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The Defining Moment Of The Campaign And The Medicare Moment!


“I lost my job!”
“Well, someone told the boss an outrageous lie about my intention to take a sickie next week. I denied it, but in spite of that, he told me that he was giving me two weeks notice!”
“Are you sure that was the reason?”
“Yeah, what else could it be. I mean, I’ve turned up to work, even on the days that I was hungover and incapable of doing much, I’ve told some of our customers to f*ck off because they were a waste of time and effort. And I even told the boss that his daughter had plenty of sex appeal, so I’m an ideal employee. It must be because of the lies that were being told.”


Sometimes people can overlook the obvious…

When Bill Shorten declared that Malcolm’s assertion that “what political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily what they will do” was the defining moment of the campaign, many in the media accused him of trying to make too much of it. After all, Turnbull was talking about the Labor Party, even if the rest of his words were general in nature and could refer to any and all political parties.

Campaigns sometimes have many defining moments. Like Mark Latham’s handshake. Or Mark Latham announcing that “hit list” of wealthy private schools which apparently made the vast majority of Australians terribly upset that some schools would have to abandon their plans for heating the polo ponies’ stables. (I know, just accuse me of the politics of envy!) Usually though, these moments are defined in retrospect and the narrative is adapted to fit with the idea that it was the main reason that the winner was successful. As I’ve written before, if Latham had actually defeated Howard in 2004, then the handshake would have been symbolic of the younger, more dynamic man taking over. The young bull defeating the old bull…

Well, there’s a lot of bull around during elections, and I’m finding Turnbull’s dummy spit on Medicare one of the most amusing interpretations of the result in quite a few years. While he tempered his assertion that we were all taken in by an outrageous lie and scare campaign, and suggested that maybe, just maybe, people hadn’t believed his promise that Medicare wouldn’t be privatised might have had something to do with the fact that… well, “what political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily what they will do” and maybe, just maybe some on his side of politics may have said things before elections which were misinterpreted by the public and well, you know, shucks, we’ll just have to work harder when Labor start lying…

Let’s not mention the carbon tax wiping Whyalla off the map, $100 lamb roasts or mining companies shutting down and moving their mines to the middle of London, because, after all, they were a long time ago. And you couldn’t call the suggestions that house prices would fall and rents would rise under Labor’s negative gearing proposal, the idea that a Labor victory would be open invitation to people smugglers because they’d change the turn-back policy (even though they said that they wouldn’t) and assertions that our national debt would once again be out of control, scare campaigns because, well, they were just simple statements of what would happen under Labor.

But the thing that I’m most intrigued about is the idea that Turnbull – on election night, without any evidence or research – knew that it was the Medicare campaign that lost them votes. Not the lack of detail on their jobsandgrowthstrongeconomicplan or their belief that all one needed to say was “innovation – the best thing since sliced bread and we’re in favour of it” and people would go “Wow, innovation – what a concept!” Not the change in leader making their stability platform look as shaky as their reason for calling a double dissolution. Not the “real” tradie whose ad – apart from being so worthy of mockery – argued that the best reason to vote for the Liberals was that they weren’t the Labor party, echoing Turnbull’s subtext that the best case for him being PM was that he wasn’t Tony Abbott. Not the promises that we’ll all be better off by $500 a year once the carbon tax goes. Not the NBN fiasco, with the raids and the denial that it was behind schedule because they promised before the last election that it’d all be rolled out by 2016. Not even the claim by Turnbull on the day before the election that, in spite of the Medicare rebate freeze, there’d be no increase in the cost of seeing a doctor. No, none of these caused the electorate to do exactly what the opinion polls had been saying for weeks. No, it wasn’t because of anything that Liberals had done or failed to do. It was all just because of the outrageous “lie” on Medicare.

And I guess that maybe one of the reasons that people were prepared to believe it may have been that just last February, Mr Turnbull failed to rule it out when asked a direct question in Question Time. For some strange reason, simply denying it during an election campaign after it seems to be gaining traction makes one rather cynical. You know, they may wonder whether it’s like Gonski where the promise the Liberals seemed to be making and the one that they were actually making were two different things.

Whatever, even if Mr Turnbull manages to get 76 seats, that leaves him in the uneviable position of needing every single Coalition member onside in the House of Representatives. Now I’m not suggesting that someone like Kevin Andrews would threaten to become an independent unless he were restored to the Defence portfolio, but it does make it hard if the backbench start to break ranks on any particular issue. And, in Mr Turnbull’s case, given he only beat Abbott last time by a margin of 55-45, it’d be interesting to speculate how many of those who lost their seats were Turnbull supporters.

Interesting times, indeed.


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  1. Steve Laing -

    Yes, it is funny that of all the possible reasons, it was the “Mediscare” wot dun it. They were right royally rumbled, and they know it. And that is what irks them, the fact that they were caught with their hands in the till, and even then they still tried to deny it.

    “A big boy did it, and then he ran away”. Yep, Turnbull, you are a blatant liar and a bad one at that. You are also a bully and a sneak. You are untrustworthy to have been elected into the role of PM, but given how our democracy now appears to work, perfectly qualified. Unfortunately.

  2. keerti

    And the only difference if turnpuke hadn’t rolled abutt would have been a complete routing of the coalition.

  3. etnorb

    Oh, boo fcking hoo Talkbull! Perhaps you should take your bat & ball & go home–now there’s a nice thought! Some of us still remember Rabbott saying no less funding or downsizing the ABC & SBS–promising ALL of us a mythical $500 for him abolishing the carbon tax & so on. And now Talkbull says it is just what politicians do when they promise things during an election campaign, & then they “forget” (yeah, right!) about them if elected–& he says he was talking about the Labor mob, but the “cap certainly fits” his inept, lying Liberal mob too! Another great think piece Rossleigh! Here’s hoping Talkbull does not get the majority he needs to govern in his own right, I am hoping that there will be some Independents in the mix too.

  4. bobrafto

    Labor’s big lie is another Textor dead cat thrown on the table and the feigned indignation was a joy to behold.

  5. Jack Russell

    An unadulterated snapshot of what IS!

    Even the blind will see by the next election, despite anything the MSM might have to say between now and whenever it will be called.

    I do so hope the Coalition “win” this time – they deserve to desperately flounder around in the deep pool of political filth they’ve created, all the while knowing they engineered their own demise.

    The Aussie version of Game Of Thrones…?

    Thanks Rossleigh.

  6. Fancy Nancy


  7. Angry Old Man


    Mate, you crack me up! Although, if Talcum Bollocks squeezes in, even your satire might have trouble exceeding the reality.

    @Steve Laing


    Best wishes, comrades, and keep the faith.

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