They say silence speaks louder than words.
In the seat of Bendigo West, the silence is deafening.
Less than four months from the state election on November 24, the Liberals are yet to announce a candidate to challenge incumbent Labor MP Maree Edwards, who holds the seat by a comfortable margin of 12 per cent.
The Greens recently showed their hand, announcing former Bendigo mayor Laurie Whelan as a candidate earlier this month, in doing so perhaps providing a semblance of democracy in the lead up to the election.
Yes Bendigo West might be considered a safe seat, but many a safe seat has been lost in the past.
The Liberals have maintained they will run a candidate, voters just don’t know who.
In Bendigo East, candidates with lower profiles – Ian Ellis (Liberals) and Gaelle Broad (Nationals) – were announced in April and March respectively, in doing so giving them time to bed in with their electorate.
Bendigo West is also ripe for campaigns.
Marong Primary School needs cash for a development and the Mount Alexander Shire needs financial support in a number of areas. The Castlemaine Art Museum could also be showered with promises. Perhaps the Liberals don’t have anyone to call upon? If that’s the case, what does it say about our local political environment. While the Nationals might not field a candidate – and they have remained tight lipped thus far – it makes sense for the Liberals to do so.
Campaigns are expensive – someone quoted close to $100,000 to do a campaign well – but larger political parties are also paid for the votes they receive.
Under Victoria’s current funding arrangements, a political party that attracts more than four per cent of the vote at an election is paid $1.79 per vote.
However a plan to increase that amount to $6 per vote in the lower house and $3 per vote in the upper house is before parliament in the form of the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, but the reforms will likely not apply at the November election.