games begin!

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