I’ve been installed in the Adelaide Hills for over a week now, but I still feel just as thrilled as I did on day one. Dan Cregan’s campaign for Kavel is a well organised and smartly planned operation. There is no time for vanity campaigning or busywork – everything we do is done because it is the most efficient and most effective use of our time.
This attitude extends all the way to Dan himself, who has devoted a mammoth effort to doorknocking. He’s visited every home in the electorate at least once, and the results are apparent to anyone who has spent time here. I found happy constituents everywhere, often in places I didn’t expect.
I was letterboxing a small town when I entered a random corner shop to buy a Farmers Union Ice Coffee for the road. Immediately as I walked in, the shopkeeper noticed my Cregan shirt and told me that Dan was on her doorstep only a few days ago. “I’m not certain,” she said, “but I reckon that Dan is truly genuine, which is unusual for a politician.” It’s those kinds of interactions with constituents that make the difference between a good Liberal candidate and a great one.
I’ve picked up some new skills over the past several days, such as techniques for letterboxing a town where they don’t have letterboxes, and the unique South Australian art of hanging a corflute from a Stobie pole. However, for all the differences, there’s a lot here that reminds me of the situation back home in the ACT. South Australians, much like Canberrans, have lived under a Labor government for almost two decades, and you hear it everywhere in frustration with poor quality services and skyrocketing fees and taxes. Clearly the people of South Australia want to see change.
Unfortunately, we aren’t the only party advocating for change in this state. Nick Xenophon’s SA-BEST upstart is dividing voters across South Australia and is a particularly real threat to us in the seat of Kavel. In this environment, merely pointing out Labor’s failures is no longer good enough to win – we need to talk about the policies we’d enact instead and present a positive vision for what a Liberal state government can achieve. Or, as Steven Marshall puts it, talk about a “Strong Plan for Real Change”. Of all the lessons I’ve learned over the past nine days, this is the main one that’ll stick with me. Liberals in opposition can’t just be critics – we need to be visionaries if we want to win government.
Today has already been a busy day for me. I started at 6am this morning hanging corflutes, and I’m sure to be working until very late tonight setting up booths. The buzz of anticipation you feel on the eve of an election is something special, and I couldn’t be happier to be sharing it with Dan, Joe, Nik, Hayden, Jack, Matt, Marg, and all the other fantastic volunteers I’ve met over the last nine days.
Over the next 24 hours, the Young Liberals will be vital in determining the fate of Liberal candidates across South Australia. If Steven Marshall and his team are successful in finally bringing some real change to the state, it will be in no small part thanks to the efforts of the Young Liberals. I’m proud to be part of that team – but I’ll be even prouder when we get the win. Let’s bring it home tomorrow!
Ramon Bouckaert is a member of the ACT Young Liberals