AusOpinion Reblogged 27 – The Caravan Moves On and Western Sydney Does Not

I followed that absurdly successful post with a largely unread piece about what usually happens with Western Sydney in the media – not a lot.  It also raises the issue of sport funding – why is it that Penrith Panthers can attract funding for its initiatives while community organisations cannot.  What is even more infuriating is that it continued into the NSW State Election, with YET ANOTHER announcement of this same initiative. 
Posted by prestontowers on August 14, 2013
Yesterday, the people of Penrith were graced with the National Campaign Caravan and we have already seen its effects. The Caravan got its meme moment, the sex appeal comment – which has attracted a range of responses, such as the morning show discussion points, the main topic of the Adam Spencer breakfast show in Sydney and so on. The sex appeal story has DIDO stickability. So much so, we had Fiona Scott appearing on a range of programs, Abbott quoting his daughter in saying that it was a “daggy dad” moment – which raises a whole load of cultural questions. In addition, there was a great deal of comment about what this adds to the picture we have of Abbott and his view of women – framed through the male gaze of women judged by their attractiveness to the opposite sex. And then there was this.brmae1qcyaabkzu-jpg-large

All in all, not too bad for Abbott, who despite continuing to infuriate those who see Abbott as an unreconstructed “1950s man” who sees women in politics as “accessories” – as Christine Milne characterised him in her interview with Adam Spencer – continues his schtick as an awkward, daggy “ordinary bloke” for many voters. Certainly more positive than if he was pinned with the more serious charge of announcing a spending commitment which had already been made by the Government.

One of the main points I was wishing to raise with yesterday’s post was that the regional areas of the nation really get short changed by the way the media cover them in election campaigns – though not really all that much different from the rest of the time. In election campaigns, however, it becomes painfully obvious how anonymous and forgettable regional areas become to a press caravan constantly pushed from place to place with little idea of where is next – something Michael Gawenda highlights in this article. In that way, Penrith just becomes a place where the ordinary people are locked out and all they want is funding for their local football club – not that the journalists could escape and ask them about it.

Personally, as a resident of the area, I really don’t want the Penrith Rugby League Club to be getting more money from the Federal Government for their programs – especially as their parent, the Panthers group, make enough money from their poker machines to be paying for any number of initiatives. Panthers was the same club that was one of the loudest in their opposition to the poker machine pre commitment reforms and I saw the original Bradbury / Albanese announcement as a way of attempting to ameliorate the club for putting them through that process. One of the loudest opponents of the reforms, Phil Gould, was the one tweeting the new Abbott “announcement”, showing that the Bradbury Albanese attempt hasn’t worked particularly well publicity wise. A reason I don’t support such funding is also while Panthers are scoring $12 million dollars from whichever major party has money to throw at them, places where most children play sport, like Jamison Park, some three minute walk away from the Penrith Football Stadium, remains underdeveloped. (Photo from @chrissiem)

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Times like election campaigns give no time for discussion of broader issues such as the appropriateness of giving more money to organisations that don’t really need it or even the question – is that all Abbott is going to give Western Sydney? – it’s about going wherever the leader is, watching what he says, waiting for the sound bite, moving onto wherever is next. But in these days of social media it need not be. Those piles of journos on the embedded caravan could be looking through their timelines, asking their followers, using those resources to find them facts, to look for the flaws in substance to be grilling the leaders about. I suspect, though, that it is style and gaffes that will be the marker of this campaign, not the genuine gotcha moment. Meanwhile, people watching their TVs will continue to see Western Sydney voters as people who will vote for more football club subsidising and candidates with sex appeal.

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