ANALYSIS

David Pocock gets the truck treatment. Must be a threat

Independent ACT senate candidate David Pocock. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Independent ACT senate candidate David Pocock. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

One of the most obvious aspects emerging from the federal election campaign in the ACT is that David Pocock has shown himself to be a threat to the status quo.

We know this because there is a large truck now touring the capital with his face on it with a deliberately erroneous message that he is a closet Greens candidate. It is just like that other truck with the "Xi Jinping votes Labor" lollygag.

The roadside and online efforts, mainly run by right-wing group Advance Australia, are more than mischievous. They are grubby, juvenile, legally questionable and relentless. The brains behind AA would probably like this description.

A very large, undisclosed, bucket of money is being thrown at tackling the former Wallaby to the ground. While people ask for details of donations to Climate 200, the same questions should be directed to Advance Australia.

Mr Pocock is a climate and integrity friendly candidate but he is not running for the Greens. He has described the Greens attack ads as a "deliberate scare campaign" and a "lie".

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He was involved in a "lock on" protest at a coal mine in 2014, but he is proud of it and describes his Liberal opponent Zed Seselja as "out of touch" on climate when he paints him an "extreme Extinction Rebellion Greens".

It is clear the particular focus of Advance Australia is on Mr Pocock as a candidate.

The preliminary view from the Australian Electoral Commission [AEC] is that the "Pocock Superman" ads are not misleading voters to believe he is an endorsed Greens candidate, rather "suggesting the candidate has links or similarities with the Greens". The Xi Jinping ads resulted in a warning as it showed an erroneous voting "tick" when Australian voters are asked to number their ballots. The AEC suggest voters "stop and consider" what is going on.

Is this just colour and movement of an election campaign? Not really. In a campaign where voters are crying out for greater political integrity, the efforts of AA show they have little to no regard for current sentiment.

Doubling down is their modus operandi, poking Mr Pocock in a post:

"David if you have a problem with our campaigns perhaps go chain yourself to a bus or something ... or even better, go chain yourself to the Chinese embassy given they've got well over 100 coal-fired power plants under construction. We'll buy the lock and chains, mate."

All this attention may turn out not to be a bad thing for the target. Candidate recognition is very important. It is certainly starting conversations. There is, as they say in the classics, no such thing as bad publicity.

This story Pocock attack ads an assault on political integrity first appeared on The Canberra Times.