How to run an election stunt.
In Queensland, Australia local goverment elections are held every four years.
Incumbent councillors that have not been doing their job very well need fluffers. Something to give the impression that you are a great performer, when you aren’t.
At election time this is particularly important for your chances of re-election.
To work properly the fluffer needs to be impressive. It is no good announcing that the pavement in Smith Street will be repaired under your leadership.
You need something big, new, and impressive. You do run the risk though, when announcing that you will spend $2billion to build a world trade tower in Ipswich that ratepayers will wonder where the money is coming from.
There are two ways around the perception of profligate waste. The first is to choose a project that has been done with success somewhere else. The second is to choose your language carefully.
This is where the phrases “fully costed” and “fully funded” are handy. Fortunately both phrases mean absolutely nothing, but they are soothing to the electorate. Don’t forget to throw in “it won’t cost ratepayers a cent.” (As you have no intention of following through with your stunt this can be said with real conviction.)
To have impact your announcement should be close to the election, but there is a problem, one that seems insurmountable, but isn’t.
During the caretaker period Councillors and the Mayor are not allowed to make any major policy decisions.
“Local governments should prepare for the caretaker period by planning to make any major policy decision before or after the election period.”
What a pain! Seems to have spoiled our plan completely.
Clever Councillors can get around this. Here’s how.
Council owns a one dollar Proprietary Limited company, which it uses to play real estate developer.
Councillors appoint themselves as directors, why not?
Directors can make policy decisions whenever they like. When you make the big announcement put on your directors hat. Problem solved.
You announce the most fabulous thing, you have the whole front page of the local newspaper, a bit of cover on Statewide TV, all the other papers pick it up and run stories, the public are thrilled and your smiling face is everywhere.
There is a little problem. As a director of a company you are not to improperly use your position to gain an advantage for yourself or someone else. But in reality these things are never reported to ASIC so who cares.
By the time the next election is due no-one will remember your old stunt and you will need a bit of fluffing up again.
Say if your old stunt was a lagoon for example, you still have the land, why not try for a performing arts centre! The watercolours could easily be ready by 2020.