Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Opinion: Who is Dale Shuttleworth?

Update: Dale now has a Facebook page. Read my followup.

Dale Shuttleworth is running for the State Government seat of Ferny Grove, currently held by health minister Geoff Wilson. I saw him and Campbell Newman campaigning beside the road at the Great Western Shopping Center in Keperra this weekend. It was raining. I kept on driving.

Who is Dale Shuttleworth? I've been trying to research Dale but information about him is spread thin on the internet. I found a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook page. And this story published in the Westerner from 2009. In terms of recent content, I could only find another Westerner story I linked to in a recent blog post and LNP's own anemic candidate page.

Dale has run for political office four times prior to his candidacy in the forthcoming election. And somehow Dale has remained a mere shadow on the internet.

I have nothing against Dale. I don't know enough about him. But from his perspective, as someone seeking political office and a formal role serving the community, isn't that a problem? From my perspective, as a member of the electorate, how do I begin to understand whether I would like to vote for Dale?

The internet allows anyone to very easily and cheaply to not only spread their message, but also engage with their community. I do not know of any political candidate who does not seem to waste the opportunity the internet provides.

My advice to Dale - and all other standing and sitting members- would go like this: Publish an email address. Write a blog. Use twitter. Make a video. Participate in forums relevant to the community. Publish and share your favourite photos of the electorate online. Collect and curate news stories you think are important for our area. And tell us in advance when and where we can meet you face to face. There are many options, and they all involve revealing something human - and relatable - about yourself.

This is a selfish post. On election day I would like to vote for a person. Not a slogan, or a placard, or a party, or even a set of election promises. I would like to vote for a person who I think I can trust to carry convictions, make the tough decisions, admit problems and mediate disagreements. I will never get to do this as long as our political candidates fail to engage us effectively as people.

PS. Dale's political opponent, Labour MP and Minister for Health Geoff Wilson has his own website and distributes PDF newsletters by email, but I would hesitate to say Geoff necessarily does any better than Dale at communicating who he is or what he does to the community. But thats a topic for another post.