Source : - The Advertiser,10117,20972395-2,00.html

December 25, 2006

By Nick Henderson

THE father of detained terror suspect David Hicks is planning a major advertising campaign targeting key Liberal-held seats in the lead-up to next year's federal election.

Terry Hicks has been told his campaign - which would focus on the Howard Government's human rights record - could influence 3 per cent of voters at the next election.

Marginal seats throughout Australia are likely to be targeted shortly before the election in a move Mr Hicks believes will concern the Government.

High-profile seats, including Alexander Downer's seat of Mayo, will also be targeted with the likely avenues of attack being television advertisements, billboards and possibly people manning polling booths on election day.

"Three per cent is not much but 3 per cent can swing the balance of power in many places," Mr Hicks said.

"The only way you are going to change anything is politically . . . so you have to go against that political issue and try and get the public onside to vote against John Howard."

Mr Hicks said the plan was still in its early stages but he told The Advertiser there were a number of financial backers who would support the campaign.

"It's quite incredible the amount of people out there that all of a sudden if you want to do something say 'don't worry about finances we will look after that'," Mr Hicks, who lives in Salisbury Park, said.

"There's people out there who are concerned and are prepared to help you."

Liberal sources have told Mr Hicks the issue involving his Adelaide-born son, who has been held captive without charges for more than five years, could sway 3 per cent of the vote nationally.

In SA, the key seat of Makin is held by the Liberals by a margin of just 1 per cent.

Wakefield, north of Adelaide, is held by 0.7 per cent and Kingston, in the southern suburbs, is held by 0.1 per cent - a mere 119 votes.

Mr Hicks said he would not be surprised if Prime Minister John Howard pledged to bring David back to Australia as an election ploy.

"I just have a very strong feeling he could be struggling next year and he may resort to using that," Mr Hicks said.

"If he makes the promise and he follows it through that would be a great result."

Mr Hicks will not stop campaigning, however, until David actually arrives home in Adelaide.

He said Christmas was one of the hardest days of the year, exacerbated this year by a decision by David not to accept a phone call from him less than a week ago.

"July 7, was the last time we spoke to David," he said. "It's a long time, we don't get letters from him because he doesn't have anything to write about anymore." Mr Hicks hoped David was fed turkey for Christmas Day and treated well - even if it was for just one day this year.

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