Menzies campaign update: Kevin onto our signs, encouraging poll, HTV design, Leader battle, call for volunteers and Carol Schwartz backing

June 17, 2016

Dear donors, supporters, friends, family and volunteers past and present,

With 16 days to go, we're feeling good about the prospects of making a big impact taking on Kevin Andrews in Menzies on July 2.

The response on the first two days of early voting has been very encouraging and the fact that Kevin himself has put in about 8 hours at the Manningham United Church early voting centre in East Doncaster suggests that he knows there's some real competition in Menzies for the first time since he won it more than 25 years ago.

Kevin has been commendably polite at pre-poll, chatting away with all booth workers and was friendly towards our 14 year old daughter Laura when she did the final half hour session in the fading light last night. However, he was just seen this morning brandishing a hammer on the corner of Williamsons Rd and Foote St in Templestowe where some adjustments were made to one of our "Fake Liberal" signs. Click here to see the result.

It seems the strategy of ignoring our campaign might be changing, but to have to do this personally suggests there is not a lot of energetic local Liberal Party support for Kevin after 25 years representing Menzies.

Encouraging polling

With the support of a third party, we commissioned a Reachtel poll on Monday night and it showed our Menzies primary vote was comparable with the Greens, whilst Kevin's 59% primary vote in 2013 is down heavily and poised to head into the 40s.

This poll was taken before 42,000 flyers were delivered across Menzies by PMP on Tuesday and Wednesday. You can see part of that flyer on our Mayne4Menzies facebook page.

A winning scenario comes into play when Kevin's vote gets below 45% and out vote tops 15%, so we're more than halfway there as we crank up the momentum over the final fortnight.

The most striking result of the Reachtel poll was the lack of support for Kevin's man Tony Abbott when compared with Malcolm Turnbull as preferred Prime Minister. This is the key to shifting Liberal votes as the only overt Turnbull supporter in the Menzies field.

We've got 200 new and different posters being delivered tomorrow and a second $5000 whole electorate flyer will be distributed in the final week of the campaign. We also have this full full page ad appearing on page 4 of next week's Melbourne Weekly Eastern.

All of this activity is only possible because almost 100 people have now donated to our campaign, as is disclosed on this unprecedented real-time register of campaign contributions. If you'd like to join that list, just follow the links and instructions at the top of the donations register.

The diversity of our support has been remarkable, from councillors, to Liberal Party members, corporate governance experts, locals, school mates, anti-pokies campaigners, angry women and yesterday a $1000 contribution from a prominent ASX100 director.

Advice on design for election day how to vote card

All of our design issues are sorted with newspaper ads, flyers, t-shirts and posters.

The only outstanding issue is the 40,000 election day how to vote cards which we will be getting printed next week.

Click here to see what we are currently distributing at the early voting centre and let us know your thoughts on how we should play it. The Turnbull vs Abbott point is coming through very strongly in the polling, as is the distaste about Kevin taking donations from pokies lobbyists such as Clubs NSW. There's also the question of how strongly we present as a Liberal supporter. Given the guarantee to support a Turnbull minority government if elected, we reckon that point can be pushed pretty hard.

Bumped from p4 to p20 twice - time for a refund on $10,000 News Corp spend

If you make a commercial agreement to purchase two successive full page ads which very specifically identify that they will appear on page 4, what should happen if the publisher later dumps them on page 20 and even gives over page 4 to chief rival Kevin Andrews your biggest competitor on one of the weeks? Disappointingly, that is what has happened with News Corp's widely read local paper, The Manningham Leader, which led to this email to their regional sales director on Tuesday night:

Hi Warwick (and Bianca),

Thanks for taking the time to investigate the situation of my $10,000 agreement with News Corp for two full page ads on page 4 of The Manningham Leader on June 6 and June 13, which were both then relegated to page 20.

I accept your explanation that it was a stuff up rather than a conspiracy and that the layout order from the 1st week (“please move from p4 to p20 given the nature of the content”) was inadvertently applied to the second week as well, even though the 2nd ad was entirely benign from a content perspective.

The written agreement Bianca Weir and I struck was that I would spend $20,000 for 4 full page ads on page 4 over the month of June.

I'm disappointed that you haven't pro-actively offered any form of make-good or refund and could only come up with “we'll give you page 4 next week”, when we spoke on the phone earlier today.

On Friday afternoon I decided to spend $4606 on a full page ad on page 4 of the next edition of Fairfax's Melbourne Weekly Eastern, so that will come out of the print budget which was going to be exclusively spent with Leader Newspapers until the first ad was bumped from p4 to p20 at the last minute, with no compensation.

This means the way forward from my perspective is as follows:

There will be no ad in next week's edition of The Manningham Leader, but I'll be happy to pay $2000 (inc GST) for all of page 4 in the following edition on June 27 which would convert a $20,000 contract for four full pages ads on page 4 into a $12,000 contract for one page 4 ad and two ads that appeared on page 20.

If that is not possible I do not intend adverting again with Leader and would like a full refund for the second $5000 ad which, as you admit, was inadvertently shifted from p4 to page 20 and then replaced by a full page ad from my main political opponent, Kevin Andrews, at a key moment in the campaign just as early voting commenced and postal ballots were distributed.

As a journalist of long standing who spent 7 years working for News Corp as a business reporter, business editor, chief of staff and gossip columnist in Melbourne and Sydney, I'm acutely aware of the value of page placement.

There is no way I would have agreed to spend $10,000 of the funds donated by almost 100 supporters of my campaign, if the contract had said those two ads would be buried on page 20. Securing page 4 in a firm written undertaking from Bianca was the key determinant in my decision to commit.

We had a contract for page 4 and that contract was breached, so I ask that you swiftly change your position and agree to one of the two options proposed above so we can settle this matter and move on with the campaign.

Whilst it is not strictly relevant, I would also point out that in 2010, I was the City of Manningham councillor who persuaded colleagues and officers during one of our budget deliberations that we should switch our fortnightly half page Manningham Leader ad to a weekly ad.

Six years later this frequency has continued delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra revenue which help under-write the economics of The Manningham Leader such that is wasn't one of the 7 Leader titles which was closed last week.

In light of all of this, I believe Leader should treat me fairly to resolve these matters.

If you are sensitive about being seen to be treating candidates equally during a political campaign, I am happy for no further ads to appear and the issue of compensation to be resolved after the election is completed.

Yours Sincerely,

Stephen Mayne

The best they've been able to come up with so far is a promise of better placement next week at the same full price, which is obviously not good enough. Surely they can't sustain hanging on to the full $10,000 with such a clear breach of contract!

An endorsement from Carol Schwartz

The question of how people like Tony Abbott and his best parliamentary mate Kevin Andrews treat women is something that will keep coming up during this campaign. After all, this is the duo that thought it was appropriate to have one woman and 19 blokes in the first Abbott Cabinet and to then appoint Tony Abbott Minister for Women.

There's plenty more disturbing material outlined in this story by a Liberal moderate tracking Kevin's record over the past 25 years.

It's therefore not surprising that a number of prominent women are supporting the campaign, including former Democrats leader Lyn Allison whose endorsement was outlined in the last email edition.

Today we can report that Carol Schwartz has agreed for the following statement to appear on our July 2 how to vote card:

"Stephen Mayne has always been a vocal advocate for equality for women in the context of power sharing and decision-making at all levels. We need more individuals like Stephen in the Australian parliament."

Carol Schwartz
Founding Chair
Women's Leadership Institute Australia

Many thanks to Carol, who also chairs OurCommunity which handed over the Kookaburra Award in 2011 for our consistent advocacy about getting more women on boards.
Carol has been encouraged that Nick Xenophon is proposing the Balanced Representation Bill which supports 40% men, 40% women and 20% unallocated places for government boards and committees.

Rather than only talking about minimum numbers of women, this debate should also include open discussion about minimum numbers of men to counteract any discussion around quotas or affirmative action. It's about balanced representation, which certainly wasn't on show in that first Abbott Cabinet.

How big parties suppress challenging outsiders

This piece was submitted to Crikey on Tuesday

It's hard to remember another election where Australia's political system has produced so much debate about the major incumbent parties working together to make it difficult for smaller players, start-ups and independents.

First it was the Greens and the Liberals co-operating on senate voting reform to wipe out the prospects of micro-parties who get less than 2% of the primary vote.

Preference whisperer Glenn Druery is no longer able to sell hope to dozens of start up parties courtesy of group voting tickets that transferred whole blocks of primary votes to friendly micro rivals.

This was bad news for the likes of low profile micro-party Senators such as Ricky Muir, but for those incumbent senators in smaller states who were able to establish their own parties – Jackie Lambie, Glenn Lazarus and Nick Xenophon – re-election is not out of the question.

Being an incumbent MP brings one big advantage that became apparent after filing this piece for Crikey last Friday ahead of the 150 ballot draws across Australia.

Having filled in the form to get a copy of the Menzies electoral roll, no disk or CD ROM was produced, as has happened in the last two state and council elections I've contested.

Alas, Menzies divisional returning officer Jen Burgess handed over a giant 498 page hard copy of the roll at about 1.30pm last Friday heading into a long weekend before early voting commenced on Tuesday morning.

So much for being able to direct mail the electorate, as that's a privilege only afforded to parties and independents currently represented in Parliament. Yes, this is 2016.

Even the likes of Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott don't have an up-to-date electronic copy of the roll. Because Oakeshott is contesting a different seat, he won't even have an old copy.

Affronted by this blatant tilted playing field, I fired off this letter to an interested partner in a law firm on Friday afternoon seeking advice from senior counsel as to whether any challenge was possible on the question of accessing a useable copy of the electoral roll.

The message came back that a strong legal point was available to be made through the High Court after the election, based on the Lange decision.

Given all of this, is it any surprise that candidate numbers are down by 5.3% in this election from 1717 in 2013 to 1625 this year.

The latest example of the big boys making it tough for smaller parties was the extraordinary duopoly play by Labor and Liberal to marginalise their smaller respective ideological bed fellows in the Greens and the Nationals.

The Liberals were threatening to preference the Greens ahead of Labor in certain inner city seats, in exchange for some open Green tickets in outer-suburban marginal.

Labor threatened to retaliate by preferencing the Nationals ahead of the Liberals in some tight three-cornered contests.

In the end, Liberal Federal Director Tony Nutt repeated his 2010 play with Ted Baillieu in the Victorian election and persuaded Malcolm Turnbull to go with the strategy of putting the Greens behind Labor everywhere, in exchange for Labor preferencing the Liberal aheads of the Nationals in Murray, O'Connor and Durack. Interestingly, Labor kept Indi and Sophie Mirrabella out of that deal.

The WA Nats were suitably angered that two of their target seats, including one they snatched from Wilson Tuckey, were included in the Liberal-Labor preference deal.

Nick Xenophon was also upset that Labor opted for split tickets in South Australia, rather than the traditional approach of putting their Liberal enemies behind centrist or progressive alternatives like NXT.

Volunteers needed to help Make Menzies Matter and Kick out Kevin

There is a unique opportunity to topple Abbott backer Kevin Andrews in the Federal seat of Menzies. Kevin has done little for the area in 25 years, doesn't live in the electorate and is an Abbott supporter who opposes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull because he is too progressive on social issues, especially as they relate to women.

The campaign is going really well so far as you can see from this package of media coverage.

We've got great endorsements from the likes of Nick Xenophon, Carol Schwartz, Tim Costello and Robert Doyle (see story in Monday's Herald Sun about that), but are now getting down to the business end of the campaign which is organising volunteers to hand out how to vote cards on July 2 and at the early voting centres.

We have recruited an old friend Gabi to help manage the volunteers so if you are available, or know anyone who might be, please email her at I will also be receiving all emails to that address.

If you'd like to discuss anything about the campaign, don't be afraid to call me on 0412 106 241.

There's lots of information about the campaign here on our website.

Thanks again for all your past support and we'd be thrilled if you could help again on July 2.

Best wishes, Stephen Mayne

* Authorised by Stephen Mayne, 90 Swanston St, Melbourne