Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

2014 columns, Politics

How Cathy McGowan won the donations race

by David Donaldson , March 3, 2014Leave a comment

ballot

 

The now-Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, appears to have raised the most in donations of any independent ever to have won in a federal election.

McGowan, widely known for having put her disliked predecessor Sophie Mirabella out of a job, managed to raise $136,956 in the lead-up to last year’s federal election, according to Australian Electoral Commission donation disclosure data. Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie came a respectable second, garnering $109,141.

McGowan would have taken out the top spot for money raised, except for the astronomical results of two NSW candidates, Nathan Wade and Lawrie McKinna. Amazingly, although each was given $371,987, neither won their seat. They weren’t even close – Bracken received around 8.23% of the vote, McKinna 8.71%.

What is even more astounding is that both of these candidates accepted donations from only one person – businessman and horse racer John Singleton.  Disregarding the particular qualities of those candidates, it’s reassuring that the attempts of one eye-wateringly rich man to sway the path of democracy appeared to make little difference to the outcome (perhaps Singleton needs some tips from Clive Palmer).

These numbers give a glimpse into the arms race that is political donations. The amount given to the big-name independents Bob Katter, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie in 2010, and Katter and Windsor in 2007, were mostly a fair bit lower than McGowan’s – ranging between $13,575 and Windsor’s impressive 2007 total of $123,850.

Unfortunately it’s hard to compare independents with party politicians, as those associated with a party are not required to disclose the amount given to and spent by each candidate. It’s almost certain that the Liberal party spent more promoting Sophie Mirabella in Indi than Cathy McGowan ever could have. The Liberal campaign included polling (deemed too expensive by the independent), as well as far more TV ads and mailouts than camp McGowan could afford.

Donation and spending disclosure data for party-affiliated politicians are only available on a party level. It would be more difficult to account for party spending by electorate, but doing so would enhance transparency. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, though – the rules are, after all, written primarily by party politicians.

The wave of support generated for Cathy McGowan meant that many supporters were willing to pay for t-shirts, badges and corflutes – something most Labor and Liberal candidates could only dream of.

McGowan’s disclosure data are notable for another reason – the number of people who chose to give money. Whereas most independents have, at most, around 150 donors, Cathy’s campaign took money from 1,120 people. This was partly due to the campaign’s embrace of technological innovation – crowdfunding, for example.

But the technology itself won’t be very useful if no one is willing to give. The McGowan campaign’s big advantage was the sense of excitement created around the candidate. McGowan is charismatic, well-known in the area, had a smart campaign team – and is not Sophie Mirabella, known for receiving Tony Windsor’s ‘nasty prize’ of Australian politics.

Although McGowan assiduously avoided speaking ill of Mirabella in public, one of the key drivers of the campaign was clearly dissatisfaction with the then-Member for Indi. And not only in the electorate itself. The excitement generated on social media and eventually in the mainstream media, combined with the encouragement to give money online, undoubtedly translated into non-Indi residents donating out of a desire to see Mirabella knocked off the perch.

Sometimes David really does beat Goliath.

David Donaldson is a Master of International Relations graduate who lives in Melbourne. He tweets @davidadonaldson.

ACO logo




loitering-cover-cmyk-570

Sam van Zweden

The Writer at the Centre of the Essay: Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering

Loitering is Charles D’Ambrosio’s quietly brave collection of experimental essays. It doesn’t announce itself noisily, but associations slide sideways through the essays in unexpected ways. This collection is lyric in both senses – freely associative and loose, it borrows from the world, trying meaning on for size, producing metaphors and connections wherever it sees fit. Read more »

discworld

Elizabeth Flux

Footnote to a life: How Terry Pratchett kept me from going postal

If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, then teenage me would have been the steamroller to Terry Pratchett’s somewhat plagiarised tarmac. In the ten years since I first picked up The Fifth Elephant, my work has been littered with Pratchettisms to varying degrees. Read more »

Patricia-Highsmith2

James Tierney

The Necessary Paradoxes of Patricia Highsmith

A highly regarded author of complex psychological thrillers, including The Talented Mr Ripley and Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith’s fiction comes freighted with a heady mix of cross-purposes and intimate alienations. Read more »

Rebecca Shaw

TERF War: Transphobia in the LGBTQI community

I started to realise that I was ‘not like other girls’ about the time I hit puberty. From that point on I underwent an extensive and daunting process to emerge from my closeted cocoon into the beautiful lesbian butterfly I am today. An important part of that development was realising – mostly via the Internet (or very occasionally through people I met in real life) – that there were people like me all over the world. Read more »

9807778273_afe6ec792d_z

Rebecca Shaw

Breaking the Celluloid Ceiling

We are still at a point where far less than half the movies we see have a clear female protagonist, even though women are half of the population. If women as an ENTITY are not properly represented, their stories not told, what chance then do women of colour have? Read more »

article-2301242-18FA52E4000005DC-314_470x763

Rebecca Shaw

An Inconvenient Truth: Social stigma and menstruation

If you have heard of menstruation, you would know that it is an essential process in a little tiny thing called the EXISTENCE AND CONTINUATION OF HUMAN LIFE, and it is something that most (not all) women experience for about five days every month for a large part of their lives. It is a topic (besides shopping, lol) that women think about frequently. Read more »

flock_roof

Anwen Crawford

Don’t be Sheepish: Why Ewe Should See Shaun the Sheep Movie

Shaun the Sheep Movie is the latest feature-length production from Aardman Animations (the folk who brought us Chicken Run), and it is a delight. Borrow a young relative for cover if you must, but believe me, you are not too cool for a kid’s movie when it’s this much fun. Read more »

9331818982_322b389ff2_z

Annabel Brady-Brown

The blue pill or the red pill? In defence of highbrow film

Cinema is a powerful medium. Going to the movies, be it a Lav Diaz epic or a Michael Bay blockbuster, is an act of submission. You hand over $15 and the whole mash of your brain/senses/heart/dreams for ninety minutes. Read more »

girlwalkshomealoneatnight

Anwen Crawford

Bad Cities

A Most Violent Year has an atmosphere of all-pervading dread, like a film noir, as if the polluted air of New York itself was causing people to act against their better intentions. Even more haunting and more noir is A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, a memorably audacious debut feature from American-Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour. Read more »

empire-tv-review-fox

Anwen Crawford

Rise of an Empire

Watching Empire, I wondered why there haven’t been more television shows about record labels, the music industry being the cesspit of venality that it is. Forget TV dramas about police departments and hospital wards – a show about a record label comes with all that conflict, plus outfits, plus songs. Read more »

video-undefined-22D54AFA00000578-784_636x358

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Insufferable assholes and grown up Girls

Yes, our girls are growing, learning, discovering. But all they’re really discovering is how toxic and unheroic they are, and how to use that to their advantage. They’re not going to grow out of their asshole tendencies, because they are actually assholes. Read more »

agent-carter-7683

Danielle Binks

Agent Carter and the future of the female superhero

Agent Carter has been described ‘a Triumph for Women, Marvel and TV,’ and heralded as an important new chapter in comics culture. If this supposedly groundbreaking new show fails, does it spell doom for the future of female-led superhero franchises? Read more »

jakobson0052

Katie Williams

Storytelling vs. interactivity: What makes a highbrow game?

What makes a game ‘highbrow’? We don’t have solid criteria for deciding conclusively which games are masterpieces, and which are just dumb, explosive fun. Read more »

ss_f6a450fbf737eb04c58b973f72e8817bb2b50285.600x338

Katie Williams

Brain Candy: Are game jams diluting the potential of video games?

In a world where YouTube gameplay videos narrated by hollering amateurs hold as much clout – if not more – than professional game critics, I worry that developers may be swayed to choose an easier, unimaginative, and more vacuous path to success. Read more »

cher_horowitz_closet-010_2

Katie Williams

Fashion Forward: How hidden algorithms are dressing up technology

Though we increasingly rely on technology to simplify our lives, we still want to believe that behind the scenes is a happy, human face, rather than an impassive machine that does the dirty work for us. Read more »

16475519129_bb489cf4ce_o

Jane Howard

Creative Space: The secret power of community theatres

Theatre is inextricably tied to space, and the best theatre spaces become more than buildings. They become communities of like-minded people: of artists and of audience members, intermingling their ideas and their lives. Read more »

Tessa Waters stars in Womanz

Jane Howard

Fringe Feminism: Women, comedy and performance art

Taken together, the work of these female comics and performers loudly proclaims that their ideas about gender, femininity, performance and comedy are not diametrically opposed. It is because of their performance backgrounds that their shows are hilarious, not in spite of them. Read more »

Before Us_3

Jane Howard

Stuart Bowden’s Unfamiliar, Universal Worlds

It’s hard to classify the work of Stuart Bowden. His one-person storytelling theatre works are at once hilarious and melancholy. They exist in a particular space of fringe theatre: intricately crafted stories built for small rooms & small audiences, they lift and rise that audience, gathering us all up in the magic of stories & the closeness they can breed. Read more »