The program I had been invited to was a forum on health and education. As a result I had done some homework on those issues. However I never got the chance to comment on our health or education platforms. The question that was posed for me (pretty much) was why the Australian Democrats even bother standing given our recent polling performance. I think I responded as well as I could within the circumstances.
I had been warned that it may happens as that is exactly what our candidate was asked during the 2004 Federal Election. Back then we had suffered much internal tension resulting in having three Parliamentary Leaders in as many years. Now however we have put all that behind us and have had the same Leader and Deputy Leader for over three years. We have moved on but the media are still somewhat stuck in a timewarp.
I am happy that I got in my comment that the media reporting on the imminent demise of the party is a "self-fulfilling prophecy". I stressed that all we can do is campaign on our record and that the rest is in the hands of the electorate. More on what I think of this topic is written here.
The Family First candidate was given an even more difficult time than me! John Faine was only interested in two things - the ethnicity of the candidate and his religious affiliations.
The candidate is visibly Asian and Faine asked whether he intended to make use of his background in garnering a particular ethnic vote. The candidate could only respond that he was born here and that he was interested in the votes of anyone who supported his party. I cannot particularly see how this question was relevant to anything at all. But then talk-back radio is all to do with simplification and emotionalism - even on the ABC.
The religious connections of Family First are of more relevance because voters are interested in the nature of this new party and frankly many of its pronouncements only make sense once one factors in the religious identity of its support-base. For instance how does the banning of nude bathing make any difference to the average Australian family? It only matters if one is a wowser who objects to these things happening even if one never has to see it. The Family First candidate was somewhat evasive on the religious question and Faine was dogged in pursuing it. Personally I would have preferred it if he had let that line of questioning go and focus rather on the platform of Family First as there is plenty of fault to be found there. But once more talk-back radio has more to do with personality than policy.
The short interview was a tense yet worthwhile experience. It is important I feel to let the electorate know we are campaigning and every bit helps. I was even approached by a lovely elderly person afterwards who liked my presentation and enjoyed discussing those health and education issues with me. I even gave him one of my pamphlets!