You can not have an election in Australia without tiny pencils, sausages and corflute.
Corflute is a brand name so perhaps we should call it twin wall polypropylene substrate or corrugated plastic, but like Hoover and Rollerblade, the brand name has become the generic.
For some people the major issue in any election is corflute. The questions and issues are perennial and are raised during local, state and federal polls.
Corflute achieves political consensus
The substance is used by virtually all candidates. On a sign 600mm by 900mm, they will print their head shot, their party name, their seat and a slogan. During the campaign, these mini billboards will spread through our streets and suburbs like fake spider webs at Halloween.
When the campaign starts, the corflute-a-phobic begin raising questions of timing and location: Are they allowed to be up now? How dare this person seek public office while flagrantly breaking the law!
To whit, they have placed their head shot on a power pole. This is vile visual pollution and why should we then trust these vandals with anything else?
By the campaign’s end, the core coreflute-a-phobes have been joined by thousands more – the streets are full of these beaming signs of hope. But what happens to them after the last box is ticked and the last squirt of sauce hits the sausage? Is this just more landfill and litter?
Can you recycle a corflute?
ABC Radio Sydney listeners told us of a thousand-and-one uses for expired election signage.
One listener had a Malcolm Turnbull sign as a doormat just after he became PM. They saw it as both useful and a metaphor.
The signs make great windscreen and car protectors during hailstorms and if that hailstorm breaks your roof tiles, there are some SES branches who keep a supply of old signs handy to plug the holes.
They can be cut into thousand-piece jigsaws – just the gift for the political tragics in your life. Some use them as construction board for other puzzles.
Many souvenir them and use them in their own campaigns and demonstrations. Cover the candidate with paint and inscribe your message on the blank side.
They are repurposed in the family home in dozens of ways. If you have an open fire, place near the fire and put firewood on them. Careful though, they may be flammable.
Many a floor of a chicken coop, rabbit hutch and guinea pig cage is lined with the head shot of one-time political aspirants. Whether you place this face up or face down will depend on your political leanings.
You can also line your garage, kitchen cupboards and tool drawers with them.
For those in cooler climes – perhaps Eden-Monaro, which includes the Snowy Mountains – they make excellent toboggans.
The whole family can use them. Children’s cubby houses, lemonade stands and musical instruments. One teacher said she can cut them into pieces and make pan-flutes out of them. She also bends them in half and uses them to display her students’ art work. Cut out a giant photo frame for hilarious pics on your social media. Use the blank side as a canvas for budding Ben Quiltys.
A concreter uses them for form work on small concrete pours. Ceramicists love them. A traveler waterproofs their camper trailer with them
Some long-term candidates re-use them each time and many find a poignancy in the contrast between the youthful appealing image stuck on the fence and the weary exhausted visage of actual candidate at the booth. A kind of reverse Dorian Gray.
Several people suggested they’re good for mounting dartboards, or a dartboard itself and wondered if they could be donated to archery clubs and shooting ranges for targets? One former politician, John Robertson MLC NSW, said he had donated his corflutes to the local archery club and they promised not to paint the targets over his head.
One listener gave this moving use for discarded corflutes
The most moving suggestion came from this listener:
“I live alone. After each election, I collect one of each corflute of each candidate. I put them on chairs around my dinner table and cook a lovely meal for us all. We then have a debate. I ask the deep, probing questions , the ones they can not ask on TV and get all the juicy gossip from them. I get the truth about their motives for running for office. It gets very emotional. It’s very therapeutic. “
We might all get more out of that dinner party than all of the debates, press conferences and factory walk-throughs of the last six weeks.
For those worried about the question of landfill, there are companies who will recycle them under certain conditions – but how many candidates do that? And there are paper-based alternatives that would last an election campaign and then will degrade. Corflute, however, is cheaper.
Once the election’s finished and it’s all over bar the recounts and the close calls, the original corflute-a-phobes have one more question: Who’s going to take the damn things down?
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