The injection of attack advertising and scare tactics into the campaign for the seat of Shepparton is both ugly and unwarranted.
Mud-slinging in politics is nothing new but the tactics outlined in the lead story in today’s News mark a new low for this electorate.
We have received several reports from readers of unwanted ‘‘robocalls’’ being made to them, asking loaded and pointed questions (without context) about the voting record of sitting member, Independent Suzanna Sheed, during her four-year term — including issues that had nothing at all to do with this electorate and have no impact on it.
While the robocalls have been circulating for at least a week, television advertisements with similar themes are more recent.
Chief among claims in these adverts are that Ms Sheed has ‘‘zilch to spend’’ — and while it is obviously true that Ms Sheed is not aligned to a political party — so has no budget of her own — one only needs to look at the more than $660million of critical spend announced for Shepparton during her term. Some zilch!
Opponents of Ms Sheed’s have distanced themselves from the robocalls, though The News has ascertained that the business behind the calls, Constituent Management Services, is linked to the NSW chapter of the National Party.
It is unfortunate that the TV advertisements came on the heels of an excellent candidates’ forum in Shepparton on Wednesday night — a forum characterised by strong debate, discussion of policy, pledges and a focus on the best outcomes for Shepparton.
As declared by the forum’s moderator Sam Birrell on the night, it was an example of open democracy at work.
We welcome strong, healthy and serious debate. With eight days until the election, the focus should be on what each candidate can bring to this region, both personally and in terms of policies and priorities, so that voters can make the most informed choice.
In our view, the tactics that have emerged in recent days are distasteful, unnecessary and designed to mislead.
We encourage voters to see them for what they are.