The view from Gallipoli Street

Our survey showed the result is far from clear, with nine voters still undecided.

Of the nine, four voted Liberal in 1980, three voted Labor, one voted Democrat and one couldn’t remember.

Most of the others said they made up their minds before the election was called or soon after.

Very few had been influenced they said, by the election speeches, the intense campaigning or the heavy advertising.

Several, including some Labor supporters, did express concern about the “big spending” policies of Labor.

The personality cult clearly dominates the thinking of a high proportion of voters — and a majority saw Bob Hawke’s leadership of Labor as a plus for the party.

Indeed Bob Hawke’s leadership is the key factor in persuading one couple, who usually vote Liberal, to switch to Labor this time.

“Unemployment is not an issue.” Bob Kane, 35.

“Unemployment is not an issue.” Bob Kane, 35.Credit:Swinging voters Des and Doris Quinn.
Gerrit Alan Fokkema

“Hayden was too wishy-washy,” said one woman.

On the other hand, some Labor voters are sorry that Hayden was toppled. “I would have preferred Hayden to lead the party,” said Cas Aarts, 36.

Many voters also mentioned that Hawke was “untested” and “unproven,” but there was a very high degree of dislike of Malcolm Fraser, described as “arrogant”, “unscrupulous”, “ruthless”, “condescending and sarcastic”. Yet also a grudging admiration and respect for him as a leader.

Asked what they thought were the most important issues, most voters were at a loss.

Only six mentioned unemployment without being prompted and those who did tended to be mainly struggling families. Five also mentioned job security and 10 said economic recovery.

Inflation was offered by only one person as a key issue.

Social welfare and health issues came up infrequently—two women mentioned reform of medical care and benefits as vital.

The political science student mentioned poverty as the key issue.

The Liberal Party’s TV commercials came under strong criticism from more than half the residents.

The two advertisements mentioned were the one showing prominent sportspeople and the one saying the Hawke campaign is a replay of the Whitlam show.

“It’s dirty pool,” said Mr Aarts. Other residents, including several uncommitted voters, described the advertisements as “dirty politics.”

The sportspeople ad — showing Lisa Forrest, Tracy Wickham and Robert de Castella at the Commonwealth Games—aroused even more anger.

“Fraser’s manipulating the sportspeople. It’s as if he’s trying to have their reputations rub off on him. I think it’s terrible,” said an 18-year-old university student who plans to vote Labor.

On the other hand, few people volunteered a comment about Labor’s TV commercials, suggesting that they have been perhaps less than memorable.

The Liberal Party’s slogan, “We’re Not Waiting for the World” has mystified a large number of the residents of Gallipoli Street.

“No waiting for what? It doesn’t make sense,” said Michelle Armstrong, 22. “But then, this is a stupid election.”

Des and Doris Quinn are middle-aged swinging voters who after flirting with Labor in 1972, have voted Liberal ever since.

This time they plan to return to Labor — and for them Bob Hawke’s leadership was the deciding factor.

Apart from Mr Hawke’s personal attractiveness they both believe he understands “the workers”’— Des and Doris point to Australia’s economic problems as reason for putting the Liberal Party out of office.

Des, a self-employed builder, has not had much work in the last few years. “Fraser’s had seven years. If we vote him back, the kids, well, they won’t have jobs for three years.”

Doris said: “I like Fraser personally. I’ll be sad to seem him go. But the way the country is now it’s impossible to vote for him. He has put my husband out of work, and my son, he’s a panelbeater out of work.”

Doris works in the boot trade. She believes many of the country’s economic problems are caused by a flood of cheap imports from Asia as well as too many immigrants.

Swinging voters Des and Doris Quinn.

Swinging voters Des and Doris Quinn.Credit:Gerrit Alan Fokkema

Marina Booth, a 24-year-old nurse who rents an old brick house, voted Labor in 1977. She didn’t vote in 1980 because she was in England but thinks she will change to Liberal this time.

“I’m not politically inclined and I want to see what the parties have to offer, but I think Fraser has run the economy adequately.

“The main thing is to get economic viability back again, and I think he might do it. Hawke hasn’t proved himself.

“He’s going to spend a lot of money and I don’t know where it’s all coming from. I’m cynical about both parties, but I think the Liberals are the best of a bad bunch.”

Bob Cane is a classic swinger. In 1980 he voted Liberal, but finds it a tough choice this year. At 35, after service in the Army, he’s desperately trying to build up a business as a fencing contractor. He can see reasons for voting both Liberal and Labor and says he will make up his mind a week or so before the election.

It may come down to his perception of the leaders. Mr Hawke, he said, has a much better appeal than Mr Fraser, who appeared to him “blatantly arrogant.”

“Getting the economy going again is the basis of everything. Unemployment’s not an issue, that’s a farce.”

Mrs Cheryl Cane voted Liberal in 1980 but, like Bob, she has not quite made up her mind.

“I’m tending towards the Liberals but I’d quite like to give the others a chance to prove themselves. I’m not sure.”

Dr Alan Clements, a retired psychiatrist, voted Labor in 1980 but described himself as a swinging voter.

He is undecided, but thinks he may somewhat unenthusiastically vote for Labor.

“I’m not so worried about Hawke’s spending promises — because I can’t decide if they can be paid for or not — and I’m quite willing to be bribed by tax cuts and so forth.”

He thinks Fraser is a tired man and there is a dullness about his campaign — it doesn’t have much bounce.”

He’d be happier if Bill Hayden were leader of the Labor Party. “Bob Hawke presents himself as the saviour, but he may turn out to be a saviour with feet of clay.”

He “reluctantly admires” Fraser because, he said, “in the political sphere motives are unscrupulous and dominated by pressure groups and it takes an utter bastard to see through the other bastards who are trying to manipulate you.”

But he is unhappy about the way Fraser has handled the economy and feels there is a lot of psychology involved in restoring the economy.

“I think Hawke might be more likely to engender confidence than Fraser, to talk up the economy which is what needs to be done.”

Moreover, he said, “I have never forgiven Fraser for what he did to Whitlam in 1975.”

Nevertheless, he is still undecided.

An immigrant couple who both described themselves as swingers said they voted Liberal in 1980 but were undecided how to vote this time.

“I think Fraser has run the economy adequately.” Marina Booth, 24.

“I think Fraser has run the economy adequately.” Marina Booth, 24.Credit:Gerrit Alan Fokkema

“We don’t take much interest in politics,” said the husband, who asked that their names not be used. “But what is Hawke all about? I don’t think Labor can do much about the economy because it’s not a strong party.

“Fraser is the best man because he is a capitalist and he works for business, which provides more jobs. If Labor comes in, the economic mess will be worse.”

His wife said: “I don’t see how Labor can change anything — it’s a world-wide recession. Why not try someone new? But I just don’t know.”

A 42-year-old bricklayer, Luigi, said he could not remember whom he voted for in 1980.

As for March 5, Luigi said that he would decide his vote on the day. His wife, Rita, whom the Herald was unable to interview, will, he said, do the same.

While Luigi refused to say which party he favoured, he sounded a note of caution about Labor: “You know what happened the last time when Labor got in.”

A middle-aged man who also declined to be named, said: “This is a beauty of a seat where the politicians really have to work for your vote. They’ll have to work for mine. I like to boast that my vote really counts.”

He voted Democrat in 1980, but i would not say whom he gave his second preference to, nor whom he would vote for this time.

“I think Hawke and Fraser are both smart. This election’s a line-ball between them.”

His wife, who also would not give her name, voted Labor in 1980 but doesn’t know how she will vote this time.


“I am disgusted with Fraser, who I think is sarcastic and condescending, and I think Hawke is more in touch with people at the grass roots level, though he has to be tested yet.”

But while disliking Mr Fraser, she said she usually voted for the local candidate who most appealed to her — and Gary Punch, the Labor candidate, “doesn’t appeal to me.”

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