An Election Mystery, Or The Tale Of Two Brochures


I have a sneaking suspicion it’s an election time. What do I base my suspicions on? Well, a few days apart two colourful fliers have popped into my letterbox, sandwiched between all the usual letters that either demand or beg for my money, and an obligatory Australia Post catalogue advertising laptop computers and toy monkeys available at my local post office. I have this eerie feeling that while both fliers seem to be full of great offers (though not nearly as great as laptops and monkeys) either will in the end result in more money leaving my bank account.

The first flier is a “Federal Budget Update”. It appears to advertise the good work of a new entity I’m not very familiar with that calls itself “The Turnbull Coalition Government”. Not much else is known about this Turnbull Coalition Government. Is Turnbull a new political party? Who is it in Coalition with? I don’t know; there are no party logos of any sort anywhere on this two-sided A3 spread. Maybe focus groups have decided that party logos are not a thing any more. I don’t know. Asking for a friend.

The second flier does have a little logo at the front – “Labor”, but Labor is not its star. No, that star is someone called “Pat O’Neill”, who is described as “Labor for Brisbane”. I gather that Pat is or was a soldier. It’s a bit hard to say. He is dressed up in green army fatigues on the front of the brochure. At the back he is sporting an Australian Defence Force tie and a row of medals on his chest. Oh, and there is a second photo of him at the back with an ADF tie on. But that’s hardly conclusive, you have to agree.

I open the brochure and see a big photo of Pat with three girls (“With my three god-daughters at a family open day in Enoggera”). They seem to be sitting on top of a military vehicle of some sorts; at least I hope that it’s a big gun and not that Pat happy to see me. Still…

I unfold the flier and I think I finally have a confirmation. Underneath the big “Meet Pat O’Neill” banner headline on top of the page there is a section titled “Joining the Australian Army”, next to a group army photo (there are two tanks and a helicopter flying overhead) captioned “18 years in the Australian Army”, just above a paragraph that starts with “I joined the Australian Defence Force Academy when I was 17…”. Also, for the Doubting Thomases out there is another section in the middle of the page titled “Serving our nation”, which opens with ‘After 18 years in the Australian Army, I’m running in this election to serve the people of Brisbane.” There is a lot more “Serving” and “Fighting” in big bold letters – and smaller non-bold letters – elsewhere throughout the document, too.

So while I wouldn’t necessarily stake my life on it, I think Labor is running a former soldier as their candidate in Brisbane. If that’s the case, they are being very subtle about it; one could almost say cagey. Why so shy, guys?

So far, this election campaign has thrown up nothing but a lot of mysteries for me – about the Turnbull Coalition Government, about the Labor Party trying to downplay the fact that their candidate is a former soldier.

My curiosity has been piqued. I think I will investigate further. Stay tuned.