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Day to Day Politics: This will frighten you.

Friday 15 July 2016

Coming from a party with a long history of frightening people the conservative’s accusation of a scare campaign on Medicare is an affront to ones sensibilities.

Those of my vintage will well remember Robert Menzies’ “Reds under your beds”. “We are to be invaded by the red hordes from the north” he shouted loud and clear in every election campaign he participated in.

I remember as a young boy seeing pictures on posters in trams, in the newspapers, and shorts at the cinema with pictures depicting the communist hordes thrusting their way towards us. There were others with hundreds of Chinese rolling across Sydney Harbour Bridge in their rickshaws with guns and communist flags.

Both the Trade Unions and Labor were pursued with vigorous anti-communist slurs and scare campaigns for decades.

Tony Abbott in his tenure as both Opposition Leader and Prime Minister, on a daily basis sought to place the public in a perpetual state of shock and awe. Remember his daily visits to businesses resulting in another deceit about a carbon tax. A Sunday roast was going to cost $100 (screamed Barnaby Joyce) and Whyalla was going to be wiped of the map. He insinuated a crisis around every corner every day. Pathetically so, without fact nor reason. Yes, the Carbon Tax was going to wreck the Australian economy.

ISIS are coming to get us. And you personally. His scare campaigns were relentless dirty gutter politics. He stopped at nothing to frighten the shit out of people. It was like being on a permanent war footing.

He promoted fear like a legitimate political weapon and wielded it unapologetically.

He created a budget crisis saying that all hell was going to cut loose. Lie after contemptible lie was told, terrifying the people into believing that the Australian economy was about to collapse.

Amazingly when they gained office we found no crisis. It was just shrill politics from a demented politician.

They had conducted a scare campaign about budget deficits and government debt, but in government Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey forgot all about it.

Make no mistake, the conservatives have been running scare campaigns for decades. Who will forget Phil Ruddock demonising Asylum Seekers always referring to them as illegals? Never in their scare mongering did they had the dignity to treat these folk as human beings.

Ruddock even told us that refugees were so evil and inhuman and violent that they throw their own children overboard. He went on to say that they were bringing diseases to our country. Nothing was left out in their putrid zest for demonising these people.

Scott Morrison, the ‘Hillsong Christian’ at one time even went out of his way to encourage his party to be more destructive with their damnation. Praise the Lord.

Had Abbott continued in office their smearing of Muslims may well have reached its zenith during the election campaign. It is a scare campaign that in its longevity has shown the right of Australians to be the masters of scare.

John Howard, together with Bush and Blair with the use of blatant lies scared the world into believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The consequences of the scare campaign are well-known. In Australia we are constantly reminded by the right about terrorists and of course Muslims. Thanks, John.

More recently Liberal anti everything backbenchers conducted a scare campaign against the ‘Safe Schools’ legislation. We have been told that Labor’s negative gearing proposal would wreck the property market and during the election that a Labor/Green alliance would be one of chaos.

Their extravagance of language in these matters knows no bounds. Which of course makes their accusation of a Labor Medicare scare campaign bereft of historical conscience.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what sort of scare campaign Bernardi and his fellow homophobic MPs will mount during the marriage equality plebiscite but it’s sure to be chilling.

In other words, ‘they have form’ as Australians are apt to say.

So it is the height of hypocrisy to hear the conservative parties complain of a Mediscare campaign.

Malcolm Turnbull’s sullen and perplexing speech on election night blaming a result he didn’t anticipate, was full of shrill rhetoric about a well-funded Mediscare campaign. He blamed Mediscare on an unwelcome result.

What we saw was a deeply disappointed man unable to objectively point to the real reasons for a horrific performance.

An objective leader might have done some internal critical analysis and found himself wanting. He might also have questioned a hollow plan for jobs and growth.

Was it a scare campaign? There will be differing opinions. In my view a scare campaign usually has no substance in fact. In this case there was enough superficial evidence, at least, to suggest that if the conservatives had no plans to rid themselves of Medicare they certainly planned to play havoc with it. In my view Bill Shorten was correct to say that Medicare was under threat.

You only have to look at the conservative’s historical attitude to Medicare. They have been against it since Whitlam introduced it in 1974. Fraser tried to get rid of it. Hawke restored it.

They would try again if it were not for the public’s support of the programme. Conservative governments have always tried to destroy it using various methods. Turnbull’s government is no different.

Dr George Venturini in his excellent series on this blog “The facets of Australian fascism: the Abbott Government experiment (Part 40)” has this to say on fear:

“The State lives on fear. Today, it is the fear of ‘terrorists’, which is a manufactured threat, meant to scare people into handing over their rights and dignity to the tricksters in power. “Our twentieth century is the century of fear,” wrote Camus in his article ‘The century of fear’ for Combat, the newspaper which had supported the French Resistance to Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Camus said that fear could be regarded as a developed science”.

My thought for the day.

“How is it possible for the inherited rich and privileged to understand poverty – how can those with the means to pay medical costs understand the inability of those in ill-health who cannot?”


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  1. babyjewels10

    Clearly, shock and fear still works…

  2. David

    Another good read John. The point about the inherited wealth and privilege is most relevant here. I would add that we have third generation public servants living and working in Canberra now. With a limited world view and comfortably complacent, most do not understand the need for a strong and thriving business community. More to point is the fact that most don’t think they need to understand. This attitude is not just confined to Canberra, I see it in Europe, UK and here in the South Pacific. When will people realise that wealth is generated by production, agricultural, industrial, and intellectual?

  3. keerti

    With a paranoid population such as australia’s,no problem. Perhaps we have another reason for turnpukes shameful speech on election night.he gave a million bucks to get elected! Evidence of his money management?m

  4. jim

    I totally agree as Aboot said in 2013 No cuts to health, no cuts to ABC or SBS , no cuts, no cuts, no cuts and what did he do when he got in Power, he’s cuts are too long to list here and I mean literally , and how long have the right wing been trying to destroy our ABC, here from wiki; An early challenge to its independence came in June, 1940 when wartime censorship was imposed, meaning that the Department of Information (headed by Sir Keith Murdoch) took control of the ABC’s 7 p.m. nightly national news bulletin.[8] This lasted until September of about 4 months LOL, when control of the news was returned to the ABC after listeners expressed a preference for independent news presented by the Commission. and they’re still at it today.

    Just how the Liberal Liars got in this time without one proper policy is unbelievable again the answer is the MSM who cheer them on. Have a good day.

  5. Phil

    Australians, in the collective, would change for the better if, as a nation they turned off the TV and the radio.

  6. Zathras

    Scare campaigns wouldn’t be so effective if their self-deputised supporters weren’t so willing to play along.

    I remember during the Whitlam era when a Tasmanian employer included a note in the pay packets (remember cash?) of his employees that if Whitlam won the election on Saturday then they should not bother to report for work again on Monday.

    Nowadays it’s more widespread via the internet and bogus “astro-turf” groups through the media.

  7. Freethinker

    I just wait to see what will happens when the Senate start knocking down one coalition policy after other.
    Business man people are not happy with the outcome and Gerry Harvey just mentioned a dictatorship as a solution.
    The extreme right world wide it is very active and Australia will be not out.
    A possible diplomatic and commercial conflict with China can work in their favor.

  8. Wayne Turner

    It was the LNP “projecting” yet again. The LNP’s MSM buried the FACT (it was a scare campaign) of the LNP’s scare campaign against Labor: eg: “Labor’s declared war on business” – A complete LIE with no proof to back it up.

  9. Klaus

    Hi John,

    Perfectly written and summarized. Unfortunately the MSM follows like a lap dog its owner. Just this morning I heard on Channel 9 News (Not my channel but I can’t win against my wife) using the word Mediscare in their news presentation. Followed by the President of the AMA stating that a Co-Payment would be absolutely necessary….

    It will never stop and I so wish, that Bill/Greens (Don’t like De Natale but I like Scott Ludlum) stand up and point these few truths out to the media. They ned to be far more gutsy than they come across.

  10. Steve Laing

    Moreover scare campaigns have an economic effect. The “budget emergency” worried people so much that they put their wallets away, to save their money for emergencies. Unfortunately the impact on small business in particular is significant, as customer spending drops. Scare campaigns win votes for sure. But they can also inadvertently bring otherwise buoyant economies to a shuddering halt.

  11. Graeme Henchel

    For scare campaigns to be successful there must be a plausible narrative that may eventuate. The carbon tax scare campaign was based on the reality that there was going to be some increases in costs to consumers and business. This was enough for the coalition to exaggerate with$100 roast and the wipeout of Whyalla whilst ignoring all the offsetting compensation provided by labor. The Mediscare campaign was also based on the reality that the coalition has a long history of undermining our universal health system. The real impact of a scare campaign is determined by the extent to which the media put it under scrutiny or support it. The Murdoch media fully supported the coalitions carbon tax scare campaign. The media tried to scuttle labors Mediscare campaign. Labor has over egged their comeback and the coalition has underestimated the strength of their victory. Under Abbott and his policies the coalition was heading for a landslide defeat. Under Turnbull with Abbotts policies they had a near death experience but survived. We have just experienced the worst government in Australia’s history and endured an election campaign from the coalition that consisted of not much more than a vacuous slogan about “jobs and growth” and constant mention of a plan which was not much more than a plan to say the word plan as often as possible. We also had a united opposition lead by an increasingly effective leader in Bill Shorten who presented well considered policies leading to long term structural reform so clearly needed. Yet, the coalition survived. How is this so? I put in down to three factors. Firstly Turnbull’s personal popularity. Though rapidly declining at the time of the election he was still preferred prime minister and in an increasingly presidential style race this was significant. The fact the the liberal party morphed into the “Turnbull Coalition” underpins this theory. Secondly but more importantly is the influence of the Murdoch media, or Murdia as I prefer to call it. Some commentators think the influence of Murdoch is diminishing and this may be so, however the influence of Murdoch in poisoning the political debate in this country goes back decades and continues unabated. One need look no further than the way the Herald Sun promulgated the CFA dispute in Victoria. The CFA dispute itself is nothing more than a giant scare campaign. “Save our CFA” FFS!. A third but less significant influence was the more subtle pro coalition bias in other sections of the mainstream media such as Fairfax and the ABC. The constant reference to the coalition being favourites and the editorials going Overwhelmingly towards the coalition may have been enough to convince some voters.

  12. ozibody

    Indeed John, I well recall the Menzies … ” yellow peril to the North ” ….. imminent invasion !….. and of course the Union bashing thru the commo under your bed routine! ….. I was conscripted under the first National Service call up in July 1951, and many of our regular army NCO trainers had returned from a stint in Korea!

    I became involved in the protests against the Vietnam National Service ( 2 year ) call up, which was served under real war conditions ( of an horrific nature ) ….. and just who was it that recalled the remainder of our troops and ended the farce / bloodshed ?? !! ….. within a week of election to office ?

  13. Carol Taylor

    Klaus, clearly as the Libs cannot get their co-payment through the Senate (and Morrison is keeping it as one of his ‘zombie’ measures left over from the failed Hockey budget), then it’s a co-payment via stealth. The new President of the AMA has also stated: GPs ‘at breaking point’ over Medicare rebate freeze.”, that is, GPs will have to charge their own co-payment – just exactly the aim of the zombie co-payment – to chip away at Medicare and start an American style user pays system. Once there is a co-payment (legislated or forced upon doctors) there will be no turning back. Sly and underhand aren’t they…

  14. Wayne Turner

    Spot on Graeme,especially on the BIASED LNP’s MSM getting the LNP back in.The non-stop commentary of “the LNP will win”,mixed with ONLY reporting polls that favored/or looked the best for the LNP (The LNP’s ABC did this non-stop) is known as a “self fulfilling prophecy” that the LNP’s MSM did on purpose to get them back in – IT WORKED. Say something that’s possible,that can influence the easily influenced enough, and it will happen.

    Sadly,of course it wouldn’t happen if this country didn’t have so many ignorant and gullible fools.But it does.

    The Australian Mediaocracy continues……..

  15. Carol Taylor

    Graeme Henshel, I agree with you absolutely. Although the ‘shock and awe’ style of the Murdoch media accompanied by ridiculous cartooning of a demeaning, grossly exaggerated style is losing its impact (done to death, now a yawn), many in the msm still take their lead from the Murdoch press. We therefore have television ‘personalities’ perpetuating that which Murdoch prints thereby vastly expanding Murdoch’s influence. I remember a time, it was before Howard appointed David Speers of Sky News as the anointed one to moderate the Leaders Debate, when Speers actually gave a balance view of politics..but that was a long time ago.

  16. Janus Munrovski

    John. I agree with what you’ve written; but I think you’ve let the Labor Party off rather lightly. It was Keating who set up the detention centres; & Rudd/Gillard did not cover themselves in glory. Re the asylum seekers both parties should hang their heads in shame.

  17. FreeThinker

    Already, not even two weeks after the election, we have the pro-Liberal President of the AMA reviving the prospect of Medicare co-payments to meet the government shortfall on health care funding.

    That he is suggesting this, and not the government, is significant. Keeps the issue in the public arena, in this case from an ostensibly independent of government stakeholder, the head of the AMA.

    He would have been assured by the Turnbull people that there will no increase in Medicare funding, and that we need to be building our defence forces as fast as we can ( with soon to be obsolete submarines).

    Meanwhile Julie Bishop using characteristic megaphone diplomacy is doing her best to stir up the Chinese over the international ruling on the South China Sea, and thus seek to validate the excesses of public money going into defence initiatives. It’s a ‘ dangerous dog eat dog world out there’ ( the ideological correlate of competitive neo-liberalismism ). This is the Liberal’s underlying leitmotif, and we ( ie they ) will do our best to make sure it remains that way ! Developing scare campaigns is part of the Liberal Party’s DNA.

    And the Liberals have more ways to ‘ fix ‘ Medicare, without having to go the path of wholesale privatisation.

    As with the ABC, it will be slow calculated disablement by 1,000 cuts.

  18. Wayne Turner

    The AMA president is quite new,and of course appointed by the LNP aka He is a known right wing LNP stooge.

    Clearly put in to push the LNP’s agenda and policies on health.With the LIE that he is “independent”.

  19. stephentardrew

    Let’s be clear about this they actually use hate speech with no legitimate empirical evidence for the facts. They lie, lie, lie and still no one holds them to account. The damage they do to the moral values of our children is incalculable. These fear mongers are vile antisocial narcissists with one goal in mind pure unadulterated greed an self-interest.

    This world wide capitalist drive fore unbridled power has little or no ethical standards and is causing the depletion of the biosphere and destruction of the planets ecology. Billions are going to suffer intolerably. They are thieves and liars leaching off of the hard effort of the working class, poor and marginalised. Time for a reality check. No more pussy footing around. Where is the clear moral voice of the left?

  20. Gangey1959

    I know there were lies, lies, and more lies from voldemurdoch’s puppets for the entire length of the campaign, ably supported by even the abc. You get that sometimes.. The alp campaign wasn’t particularly well fought either. At times it bordered on pathetic. Those of us with even half a brain knew it was going to be close.
    The ONE result out of the whole election that has me absolutely tossed, and that proves that at the end of the day stupidity runs soul deep, is how the hell did bjoke get in in new england? How dumb are they up there ? Or is it the csg in the water after all ?

  21. Jack Russell

    The only glimmer of hope that I can see is that Labor seem to be beginning to understand that to avoid being swept away in the tide of neo-conservatism they must resist, not acquiesce or collude.

    They have enormous talent, but can it be harnessed to effectively push back against the forces aligned against them? Do they have the intestinal fortitude to hold the good of this country and its people above their personal interests for as long as it takes?

    Do they have a strategy? (I’m avoiding the word plan – it’s become a dirty word). Will they stick their heads above the parapet and call it for what it is in clear blunt language backed up by irrefutable proof?

    Will they? Can they?

  22. Terry2

    It seems that the smear campaign mounted by sitting Liberal Michael Keenan and vocally supported by Julie Bishop against Anne Aly in the seat of Cowan in WA, backfired.

    Anne Aly won the seat and quite a few coalition voters swung to Labor in protest against the gutter tactics of the Liberals.

    Poetic justice perhaps.

  23. DisablednDesperate

    For those who haven’t seen me say it I will again. In June my GP went private even for pensioners like me. The gap was $33. From 1st July it is now $42. THAT is the reality now. Not this 2 or 5 dollars I keep hearing.

    The MSM did the same trick in the US. Declared Hilary before it began.

  24. Freethinker

    DisablednDesperate, I just wonder if the prescribed medicines will be next.
    Why is there that obsession that we have to follow USA policies?

  25. Osiris

    @Freethinker: “Why is there that obsession that we have to follow USA policies?”

    Not so much the policies of the US, as the policies of the oligarchy, – and the Western world is their domain. But they aim to be the rulers of the whole world, unless they are stopped. The US is not a democracy, and the policies there, as here in Australia, are the policies that the moneyed elite dictate. And as far as these robber barons are concerned, borders don’t exist, and if allowed, they’ll make sure that they are abolished. The plan is already in motion under the banner of globalisation.

  26. halfbreeder

    I am sure the LNP had the same plan in stall for medicare as they have for welfare recipients. That is, the welfare card. That is in essence an outsourcing of the welfare payment system and outsourcing is an privatisation of a government service. After all they are both just payments systems. If the LNP succeed on the welfare card Medicare will be next in line.

  27. Pingback: John Lord’s Election Diary No. 5: The masters of scare. It’s like watching the best of “Yes, Prime Minister” - » The Australian Independent Media Network

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