Seeing the signs

The Mt Barker Council’s decision to impose a limit on the number of corflute signs future local government election candidates can display is hardly surprising.
Community consensus is that corflutes are visually unappealing, a distraction for motorists and an outdated form of communication, so there’s little surprise Councillor David Leach was supported by most of his fellow elected members in this move.
Part of the irritation about election signs comes from the special set of rules allowing politicians to use public infrastructure to market themselves – a privilege not granted to anyone else. But Cr Leach raises a valid point that limiting the number of signs a candidate can display might provide a more even playing field in future elections.
It virtually eliminates financial and personnel disparities between independent candidates – whose ‘team’ might consist of a spouse or partner, a couple of children and a small group of friends – and others with the support of a major political party.
Corflutes do work.
They are expensive and difficult to put up (and remove) but major political parties devote considerable money and physical resources to plaster the environment with them before any election.
The two Mt Barker councillors who opposed Monday night’s motion questioned how else time-poor council candidates would raise their public profile.
The answer is hard work.
Grassroots campaigning is an excellent way to increase community standing.
If candidates are too time-poor to commit to community groups, sporting clubs or other local causes, how could they expect to properly commit to the role of an elected member?
The Mt Barker Council’s decision to limit election signs is one that will be watched with interest by other jurisdictions.
The SA Local Government Authority is planning to lobby the State Government to completely ban the use of the signs at all levels of government.
But whether or not that is successful, the council’s decision was made with a good understanding of its community – gained through personal engagements with constituents. A prime example of local government representing its ratepayers.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.

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