Opinion

Closepredictionsarepleasing

By Shepparton News

How did you go picking the Shepparton district election results?

My column predictions (Murray Willaton was yet to nominate) a month before polling day were okay in order position, winner’s primary vote percentage and Coalition preference leakage (Nationals to independent), but I short-changed Cheryl Hammer’s creditable firsts by five percentage points and over-quoted Peter Schwarz to the tune of a massive six per cent (a real surprise).

The published prediction, which pleased me most (as an opinion columnist surely I’m entitled to have an opinion), was my estimate Suzanna Sheed would garner 38 per cent of the primaries, when she gave me an absolute flogging by returning a mammoth 38.4, putting me right back in my box.

As forecast, when it came to two candidate preferred tallies, it was always going to be Hammer versus Sheed — with Sheed clearly the front runner, pretty much the favourite from the start, not to downplay the former’s excellent personal performance.

●News last week SPCA was not closing but was up for sale — its profitability not in the black — was a cause for community concern.

Predictably, there was speculation from one quarter that council’s rejection of the company’s request to close Andrew Fairley Ave, effectively making the plant’s land holding contiguous, may have been a significant factor in Coca Cola Amatil’s poor Shepparton trading results. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

Underlying the thrust of a lengthy post on social media from the mayor of the time, was the implication the avenue needed to be ceded to private enterprise and hang the 8000 locals who used it daily. Those opposing the closure were ‘‘active and noisy’’ — the squeaky wheel group.

Somehow I recall the term ‘‘silly people’’ being used at the time, an utterance raising the ire of many constituents — possibly contributing to a political bruising at the following council election.

The former mayor’s concluding remarks?

‘‘If SPCA had not been denied the opportunity to invest the many more millions of dollars they originally planned on doing, we might not be in the position we are now, with the possible loss of a major employer and an iconic Shepparton brand’’ and ‘‘councillors at that time were persuaded by the ‘squeaky wheels’ group and that was their choice to make. But are those wheels about to fall off as a result of that decision? We will just have to wait and see.’’

What do you think?

●Victoria’s controversial Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed 47 votes to 37 last November, after a conscience vote in the Lower House of Parliament following a marathon debate which lasted more than 24 hours.

Most Labor MPs supported the bill, along with two Greens, two independents, including Ms Sheed, and a handful of Coalition MPs. The bill was subsequently endorsed by the Upper House and is expected to be effective in June.

Why then does a mob like Right to Life Australia Inc. waste heaps of money taking out half-page advertisements in local newspapers, together with a follow-up, double-sided, coloured, glossy, folded A4 pamphlet letter-box drop with two main bold messages — Euthanasia is toxic and Vote Sheed last?

Was that propaganda onslaught a success — state-wide or locally?

About as successful as the expensive (seemingly anonymous) anti-Sheed television campaign, believed to have connection with some local taxi personnel.

One local lesson from November 24 is that we country bumkins are, thankfully, yet to extensively embrace negativity and sectional retribution in political advertising.

●Why, when it’s plainly and mathematically obvious, on a two-party preferred electoral vote count, you’ve run a clear second, do you not gracefully concede defeat? Search me.

Of course losing is disappointing — particularly if you’ve been buoyed to expectations of winning.

However bitter the pill, you just have to cop it sweet, no matter what you’re encouraged to do by some individuals in your support team.

Overall, most committed team volunteers deserve the chance to be humbly and publicly thanked via that media opportunity.

There are other benefits to the unsuccessful candidate and team; those arising from helping to end the pain and put aside public speculation as to why the delayed concession.

Then there’s the future, the concept of voter memory if the candidate was to stand at the next election.

Then there’s the last possible missed chance to address the two-party 44 per cent of the punters who supported, while election fever is still running hot — those who watch the news and read the paper.

Then there’s the aspect of amiable respect for the successful candidate — an opportunity of a gracious gesture that seldom goes unnoticed at concession time.

Bear in mind, though, a concession is not compulsory, it’s purely optional, merely good, sound electoral etiquette, me thinks.

In cases I’ve known, it’s not the candidates’ decisions to hang on to clutching an elusive straw, it’s more likely to be the all-wise back room party dinosaurs and their infinite tactical ‘‘wisdom’’ that’s to blame.

Second-placed Ms Hammer was the only unsuccessful aspirant to attend yesterday’s Shepparton poll declaration — she spoke with poise and acceptance.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.