By ERWIN CHLANDA
Conservative voters may well ask in the lead-up to this year’s elections: Will Parliamentarians under the banner of the Country Liberals (usually referred to as the CLP) be representing you, the people who voted for them, and their electorate?
Or will they be representing their party?
Here is a hint: The candidates are of course on the CLP website, giving us the usual Spiel.
Samples: “Ecstatic to be selected … excited for the challenge of winning the seat … well and truly aware of the issues facing the people … passionate about giving back to the community.” And so on.
But what’s not there are the mobile phone numbers nor the personal email addresses of the candidates.
The contact details are all the same – the street address of the party office in Darwin, the email of the Territory director and their landline.
So to get to know the person who may become your link to our democratic process you will need to expose yourself to a party apparatchik who’s likely to quiz you about your identity (which may well finish up on a database), ask you what your enquiry is all about, and who may well say: “Send us an email and I’ll give you some lines” – a strategy the current Labor Government has turned into an art form.
Or you may get the usual “she/he is in a meeting … is travelling in the electorate … is out of range at the moment” and so on.
We as journalists insist on talking to the organ grinder, not the monkey, reporting to our readers first-hand information and not hearsay.
We’re perfectly capable of making our own arrangements for interviews and so, we would have imagined, are the candidates.
For those reasons we’ve gone to considerable effort to obtain the direct contact details for them from the party office.
Freelance journalist Julius Dennis, on the behalf of the Alice Springs News, has made contact four times and spoken with people in the CLP office three times.
He emailed CLP director Nadine Jones on February 12, seeking an interview with Damien Ryan (“who I have already got in touch with”), Joshua Burgoyne, Steve Edgington, Rose Watts and Kylie Bonnani, candidates with a Central Australian connection.
He was fobbed off every time.
I spoke with party president Ron Kelly on February 18. He was surprised the information wasn’t on the website and said he would make sure it would be put there. It’s still not there.
The easy way of course would be to regurgitate the bumph on the website.
Sample from current Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan, now the CLP candidate for Araluen, photographed for the website in a tropical setting: “In 1972 Mr Ryan began work in retail photographic at Alice Springs Camera Shop … his entrepreneurial and innovative skills saw him representing Kodak Australasia on the international photographic marketing committee during the 1980s and 90s and [he] was recognised in 2000 as the Australian photographic dealer of the year.”
What’s not mentioned by the CLP spin is that the Alice Springs Camera Shop (above) has just closed its doors.
By ERWIN CHLANDA