UPDATE: As of Wednesday 21 June I’ve added a couple of details to my references to Warren H Williams and Seranna Shutt to clarify my header above – they both now have Twitter accounts. See below for their addresses.
Let me make it clear from the start. Apart from Labor incumbent Damian Hale’s marginal seat of Solomon, the Northern Territory will be largely be a sideshow in this election. Both of the incumbent major-party Senators will be returned and the Country Liberal’s Leo Abbott is highly unlikely to put much wood on Labor’s Warren Snowdon in Lingiari, which covers all of the NT apart from the small north-western corner of the NT that makes up the Darwin-based seat of Solomon.
Solomon is where all the action will be, with Labor’s rather lack-lustre Damian Hale fending off a strong challenge from the Country Liberal’s Natasha Griggs.
The rest will largely be little more than entertainment value – and perhaps that is why The Greens have chosen Aboriginal entertainer (for those of out of the country music loop think John Williamson & “Raining on the Rock“) Warren H. Williams as their Senate candidate in the NT.
I will work on a more in-depth look at the local candidates in the coming days (if you have any interesting tips or information please forward them to me!) but right now I want to have a preliminary look at their on-line presence. Most of the candidates have a homepage – with widely varying degrees of information & value – and most have a Facebook page. But, maybe reflecting the small size of the electorate, our “late-adopter” status in matters technical or our slower pace of life up here, none of them have any Twitter presence.
Well, none that I can find right now. Again, if you have any tips or links send them in.
Here is a look at the candidates and their on-line presence – in alphabetical order…
Leo Abbott is the Country Liberal (there is no ‘Party’ in the CLP any more!) candidate for Lingiari. Leo has a Facebook page with 50 friends but not much content in the two and half years since it was founded. As the most recent post there notes, “You need to update. Hello last time on here was April 30. That was a nice day weatherwise.” In a post dated 9 April Leo shows a refreshing candour: “Well friends, if you haven’t already found out, I am running as a candidate for the Federal seat of Lingiari, and have been really busy, so I will be counting on your votes ha ha, I know some of you’s (sic) will want to debate…”
I haven’t been able to find any presence for Leo on Twitter and the CLP website has a candidate’s page for Leo with a short biography and a bunch of pretty dull press releases.
Trish Crossin is the incumbent Labor Senator for the NT. She has a strong Labor Party Facebook page that has some vigorous discussion and the usual re-vamped press releases but it is the version that only allows you to “like” rather than make a “friend” of the subject. As of this morning 368 people like Trish. There is also a Trish Crossin “community” Facebook page linked to Wikipedia material that is only very recent and has little content. I’ve not been able to find any Twitter address for Trish. There is a rather dull NT Labor page with the usual biographical guff about Trish here. At the last election Trish scored 47,205 votes representing 46.9% and worth 1.4 quotas and there is little chance that she will not be returned to the comfort of the red leather benches of the Upper House.
Dierdre Finter is an Independent candidate for Lingiari and, as we would expect from someone with a background in web design and editing she has a pretty strong web presence. Her candidate’s Facebook page kicked off in late June this year and currently has 111 members. Deirdre’s webpage is well-designed with a lot of interesting and relevant information and PDF copies of “The Lingiari Independent” a newsletter promoting her campaign. She most likely won’t take many votes off Warren Snowdon but she should introduce a few sparks of intelligent debate into what looks like being a drastically dull campaign for Lingiari.
Matthew Gardiner is Labor’s second Senate candidate in the NT. Because the NT only elects two Senators (and due to section 42 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act we make them run at every general election) and each of the two major parties never fail to get a quota, being first on their Senate list guarantees election – but also ensures that their second-choice candidates never get a guernsey. No disrespect to Matthew but he is really only there to fill out the numbers and a spot on the ballot paper and maybe get some experience for next time. In that sense Matthew may be the (long) coming man and possible future candidate for Trish Crossin’s seat on the red leather benches when (and if) she decides to step down after her long career in the Senate. As this Wikipedia page shows, Matthew has strong union and defence force connections and would be – assuming there is nothing untoward in his character or history – a strong future Senatorial or House of Representatives candidate. Matthew has a personal Facebook page with 239 friends and has some pretty interesting background material there that may warrant a bit of further examination in the near future. I’ve not been able to find any Twitter account for Matthew.
Natasha Griggs will be battling Labor’s Damian Hale for his seat of Solomon for the Country Liberals and by all accounts will make that race a close-run thing. Solomon includes the NT’s two largest population centres of Darwin and its satellite city Palmerston. Natasha is Palmerston’s Deputy-Mayor and has grabbed the campaigning nettle with both hands and looks very likely to topple Damien – though if you look at Anthony Green’s extrapolation of the most recent Newspoll at his site here on current polling Damien is likely to be returned with an increased majority of 2.5% rather than his wafer-thin current majority of 0.2%. Natasha’s personal Facebook page shows that she has 600 friends and contains a lot of recent posts and an interesting mix of the personal (taking her son to the AFL game to meet his footy heroes etc) and standard political rhetoric. Natasha’s Candidate’s Facebook page is liked by 431 people and the volume of recent posts shows just how busy she has been as a candidate since late April this year. Her CLP party candidate’s page is pretty standard stuff. I’ve not found any Twitter account for Natasha.
Damian Hale is the incumbent member for the seat of Solomon and will be running for his political life against Natasha Griggs. I’m based in Alice Springs so it is a bit hard to get a good grip on the day-to-day dynamics of a pollie’s performance on the ground – and that is a qualification I note in regard to my thoughts about Natasha Griggs as well. After the allocation of preferences in the 2007 election Damian squeaked in by a mere 196 votes over the CLP’s Dave Tollner and is at serious risk of being a oncer, particularly because – from my distant perspective here in Alice – he has been a rather lack-lustre member. And there isn’t a lot at his Facebook page, where Damian has 324 friends, to convince you otherwise nor at his official NT Labor candidate’s webpage or this Wikipedia site, which provides us with the one apparent humorous spark in Damian’s political life, an incident where he was involved in a pub-brawl with a prominent footballer. I couldn’t find any Twitter account for Damian.
Nigel Scullion is the incumbent CLP Senator for the NT and, like his Labor counterpart Trish Crossin, will be returned – unless he gets run over by the proverbial. I’ve had a go at Nigel from time to time over the years and though he is a nice enough bloke, I think he is a pretty ordinary politician. But in the NT ordinariness is no barrier to political success and Nigel is still in there banging away – though whether a lot of people are listening to what he has to say is another matter. His personal Facebook site is right up there in the friendship stakes among this mob with 725 friends, while his “Senators” Facebook page, which has only a few old posts, is only liked by 9 people. He has a campaign website that is well-designed and useful with lots of links to his activities as a Senator in the NT and in his role as shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, an issue close to his political heart. I haven’t been able to find a Twitter account for Nigel. At the last election he pulled substantially less than Trish Crossin, getting 40,250 votes or 40% of the overall votes for 1.2 of a quota.
Seranna Shutt launched her candidacy as the Senate candidate for the Sex Party in late June with a post on their blog – one of the few candidates to use that medium. As you can see by her comments and by this enrolment drive flyer the Sex Party has an innovative and imaginative approach to campaigning. Seranna’s Facebook page tops the list here with 796 friends and lots of varied content. I’ve not found any Twitter accounts for Seranna. And, while there was most likely little she could have done about it, two days before the election was called Seranna headed out of the country to Vienna as a delegate to the World AIDS Conference. And while she will miss the first two weeks of the campaign she is, more than just about any other candidate here, very well plugged into the web and has made a lot of posts about issues relevant to the campaign and the AIDS conference in the few days she has been away. One to watch, if only for the entertainment value. Seranna’s Twitter address is: @serannaasp. As of this afternoon Seranna has 12 followers, is following 42 people and has made 12 Tweets.
Warren Snowdon is the most experienced of all the campaigners in this election and should be returned in the seat of Lingiari, with a current majority of 11.2% that he should increase. He has a MySpace page, though the most recent entry is almost a year old and, like most MySpace pages, it looks clunky and very dated. Warren’s Labor Party candidate’s website is standard issue with lots of material and good photos but, like that of his Senate comrade above, it lacks imagination and interesting content. Warren’s personal Facebook page has 618 friends and a good mix of content submitted by them and the usual guff from Warren, his media and political advisers and the Labor Party. His “Warren Snowdon MP” candidates Facebook page is only a few months old, contains mainly content generated by him and his staff, but is pretty dull and is liked by 253 people. I’ve not found any Twitter accounts for Warren.
Warren H Williams is the Greens candidate for the Senate in the NT and should do well, particularly in central Australia where he is a familiar face. He should lift raise the Green’s Senate vote from the rather low 8.8% of the vote they attracted in the 2007 Federal election. But he stands a snowflakes chance in hell of winning a place on the red leather benches. And, while the Greens have plenty of non-financial resources that they can throw behind Warren H (as opposed to Warren S above) there will be some real doubts in many minds about his abilities as a politician, of which there is little evidence to date. But there is no doubting his ability and popularity as a musician. Hell, if “friends” were votes, Warren H would be streeting his opposition right now. His personal Facebook page has 387 friends, his recently created Green’s candidate Facebook page has 190 people that like it, there is a Wikipedia-based “Community” Facebook page that has 33 friends and his MySpace site has a whopping 1,709 friends – including such luminaries as Julia “Lets Move Australia Forward” Gillard, Ronnie Milsap, Sting and Kenny Rogers. With friends like that who needs voters! And Warren H also has a personal website where you can buy what he has to sell! But Warren H, like all of the current candidates, has no Twitter presence. Oh, and my only suggestion to Warren H is that when you do a campaign launch, with national press, radio and TV present, at least have a shave and grab a clean shirt… Warren’s Twitter address is: @warrenhsenate. As of this afternoon he has 16 followers and is following 2 people.