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Who’ll get there first?

16 May 2019 at 7:30 am
Jo Scard
In elections it’s never over until you get there, writes Fifty Acres founder and chief executive officer Jo Scard.

Jo Scard | 16 May 2019 at 7:30 am


Who’ll get there first?
16 May 2019 at 7:30 am

In elections it’s never over until you get there, writes Fifty Acres founder and chief executive officer Jo Scard.

If you’ve been watching the election goings on, as I have, we will all need a good sleep-in on Sunday (unless, of course, you need to be up at 9am to watch ABC Insiders, which rather scuppers that delicious idea).

It seems to have been going on for months, not just for the five weeks of the election campaign, doesn’t it?

I think the exhaustion has been amplified because of the intensity of advertising and social chatter. There’s a lot riding on this one, and it might be close. The swing won’t be consistent and in marginals and states across the country, you can bet that party officials will be campaigning hard right up until the very last moment.

If you’ve done a deep dive on the numbers and seats you’ll know that, on paper, it’s difficult for the Coalition to win from the current numbers. There are three new seats that have been created in a redistribution by the Australian Electoral Commission – these are all expected to be Labor – and one has been removed, a Liberal seat. The implications of all that is that the Coalition needs to take a number of seats back from Labor and win one or two more to be able to get there. But, based on the polls it’s either closer than everyone thought, or different marginals are swinging wildly in one direction or another.

Polls are typically only a 1,000 to 1,500 sample size, so can never be perfect. On election night, we’re polling millions. There are informal votes, protest votes and votes for obscure independents. It goes off, and people in election parties around the country are sitting on the edge of their seats trying to hear the oracle Antony Green on the telly.

In elections, though, it’s never over until you get there. Things can get wobbly in the last few days, media scrutiny reaches fever pitch and social media goes into overdrive. When and if stuff-ups happen, they can go viral and things can go pear shaped. People hold their breaths.

Whatever the swing, whatever the result, in my humble opinion, you can expect the rise and rise of independent MPs and candidates to be not just “a thing” but a fixture in the federal parliament forever. A bit like reclaiming our lives from the clutches of social media, normal peeps are reclaiming their ability to make a genuine choice if they feel like it, and that means choosing high calibre independents if one is presented to them.

My suggestion for this week, if you’re up for it, is to keep watching and reading and trying to get a handle on where the main parties have landed on policy commitments in your space. Keep across the last minute multiple palavers if you can tolerate it. Do a yoga class, take the dog for a walk or do the grocery shopping and wait it out. Remember to vote, formally, so you have your say.

Next week is a very different bet and by the next time I write we will know who got over the finish line first. Get to grips with what’s happened and fall back on the planning you’ve done (read my earlier pieces archived here there are whole lot of top tips there).

To help focus your post-election efforts I will be holding a series of half-day face-to-face Fifty Acres Academy workshops all over the country in May and June.

If you’re a not for profit or for-good business or organisation, the workshops will help you frame your post-election action by guiding you through the steps needed to develop an end-to-end government engagement strategy for success in 2019 and beyond.

More information about the post-election workshops here:

If you want help to navigate the political landscape, or come up with a winning engagement or strategic communications strategy, get in touch with Jo Scard at Fifty Acres on 02 6281 7350 or visit

Jo Scard  |  @ProBonoNews

Jo Scard is the founder and managing director of Fifty Acres.

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