Free beer the Aussie way to win an election
By WILL JACKSON
BEN SMITH yesterday revealed an innovative new strategy in his quest to shift Don Page out of the comfortably-held seat of Ballina.
In the week leading up to the State election, the 22-year-old Australian Democrats candidate plans to give away nearly 500 bottles of custom-made 'Vote 1 Smithy' beer.
"It's a nice little gimmick," Mr Smith grinned yesterday, saying he hoped the stunt would help him connect with 'typical Aussies'.
"Election campaigns can be bor- ing and frustrating for voters, so I came up with the idea and made a deal with Brewtopia, who do custom-labelled beer.
"It's a bit of a change of pace. Instead of bickering between parties I'd prefer to just sit down and have a beer and a chat."
The giveaway is legal as far as the NSW Electoral Commission is concerned, but it does count as a form of electoral advertising, so has to go through the same authorisation process as television and newspaper advertisements.
The beer will be distributed for free to licensed pubs and clubs in the Ballina electorate.
Local pundit and political historian Mungo MacCallum said the stunt had some precedent. In the past a number of Federal politicians had produced their own wines, he said.
However, Mr MacCallum had never heard of a politically-motivated beer. "I'll have to give him that as a first," he said.
As a campaigning tactic, it had some merit, he said.
"Well, he's obviously going after the drinking vote, which is quite substantial around here," Mr MacCallum said. "However, he does run the risk of getting everyone so pissed they may not remember who to vote for ? or at all."
Mr Page, the Nationals candidate, laughed out loud when told of the proposal.
"I'm not sure what message he's trying to get out by doing this," he said. "It's obviously an election stunt to build a bit of profile. Good luck to him anyway."
Unfortunately, Ballina constitu- ents aren't likely to get a 'Don Page Chardonnay' or 'Nationals Single Malt Whiskey' any time soon. "I won't be putting out a rival brew," Mr Page said.
Full disclosure: Ben Smith has reserved a case of his beer for The Northern Star.