There’s a saying: all’s fair in love and war… and politics.
Disagreeing well – even losing well – isn’t something you see very often on the political stage.
Australians have gotten used to the mud-slinging commentary media matches when it comes to election campaigns: sometimes hysterical, sometimes disparaging and usually highlighting the worst of the candidates running the race.
But what we recently saw in the NSW state election was somewhat novel – two politicians from each side, arguing the issue, not targeting the person.
No posters with hateful imagery, no damaging remarks about history, just plain and simple discussions on the issues for NSW.
It was refreshing, if not confusing, to see the media headlines around the campaign focus on the issues at play rather than questioning the integrity of the person leading each side.
On Saturday night, incoming Labor Premier Chris Minn thanked outgoing premier Dominic Perrottet and his wife Helen for their respect and civility during the campaign.
"Neither party took the low road, neither political party took the low blow,” he said.
“I think it can be a model for the way democracy is done right across this country."
In his concession speech, Dominic Perrottet also thanked Mr Minn for engaging in a “race to the top” and a contest of ideas.
“That is when politics is at its best,” Perrottet said.
“I truly believe and have no doubt that [Minns] will make a fine 47th premier of NSW.”
It’s the sportsman-like thing to do, congratulating the winner publicly, but this time the commentary felt genuine, not forced or overly scripted.
Both men are practicing Catholics, and it was interesting to see how this was reflected during the run-up to the vote.
While Christianity wasn’t a focus of either campaign, when asked about their beliefs, the candidates talked about the significant impact that faith had on their everyday lives and their ambitions to create change.
Of course, it’s one thing to play the faith card in politics, it’s another thing entirely to live it out, especially when you’re competing for votes.
The demonstration of grace throughout this campaign gives hope to see how personal faith can be represented in politics, without being used as an election card.
Perhaps what this showcased was real faith in practice.
Either way, this last election at least shows that Australians are ready for clean politics again.
They’re ready to talk about the issues that matter the most to everyday Australians, whether it’s the cost of food, increases in rental prices or the pressures on health workers and the environment.
The recent NSW election showed us that the high road can still exist in Australian politics.
Long may it continue.
By Rachel Reva De Giorgio, Account Manager, Jersey Road PR
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