Matters That Count: What to do when you get The Great Brush Off

Matters That Count is an initiative that calls on groups of like-minded friends to get together and screen their federal election candidates, asking them to declare their hand on 8 core matters that, we believe, go to the heart of who we are as thoughtful, compassionate citizens.

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There’s a whole range of different ways candidates can deflect your questions and refuse to give you a direct answer and commitment. Because candidates still want to you to view them in a favourable light, and give them your vote, you may receive a brush off without even really knowing it.

So, here are some of the responses we know people are getting from candidates which do not count as giving a valid response to your request for them commit to taking action on specific matters.

  • “I have attached a link to [insert name of political party] policies that cover all the 8 topics you have mentioned…”
  • “if you are interested to know more about what [insert name of candidate] stands for, please look at their website …”
  • “here is a link to [insert name of candidate] speeches, including their first speech in parliament which will give you a good indication on who they are and what they stand for…”
  • “I cannot sign anything that is slightly different from [insert name of political party] policies, however I can confirm that our policies closely mirror the commitments on the 8 policy matters …”

Having a candidate send you links to their website is not a valid response when you have approached them with Matters That Count, and does not provide you with the answers you’ve asked for.

People presenting as candidates owe it to voters to level with them as to where they stand on matters. It is the responsibility of candidates seeking election to communicate with you in a way that is accessible for you, and directly address the genuine concerns you are putting to them. You will learn as much from how candidates treat you, your request, and your time, as you do from the commitments they make on the eight policy matters.

We encourage you to respond to candidates who give you an unsatisfactory response in a polite manner. Below is a template you can use in this situation. We hope it’s helpful.

Dear [insert name of candidate],

Thank you for your email.

While you have provided some links, we notice you haven’t directly responded to our request to commit to pressing for action on all, some or none of the 8 policy matters we put to you.

We are not interested in second guessing where you may or may not stand on certain issues, nor trawling through volumes of website material. As a candidate seeking our vote to be elected to parliament, it is your responsibility to level with us on where you stand on the eight matters of critical national importance we have sent through to you.

We have reattached the 8 matters to this email and request a response, via email, no later than Monday 9th May.  If we don’t receive a response with your commitments by this date, you will be recorded as having ‘not responded’ on the summary table we put together and share across our local networks in the lead up to election day.

Thank you,

[insert names of group members]

How did you go? Keep us posted via mattersthatcount[at]

Authorised by Mary Crooks, Victorian Women’s Trust, 200 Alexandra Pde, Fitzroy VIC 3065.

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