Polling pain? Then play the blame game

MARTIN Gilmour says: There are lots of reasons why politicians lose popularity and elections.

Sometimes they lose touch with their electorate and think they know better than the voters.

Sometimes they get so wrapped up in the politics of Canberra or Hobart that they forget to doorknock and find out what matters in the suburbs.

A week ago The Examiner commissioned a poll of voters in Bass and it found a massive swing away from Labor's Geoff Lyons to Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic.

It was a particularly large sample of 543 voters when normally 250 is regarded as an accurate measure, and particularly timely given that we now have a September 14 election date.

Turning a 6.7 per cent election day margin into a 20.3 per cent deficit was a massive rejection of Labor by Bass voters.

However, it was with some amusement that we discovered why Mr Lyons was doing so poorly in the polls - he claimed that it was the media's fault.

Mr Lyons lashed out at the media for failing to cover his achievements, which he listed as "rebuilding most primary schools in Northern Tasmania, the federal government's $325 million health bailout for Tasmania and securing three regional health governing bodies".

Mr Lyons is clearly chronologically challenged.

Labor's curiously named Building the Education Revolution indeed spent $16.2billion on schools around the nation and was part of the stimulus package to ward off the global financial crisis.

It seemed every school, even those ear- marked for closure by Nick McKim, received a new multi-purpose hall.

Unfortunately for Mr Lyons, applications for BER funding closed in August 2009 - he wasn't elected to Federal Parliament until August 2010.

Yes, he has been a frequent opener of BER projects and issuing press releases about these openings has been the backbone of his media campaign but, unfortunately, he wasn't even elected when those decisions were made.

According to Mr Lyons his second major achievement, apparently ignored by the media, was the federal government's $325million bailout for Tasmania's health system.

That was, in fact, front page news in The Examiner because this newspaper had been campaigning on the issue for months after the state government slashed health funding by $400 million.

Unfortunately for Mr Lyons, every Labor MHR, MHA and senator also claimed credit for securing that $325million, and if you believe Denison independent Andrew Wilkie's press releases he was solely responsible.

And, at the last count, we still haven't received all of the promised funds.

Mr Lyons' final achievement was "securing three regional health governing bodies", although Tasmanian Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne claims credit for this.

So there you have it, politics 101 - if you don't like the poll figures, blame the media.

Martin Gilmour

Martin Gilmour


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