Original article by Jamie McIntyre published in 21st Century News.
There is a saying in trading: “Don’t go against the trend, the trend is your friend”. This means that the trend politically around the country and even more so in New England was a huge move away from Labor and Independents and towards the Coalition as clearly evidenced by the election results .
Tony Windsor won last time as an Independent with 61 per cent of the vote.
For his candidate Rob Taber in the 2013 elections, this has dropped massively to only 14.4 per cent (Windsor put up Taber to be his proxy as he lost the courage to contest this year’s elections and face the wrath of voters he betrayed in 2010. Obviously he was also afraid of being soundly beaten by Barnaby Joyce).
Unfortunately even though the trend was moving towards the right and the centre right of politics and as a centre right and broad based party, 21st Century Australia was right in the line of capturing some of this trend, with the ability to attract voters of all ages and both sides of politics.
However, as many are aware, we were forced to run as Independents. This was due to the AEC’s deliberate bungling of our party registration by delaying it till after the election, despite the fact that we submitted our application well ahead of time and had hundreds of more members than required.
As a result the party was not able to run and it effectively meant that our campaign ended when a September 7 election was announced 5 weeks ago.
As devastating as this was, I was taught not to be a quitter. Moreover, we had already amassed large number of supporters Australia wide and in New England. We couldn’t abandon our supporters, thus we committed to continue even though we were aware that it was almost impossible to win.
So, we decided that I should run as an Independent, fully aware that the brand had been made toxic, thanks to Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott. As evidenced by polls, many of the Nationals voters planning on voting for me before the election was called was at around 20% and had now moved back in droves to Barnaby Joyce of the Nationals who was polling at 40% before the election was called .
This was expected but not to the degree it occurred as we underestimated just how detested Tony Windsor had become and how many voters swore they would never vote for an Independent ever again for the rest of their lives , thanks to Windsor.
Also, New England is a conservative electorate and after Windsor took their vote in 2010 and against the large majority’s wishes put Labor in office, ( only 8% voted Labor in 2010), there was no way New England voters were going to risk voting for another Independent such as myself, even though they were inspired by our policies, passion and vision for the country. They were supportive of many 21st Century Policies and inspired by many of my speeches made during the campaign for a better Australia.
On Election Day I was approached by hundreds of Nationals volunteers and supporters at various polling booths wanting to meet me, wish me well and encourage me to run in the future by saying how inspired they were by my Party’s efforts and what we stood for.
The support and respect we garnered was enormous and very encouraging.
The problem was that Nationals supporters were not going to follow through with the idea of voting for an Independent again and nor were they going to risk Rudd getting re-elected. Consequently, the shift back to Nationals was about 13 per cent greater than expected; up from our estimates of 40 per cent to 53 per cent resulting in our vote going down by 13 per cent compared to our expectations of 20 per cent to 7 per cent or just under 6000 votes compared to the votes we would have received had we been able to run as a party.
The other factors affecting the results were Palmer Party that collected 5 per cent of the vote in New England despite almost no campaigning besides a lot of TV ads.
Moreover, we also failed to preference. I am not a big fan of preferencing on ‘how to vote’ cards, but now I see why major parties do it.
If you only put 1 in the box and leave the others up to the voter to complete, many don’t and this risks making their vote invalid especially when there were 9 candidates.
Several scrutineers said we lost a lot of votes because we didn’t preference as many voted 1 for McIntyre but didn’t complete the rest of the card thus costing us votes again.
However, the main reason we suffered was because we couldn’t benefit from the trend towards the centre and right where 21st Century Australia would benefit , we were forced to run as Independents and in New England, Independent means Labor and Greens, which is opposite to the direction the trend was heading, thus voters were moving in the opposite direction as well.
It is the complete opposite to the majority of polices and ideologies I support. To turn around the damage Windsor did to the Independent brand in New England was never going to happen in five weeks, let alone five years, nor did we want to as the brand we are building for the long-term is 21st Century Australia, not Independents. As a result, it was a very difficult marketing exercise that most political experts say is impossible.
The result on Election Day was frustratingly disappointing, but in the scheme of things, it was minor compared to the successes we had achieved and when forced into the position we finally were in, it left us with little choice besides doing what we could to garner as many votes as we did.
Every great journey starts with a single step though . We started off in late March this year as we expected it would take ten years to become a serious third party threat.
We had to get started and our motto was- if not us, then who? And if not now, when?
The goals were:
1. To run now so we can learn as much as we can for future elections. On this measure we succeeded greatly. The team was inspirational and they learned a lot. Other parties would dream about the kind of passionate and dedicated supporters we have.
Such loyalty cannot be bought or coerced.
We had people drive for over ten hours to help out on Election Day and others took trains or flew in from interstate. They are the kind of supporters that will change a nation in the long-term.
Also, the amount I learned is invaluable.
2. The second reason we ran was to gain media exposure for the party. We succeeded in this well beyond expectation by achieving over 150 newspaper articles by many major papers, radio interviews and television coverage from all over the country.
3. To build a large quality team including candidates Australia wide. We over achieved in this regard and are more than ready for the next election in 1-3 years with an amazing team of candidates.
4. To amass a large number of supporters Australia wide. We were overwhelmed at the amount of support we received nationwide and overseas. We know the quantity and quality of supporters and I know which party I would rather be leading.
It is 21st Century Australia, thanks to the supporter base built up, not just over the last 5 months when the party was created, but over the last 15 years at 21st Century Education.
5. Create detailed policies nationally and locally and make them publicly available. We achieved this and received a lot of support as we are one of the few parties in the country with detailed common sense policies.
In fact I haven’t seen any other party provide the same level of detailed policies, but I have noticed the major parties pinch quite a few. Needless to say we encourage this as we are a policy think tank and a movement, not just a party. Therefore we are focused on creating change regardless of how it is accomplished.
6. Add value by creating a community joined together by the policy ideas of 21st Century Australia.
7. Create a positive long-term vision for the country and share it far and wide such as on Foxtel this Thursday, after speaking at the Australia 2050 Round Table.
8. Locally to ensure that Tony Windsor was not re-elected in the New England.
It is clear by Tony Windsor’s spiteful ways and continued media attacks against me that he is very upset about me running for the seat of New England. He knew that I would preference the Nationals ahead of him for his betrayal, so much so that he begrudges me for that and was aware that as a result, he had little hope of winning.
Therefore, he promptly quit instead of facing a loss or facing a majority of New England voters who can’t stand what he did.
He went on to make ridiculous claims publicly, stating that it is the talk of Canberra in the corridors that McIntyre and Barnaby Joyce were colluding together and that McIntyre was running simply to gain preferences for the Nationals and to take the youth vote.
Either way Windsor didn’t run and that mission was accomplished
9. Run a largely positive campaign
Even though Barnaby Joyce was the major rival we both ran largely positive campaigns instead of resorting to negative personal attacks.
I think all the candidates conducted themselves in a respectful way and Pat Shultz of the Greens was a pleasure to spend time with as it was good to see her passion for her cause, even though I may oppose many of their policies.
10. The last goal was to build grass root support for a party and establish its foundations within five months amongst everything else such as running numerous companies and also enjoying the process.
This was accomplished 99 per cent of the time. It was an amazing adventure shared by a quality and passionate team that stood up for a very noble cause and I am very proud of them. This is just the beginning.
I am more excited now than ever before, as I realise the power each of us has to make a difference if we stay focused on the greater good and the future.
We achieved a lot and despite the AEC’s deliberate bungling of our party registration, which cost us possibly 1-2 senate seats that we were originally targeting, but were ultimately collected by micro parties.
As the saying goes:
“There is always next time”.
And for 21st Century Australia as a Party, it will be actually our first time on the ballot paper in the next election- so that will be great.
All we wanted was a chance to provide a voice for many Australians.
To the critics out there that are too gutless to have a go themselves, I say:
Judge us on how we go next time when we are allowed to be on the ballot. Perhaps even better, don’t judge us at all.
The glory always belongs to those who have the guts to be in the ring. Anyone can be a spectator in life. It takes courage to take a stand and even more to attempt what many think is impossible in a bid to end the two-party duopoly in Australia.
But I have a dream.
A dream shared by many Australians desperately seeking fresh leadership with new ideas and a fresh approach.
As Steve Jobs said:
Those who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are often the very ones who do.
We look forward to this immense challenge with joy.
Related Election Articles