There ought to be a picture of Councillor David Saunderson in the dictionary under the word courage.
He has survived the most vicious campaign of denigration from The Age newspaper and from Saunderson’s former employer the Geelong Advertiser. The Age has fewer readers in Geelong than Zoo Weekly, so it was the Addy that was the trouble. And their treatment of Saunderson lacked any sense of proportion, was grubby, shabby, sordid and wrong.
The voters have seen right through it too. Their connection with their councillor is strong and a personal one that not even the town’s only daily newspaper can cut through. The Addy is not such a bad paper but their pre-occupation with Saunderson reflected no credit on them at all. It suggested there was some kind of vendetta aimed at their former employee.
His loyal friend, Corio federal MP Richard Marles spoke for many when he said “This is one of the most remarkable results in politics I’ve seen, full-stop … it’s a victory for grassroots politics.”
Saunderson’s stared down a tough campaign but had worked tirelessly for his community without ever giving up despite what seemed an overwhelming media campaign.
His friend, energetic American Lou Brazier wasn’t able to be re-elected, being the victim of the phenomenon faced by many council incumbents or favourites where they receive so few preferences that even a strong vote isn’t enough.
Shamelessly enough, the Addy splashed with “Brazier backlash” referring to another Age/Addy attack series on a recent council vote to give some land to a not-for-profit community service provider. They bizarrely and falsely presented this decision as somehow benefiting Brazier when it clearly did no such thing.
Their headline was much more about the Addy’s quest for relevance rather than an accurate reporting of the effect of their attempts at Gotcha journalism.