Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Voting for the unloved

By Richard Stanton - posted Thursday, 6 September 2012

Unless you're a land developer, a candidate or a political tragic the NSW local government election next Saturday September 8 will be about as exciting as a strand of used dental floss.

Candidates get excited because they can campaign on what they think are really interesting issues - Sydney city has a candidate campaigning on legal public nudity. And another group calling themselves the Sex Party (they got a run on one of the morning TV shows). Dubbo city has posters all over town imploring citizens to vote for Muppets. Yep, furry puppets. Hilarious. Sydney's Auburn has candidates at pre-polling stations beating down on each other and taking out apprehended violence orders. Not so funny but relatively exciting.

Developers get excited because they back candidates into council so they can get zoning changes done and so they can build large housing estates where no-one wants to live.


Political tragics get excited because they can dwell on the question of why no one is interested in the most important 'grassroots' level of politics in the country.

Why is no-one interested? What is it about local government and local councils that make them so unattractive?

As long as the potholes get repaired and the rubbish gets collected, what else do councils do?

Councils were established universally in the late 19th century to fund roads in outer urban and regional and rural areas.

One might go a long way today to find a council that invests in roads other than the filling in of potholes and patching over of weather-damaged sections.

So why is local government so stupendously boring?


Part of the answer lies in the way councils and councillors communicate. Most of them are not very good at it. They are still locked in to a 19th century mentality where the importance of roads, drainage and the collection of human waste was paramount in the building of towns and cities.

To get a sense of the poor communication take a look at the advertising being created by candidate for Saturday's election. They buy space in their local newspaper. They design an advertisement that has a large mugshot with a few words to describe their goals – words that usually bear no relationship to what happens when they get elected.

Integrity. Transparency. Community. Family. Vision. Experience. Making a Difference.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

3 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Richard Stanton is a political communication writer and media critic. His most recent book is Do What They Like: The Media In The Australian Election Campaign 2010.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Richard Stanton

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 3 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy