With this being my first political campaign I must admit I feel a little like David must have when confronting Goliath and the Philistine army.
This feeling of insufficiency begun to roll over me during my last trip into Raymond Terrace, every corner I turned there was Kate Washington or Jaimie Abbott smiling politely from someone's front yard or fence.
They must literally have dozens of these signs around the electorate. Then, on the way home along Richardson Road in Salt Ash, I really understood how important Port Stephens has become to the Berejiklian government.
The Liberals have bought a billboard on the side of the road that's bigger than a Subaru and bluer than Papa Smurf.
Five will get you ten that it cost more to print the thing than I paid for my car.
This got me to thinking, how do they afford it?
Of course I understand that candidates for the major parties have the benefit of their respective political machines and donors behind them. But I didn't realise the extent to which the public purse is used to fund their campaigns.
As I understand it, being an Independent - like the major and minor parties - I can claim back any campaign expenditure that meets NSW Electoral Commission requirements.
One of those requirements is that I must get 4 per cent of the first preference votes, no walk in the park, let me tell you.
Also, as an Independent, I need to get a minimum of 25 registered voters from the electorate to nominate me so that I can get on to the ballot paper, along with paying the electoral commission $1000.
Candidates for any recognised party don't need to do any of this because the party does it for them. This leaves them to campaign, campaign, campaign.
I have set aside about $2000 from our savings to challenge for Port Stephens.
Basically, anyone wanting to challenge the major party duopoly needs to put their own money up or shut up.
Once the votes are counted, whomever gets at least 4 per cent of the first preferences gets a payday.
After the 2015 election, the major parties pocketed $23 million of taxpayers' money between them.
The next time you see one of our major party candidates smiling at you from someone's front lawn or paddock, remember it was your tax dollars that put it there.
Great work if you can get it.
Now, the kicker to this is that while an Independent or new start party needs to find sponsors or go into their own savings, all the major parties can get some of their payment for votes money in advance. Yes, in advance.
For this election alone, the major parties and their compatriots have been paid in excess of $11 million of taxpayer money in advance to fund their election campaigns.
I'm not sure how many people will be surprised by this information, but I feel like a right Muppet. Not only am I funding my campaign, I am funding both of my adversaries.
Of course, I can buy as much advertising as I want. But, with my budget, I need to consider how and when to do so in order to achieve the greatest impact, or to get the best "bang for my buck". Advertising is not cheap.
I don't begrudge media organisations trying to make a buck, without them unemployment would be greater and local knowledge would be lacking, to say the least.
Plus they have the major parties throwing our money at them one way or another as though it fell off the mythical money tree.
The sad thing is that this isn't where it ends.
We also have different levels of government taking advantage of each other.
For example, I can hire a council public hall for around $150 for the day. But if it's to be used as a polling station, the council now wants in excess of $300 for the day.
Go figure that one.
Who says that prices aren't inflated for government dealings?
Governments rip each other off, so what chance do we serfs have?
So the next time you see one of our major party candidates smiling at you from someone's front lawn or paddock, remember it was your tax dollars that put it there.
But they still can't afford air-conditioning in our schools or adequate numbers of nurses for our hospitals.