By Julian Bajkowski
The federal poll may be done and dusted, but councils and power utilities across Australia now have a new challenge to deal with: how to pull down and dispose of the literally thousands of election posters fixed to power poles and lamp posts across the nation.
It’s an issue that occurs at every poll, but for councils and utilities the hard fought nature of this year’s campaign has left main thoroughfares in electorates like Kingsford Smith in Sydney’s eastern suburbs (Randwick City Council) so smothered in posters that they are often literally almost down to the footpath.
At an official level, political parties themselves are responsible for taking down their own posters in a time efficient manner once the Sunday morning hangover of victory parties or wakes lifts.
But the sheer volume of this year’s deluge of outdoor advertising is understood to have a number of councils and utilities considering handing out bills to parties for the big clean-up if they don’t remove their bunting promptly.
At an official level, NSW power pole owner Ausgrid doesn’t actually permit the fixing of posters and advertising to its poles for of safety reasons that range from dangers to the public and those scaling the structures to being a safety issue to its maintenance staff.
One of the issues for councils is that Ausgrid and other utilities typically only clear away posters as part of the normal course of their work such as checking and maintain poles, meaning fading and weathered and posters can languish there for months.
It’s not just the volume of election posters that’s frustrating councils and commuters trying to navigate already crowed avenues filled with visual clutter, it’s actually getting a lot harder to pull them down.
While flat-head roofing nails known as clouts were once the fixative of choice, these days party operatives are increasingly using heavy duty wood screws known as coach bolts and washers to prevent their messages being removed easily.
Some posters also use an extra tough laminate to prevent easy removal, a tactic that requires the deployment of power tools or sharp blades
One of Sydney’s most notoriously difficult election posters to remove is for a mock independent candidate billed as “Baldrick” – which features a photo of a dog in a suit.
Posters featuring Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, are also often sought after souvenirs by collectors and ‘pickers’ who go onto sell their spoils online.
One reason for Kevin’s souvenir poster popularity, aside from his likely departure from politics, is that Labor during this election appears to have curtailed the printing of more traditional individual ‘core flute’ posters in favour of thinner and more easily disposable plastic sheeting bearing the Member for Griffith’s that was nicknamed ‘Kevin on roll’ by those manning polling booths.
One listing for a Rudd poster from the previous 2007 ‘Kevin 07’ campaign is $30.
Other contenders appear happy just to give their material away. On Sunday, a box Wikileaks Party how to vote cards left outside of Leichhardt town hall was attracting some curiosity from passers-by spilling out of a nearby school fete – before being picked up and binned by a thoughtful citizen.
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