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If it’s about Politics, I’m not interested.

Just how many people are interested in politics and what influence does the media have on our thinking.

I have always been of the view that Australians exercise their right to vote in our democracy every three years and after that the vast majority take little interest. Australians don’t engage in politics and there is a deep seated malaise. The reality is though that politics effects almost every part of an individual’s life and they should be more interested.

In a 2008 lecture ‘Politics and the Media in Australia Today’, Dr Sally Young said this.

‘’Who are the media audience for politics in Australia? An experienced political pollster estimated a few years ago that only around 10% of the population in Australia takes an active interest in politics.

There are two things to address here. Firstly that 3.000,000 people decided not to cast a vote in the last election indicating that they were totally fed up with politicians for many reasons of which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say that a recent Essential survey ranked political parties at 14% on the question of trust in institutions. Parliament at 25% and the ABC at 74%

As Lenore Taylor said two years ago:

“Parliament and the media, both reliant on public trust for their existence, ”should give long pause for thought about how that trust can be regained . . . for the media it now has to come down to meeting, and explaining how we are meeting, our responsibilities to be reliable and informative and interesting and fair”.

And secondly, and this is only a hunch based on antidotes or personal observation that the 10% mentioned by Dr Young has in fact grown to 20%.

Whereas once we had an allegiance of a locked in 40% die hard support for the two main parties, and ten % for the greens with 10% swingers, now we have a sizable minority of thinkers who take their politics seriously.

A comment on my last post for THE AIMN prompted me to rethink the issue of media exposure and the power of it to influence, persuade and debate the issues. And of course accessibility to it.

The person I refer to is a Green supporting Billy Shorten basher who insists that Shorten isn’t doing enough. I pointed out that opportunities for Opposition leaders were few and far between.

The day he made his comment, while watching the Seven News, I conducted an analysis of the time given to politics. In the half hour to 6 to 6.30 14 stories were covered. Politics got roughly 90 seconds and Bill Shorten uttered one sentence about National Security.

By the time the program had finished I couldn’t recall what he had said. This prompted me to think further about the time devoted to politics on commercial TV and public broadcasting.

I decided to take a closer look at political media exposure generally and spoke to the editor of a television ratings magazine who provided me with some audience figures. He asked not to be named because I only asked for indicative figures.

The Bolt Report 132,000 (over two shows)
Insiders 227,000
The Drum 147,000
ABC News 24 93,000
Media Watch 72,000
Q & A 800,000
ABC News 700,000 which compares favourably with the commercial channels.
7.30 700,000

An interesting observation on Q&A is that of the last 240 appearances by politicians 137 have been from the right and 93 from the left. A similar comparison can be made with guests on The Drum where the IPA seem to have a permanent seat at the table.

There are of course other programs that cover politics in one way or another. Sky News for example. However, it is fair to say that without the ABC, exposure to politics would at best would be very minimal.

Now when you compare the numbers I have quoted against those of average or even top rating shows they stack up fairly well, indicating that there is a proportion of the population who are political tragic s like myself.

Of course the viewing of these television shows doesn’t solely account for my 20% assumption. Television audiences, are still a major influence, even if they are in decline.

Now back to Bill Shorten and the avenue for media exposure. let’s look at radio stations that cover politics seriously. We have the ABCs AM and PM, the drive shows and the Sydney shock jocks and Neil Mitchell and Jon Faine in Melbourne. All of these have formidable audiences of mainly non-working folk of an elderly demographic.

In a media twist so to speak just prior to putting my two typing fingers to work I was watching News24 with a televised cross to Shorten being interviewed by Jon Faine. Shorten was as cool as could be with Faine pressing for one line answers to highly complex questions which in the current political climate he would be mad to answer definitively.

Whilst Faine and Mitchell are comparatively fair he would be silly to appear on a Hadley, Jones or Smith, Sydney produced program and be ridiculed over nothing whilst at the same time the Prime Minister is in his political death throes.

Please note that Australia doesn’t have a left wing shock jock.

And in terms of a Murdoch dominated newspaper industry he should , while journalists of a conservative bent are giving the Prime Minister such a hard time, be foolish to enter conversations that are politically controversial. Well that’s the political wisdom anyway. Let them continue with their own goals.

So there are three issues I am trying to address here. The first is that yes, a huge number of Australians have withdrawn from the political process and the party who tries to win them back will reap a reward. I doubt that it will be the conservatives though because they are unlikely to be of their constituency.

The second is to identify the new 10% of swinging voters. Who are they? My belief is that they are the young internet savvy people who have found an online outlet for raised voices against unfairness, the environment and inequality. Young people more interested in the issues than the ideology of them.

Thirdly I am talking about what should shorten do and I have addressed this issue in two pieces. 1. What Should Shorten Do and 2. Bashing Bill Shorten.

There is no doubt that his day of reckoning is approaching and the book of opinion is wide open on him but at the moment he needs to remain calm, reasonable and statesmanlike. Just like Malcolm Turnbull who said this.

“broadcasters, or politicians or writers…who think that they are respecting ‘struggle street’, the battlers, …by dumbing things down into one-line soundbites are not respecting them, they are treating them with contempt”

Another reason is that the budget is only eight weeks away with the last still a work in progress. After the last one they will need to craft a document of unique fairness that not only is but seen to be and at the same time addresses the budget crisis they said we have. I doubt that they can do it. They are bound to be criticised either way.



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  1. mark

    The one good legacy that Newmam has left. (And that Abbott will leave) is that there is a heightened awareness of how these out of touch, arrogant people do not have our best interests at heart. We deserve better than people who just want to be politicians. Sadly, still ingrained that you can only vote for one or the other.
    We have seen such an eye opening through social media. I pray that the right person gets elected this time. Not a party

  2. David Stakes

    Usually the community radio network,will have more left wing views than mainstream radio rubbish.

  3. paul walter

    “Shorten bashing” is is not some thing done out of malice, but an attempt from those amongst that 10% of people who actually follow politics to get the ALP to actually act on issues like data retention and surveillance, FTA’s and foreign affairs. That is, rather than just supporting Tory policy and worse still, reinforcing Tory memes re Clash of Cultures, thus wank like “Border Security”, the Death Cult nonsenses and the bogus “War on Terrorism” , that are excuses for removal of civil liberties amnd media dumbing down here and the easier alibiing of blood on hand Imperialism involving third world countries.

    It is also an attempt to have Labor repudiate neoliberal nonsenses to do with “reform” and FTA’s, more alibis, this time for robbing Australians themselves, as well as an attempt to have Labor restore rational development rather than endorsing ecological slash and burn processes such as gas fracking, based on the demands of a myopic, greedy few.

  4. eli nes

    For the life of this government, I have been bombarded with emails offering inducements for a signature and exhorting me to upskill, at a university, with NO UPFRONT FEES because the government has instituted a fee-help scheme for VET/TAFE that could incur a debt up to $96000 and the universities smelt the $billions. .
    These emails have been forwarded to labor with comments like:
    Little Billy and Torpid Tanya, you are spending your time avoiding $100000 degrees for the 10% who are smart enough for higher degrees but leaving the 90% to fend for themselves at courses with no entrance exams like VET, TAFE, Teaching or Nursing. Why ignore your heartland supporters, the workers??
    The vehemence with which this point was pursued, resulted in various facebook bans and. I am sure, emails being marked as spam.
    What a shock to read in the NT News(13/3) that the coalition was acting to stop the vulnerable being given inducements to sign for debt.
    What a revelation that I should have been writing to the rabbits and pynenuts of the liberal party rather than wasting my time with labor politicians. Showing that, in this instance, little billy’s labor is further right than the coalition.
    What a dilemma that a staunch laborite(for most of 8 decades) should be praising this inept government and, should no independent stand, contemplating voting for the loony greens.

  5. mars08

    Oh… jeez… for crying out loud!

    Still banging on about MY supposed “Shorten bashing”???

    If you had bothered to read all the comments with that article, you you have seen that I was a solid ALP voter until 12 years ago. Their policies were not perfect, but they were the “best fit” for my way of thinking. They more or less stood for what i believed.

    The fact is, I did not change. I did not walk away from my support for Labor. My priorities and ideals remained firm… rather Labor walked away from me…. and many many others. Labor decided it wasn’t going to try to hold my vote. It decided that there was more success to be had aiming for a different demographic. It vacated the battlefield… and the Greens filled that void.

    Now it’s time for the ALP to start romancing their new potential sweethearts and stop playing the victim. It’s time to move on.

  6. Bronte ALLAN

    Whilst any “interest” in Politics can be a yawn, anything to do with what this inept lying bunch of conservative,flat earth/right wing/tea party cones is doing is well worth knowing about!

  7. John Lord

    Mars08 Some tell me that I am more green on some policies than Labor but for crying out loud try to take into account the political consequences of supporting or rejecting government policy. Sometimes a blind principled stand on everything will never gain you government and without power you can do nothing. That’s my point. Opposing everything might have earned Abbott government but it’s not what I want my leader to do.

  8. mars08

    @John Lord…. never mind. It’s a free county (of sorts). Labor stopped promoting certain values that were very important to me …in pursuit of a more politically valuable demographic. Lucky for me, the Greens filled their space.

    I’m quite confident the ALP will win the next election. So what’s the problem?

  9. Harquebus

    There is little difference between the major parties these days. They both impose the will of corporates and the security apparatus upon us and implementing the will of the people never happens. This is why most I know say, “What is the point?”.

    I blame the journalists. Politicians lie to us but, it is the journalists that let them get away with it.

    It is easy to contact our pollies and journalists. I do regularly. Mailing lists are easy to construct.
    A tip given to me by a politician. Use bcc to contact groups of politicians. If it is recognized as a bulk email, it will relegated down the list.

    Prime Minister:

    If that doesn’t work
    and if that doesn’t work (no full stop)

    Get up ’em.

  10. Kaye Lee

    It is obvious that this week’s Liberal Party talking points included say “Labor-Green coalition” as often as you can. Personally I would love to see a Labor- Green coalition. Labor MUST change their mind about off-shore processing. All reports show that we cannot condone that under any circumstances. I also want Labor to be proud of carbon -pricing rather than prevaricating. And this ridiculous rubber-stamping of all things defence really pisses me off. I also want to hear policies. Stuff “political wisdom” – these are unusual times. The country needs some hope.

  11. paul walter

    You will never NEVER see that and for reasons you, of all people, should understand Kaye Lee. John Lord’s comments remain unhelpful, btw.

  12. John Lord

    I think the difference is that I probably agree with the policy points that both Kaye and Mars 08 make but I wouldn’t stand on my dig to the point where it would prevent them from gaining office.

  13. CMMC

    I vote Green as a ‘value signal’ to Labor.

  14. Kaye Lee


    What you just said then sums up in a nutshell the problem with politics in this country, and probably most others. People who are prepared to sacrifice principles to ambition are worthy of contempt rather than praise. Inspired leaders can convince people to do what is right.

  15. Harquebus

    I agree. I expect the Coalition to screw me but, when the Labor Party does it, it really hurts.
    @John Lord.
    Attitudes like yours is why politicians get away with what they do. (No offense.) They rely on and love the rusted on. We should expect more from Labor and punish them when they don’t deliver.

    Labor politicians ought to be ashamed of themselves. If they are not the first to erode our liberties and freedoms then, they stand behind those that are. My response is the same as CMMC’s.

  16. mars08

    Gaining office to what end? To be a slightly less aggressive version of the current mob? See? That’s what I HAVE TO assume… because I don’t hear them saying otherwise … consistently, loudly and clearly …!

  17. Kaye Lee

    The latest example of Turnbull sacrificing principles whilst pandering to Rupert which won’t hurt his ambition at all…..

    “Turnbull is understood to be seeking formal policy approval to put a submission to cabinet which would argue in favour of abolishing Australia’s platform-specific ownership rules regulating newspapers and radio and television.

    Australian broadcasting regulations prohibit a person controlling a commercial television licence, a commercial radio licence and a newspaper in the same area.

    A single owner cannot control commercial television licences reaching more than 75% of the Australian population.”

    IPA wish list

    27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

    On the to do list…

    14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

    15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

    16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

    17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

    50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

    51 Privatise SBS

    65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification

    Already done

    47 Cease funding the Australia Network

  18. paul walter

    mars08, I understand and fully, yet in a way you are as unhelpful as John Lord.

    John, as Kaye Lee says, there has surely to be SOME place for principles, but I get your point reluctantly as to practicalites, given the grip dumbing down and MSM have on the public’s unschooled collective mind.

    What has really happened has been an irreversible split in non right politics. This began in the early nineties with the strong signal the ALP sent that it was moving away from rational principles re old growth forests, after being unable to reconcile neoliberal imperatives with those of rational development and policies required for a civil society.

    The Howard wedge on asylum seekers consolidated this split, but the question remains, were activists too impractical in their solutions concerning asylum seeker policy, say, or was the problem that the “New” Labor was too gormless to explode racial myths, preferring to go along with the terrorism/ anti muslim stuff and trying to contest with the Tories for power on the basis of this idiot homeland security meme imported from America, that they (deliberately?) refused to expose?

    Easier to keep capitalism going and by representing itself as “old” (caring) Labor, keep those voters who would have moved away far earlier before the Labor right pragmatists got into bed with developers for backhanders, with all the subsequent privatisation nonsenses, for example, that reduced Labor credibility to zip?

    The faction hacks had no reason to care. They would retire on their fat super and whatever else garnered along the way to so-called consultancies and the idiot public, like Orwell’s farm animals, would find out too late what had really happened.

    As in the US and other western countries, the right has benefitted, to entrench its feudalist and even fantasist based anti-development- in meaningful terms- agenda and it could be terminal with the real decision made at the next US election, with a so-called choice between an unsteady “bad” Wall St (Hilary) and the Koch/Murdoch/Wall St/ Republican/ Religious Right/ “worse”?

    Shorten appears to be linked with the pragmatist right and his “voice” is too muted, as we saw with the Surveillance legislation. It is not Shorten, or any other politician, bashing, when the criticism applies to bad policy rather than some thing personal that shows up in a given politician. And Labor itself has put itself in a position of weakness and ignorance by driving out a large chunk of its most creative thinkers over some time as well and ignoring its own discouraged grassroots

  19. mars08

    It’s hard to believe that… if Shorten announced a firm, notable controversial, passionate policy or intention … it would just be brushed aside by all the MSM outlets.

  20. Harquebus

    “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
    In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.”

    Ring any bells?

  21. paul walter

    Re Kaye Lee’s accurate comment, we can see, sadly , how Turnbull fits into the general drift of globalised neolib politics.. just another smiling mercenary.

  22. paul walter

    Mars , there’s the problem..things have been allowed to drift for too we see and live the consequences.

    No Whitlam or Rann or Dunstan with the intellect and force of personality to break throughthe public’s cognitive barriers installed via media massage.

    The last chance came with Kevin 07, but as soon as things seemed to going well (Rudd/Gillard looked potent early, didnt it?), they all reverted to psychological type and fought amongst themselves, usually for the worst of reasons.

    Had there been an effective left, the spines of the leaders may have been blostered to see things through against the opportunists, but the damage was done far earlier. Today we have an emotionalist Green party not practical enough and as for the current ALP, you weep.

  23. Matters Not

    I vote Green as a ‘value signal’ to Labor.

    So do I.

  24. John Lord

    Kaye for most of life it has been said of me that i am too idealistic and principled but there is another side of me that sees politics in practicable terms. Yes I want all of those things you and others have referred too. I have written a lot about it. However, you can be as idealistic as you want but it will remain what it is unless you are in office. The consideration of policies in isolation without consideration of the the practicable political consequences of implementing them is futile and results in frequent periods of opposition.

    I am sympathetic to the comments made on this post (even the ones a little below the belt) and understand the reasons and the idealism behind them. What I am trying to get across is that if you want to attain office you cannot ignore the politics. Its in office that you achieve things not outside it.It surprises me how political people think they are when they are not at all.If they were they would take it into account.

  25. Kaye Lee

    I do understand John which is why I hate politics and feel it has no place in government. It makes people lie. It makes people use asylum seekers for their own political gain. It makes people think getting re-elected is more important than doing what they know to be right. Look at Tony Abbott sacking every Labor appointee. That is SO counterproductive. Marketing and spin have replaced honesty and public service. It’s all about winning an election rather than governing in the best interests of the people. I know you are correct in what you say but that doesn’t make me like it. I still think a decent leader with vision should be able to convince the electorate of the right path rather than the popular one. Politics isn’t a contest of ideas, it’s a popularity contest which sees candidates make ridiculous promises to win votes. That is the legacy of the two party system.

  26. John Lord

    I am tempted to quote Churchill but I think you know what he said. There is no doubt we need a better system of government and I have written much on this blog about the restoration of our democracy and servitude of the common good. It’s when I write about the practicalities of governance that people’s ears prick up. Oh for a perfect world. It all becomes blurred by whose version of of what is ideal and what isn’t.

  27. Kyran

    It seems to me, idealism and practicality are not mutually exclusive. On a daily basis, articles appear on fifth estate sites such as this, that are articulate, reasoned and based on evidence. The fourth estate is languishing in its own inanity, regurgitating slogans and ‘crafting’ news to fit agendas. The two major parties are in the cohort of once great media organisations, all of whom have subscribed to the greatest folly of them all. They believe their own bullshit.
    I honestly think there are more than 10% of people interested in politics. I often marvel at my sons and their friends observations, none of whom would dream of having a political conversation. They do, however, talk of their experiences and how easily things could be changed for the better with the right resolve from authorities. They see the stupidity of knee jerk legislation for what it is.
    The current narrative is that society has no right to expect that the cultural and economic changes forged over the past forty years are affordable or sustainable. This notion is actively promoted by MSM. Regrettably, they have no thought for the new world and the rapidly increasing influence of sites such as this. No thought for the increasing demand of their constituents for real and effective policy, across the board. Just because the MSM says any particular policy is what the majority want does not mean this is so.
    The last two state elections have resulted in unforeseen outcomes in terms of MSM reporting. I also note the voters appear reluctant to give carte blanche to either party. I remain hopeful for real and positive change. Take care

  28. jagman48

    I guess back in 1949 things were a bit different. A big divide between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party so voters were able to diferentiate between parties and policies. There could have been no Greens Party otherwise the Snowy Mountain Scheme would never have got off the ground due to environmental issues, no save the animals, no animal justice party and no save the koalas. I think we probably have too many parties now. In this state election I have seven parties to choose from. Maybe that’s we loose interest.

  29. Harquebus

    @John Lord
    “Its in office that you achieve things not outside it.”
    Does this mean that the rest of us here on the outside, in our quest for decency and fairness, are wasting our time?

    Politicians ignore the politics all the time. It’s the money that drives politics. I will not compromise. I want politicians who will truly represent us and implement the will of the people and not represent those that buy policies and legislation. Let’s not forget who wrote the dud mining tax and who it was that legislated it. Labor was punished at the last election, the Coalition will be punished at the next and then Labor will be punished again and on and on we go so long as the major parties continue with their flawed ideologies and fake representation.

  30. John Lord

    Harquebus. The answer to your question is simply NO. It’s what I do on a daily basis. Those who read my work regularly would understand.

  31. paul walter

    No, John Lord isn’t wrong.. the thing is up for discussion and it irks him as well as the rest here that politics is in the shambes it is.
    One facet, people have just misunderstood what globalisation is and what it is about (nothing to do with multiculturalism, the means by which it has been sold then discarded though it is the best aspect of it) and how it has corroded our autonomy.

    To think we’ve reached a stage where a foreign government can sue a local one that bans a toxic pesticide or quack remedy from Big Pharma for the benefit of the community it represents, is gobsmacking. The ultimate exemplar must be gas fracking?

    It’s been a good thread..points, counterpoints and some sense of greivances aired and a better sense of where we are, so to speak, have come from it, even if the problems facing us now look uglier than before.

  32. Harquebus

    @John Lord.
    I know what you do and give you credit for it and I try to help by promoting some of theAimn’s articles in my correspondence. What this site needs is more readers that disagree. Those are the minds that need changing. Those who read your work regularly are the already converted.
    I was being facetious with my question.

    Can you do something about this waiting for moderation crap? Please.

  33. Kyran

    Paul, I have been in the car most of today, hence listening to RN. The Health Report, a weekly feature on Saturday’s, was on Big Pharma. I’m off to try and find a site called Consumer Health Forum, which look’s at the exact point of money over health. The bits I heard related to the flu vaccine’s being stockpiled (going back to Costello) being of less medical value than paracetamol. The intrinsic corruption in that system is to be feared. Tying a pretty ribbon on it and calling it a FTA or TPP is absolutely terrifying. Thank goodness enquiring intelligence!

  34. Harquebus

    It is called “free trade” only because it sounds nicer than regulated trade negotiated in secret. True.
    Google: Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions

  35. Ned

    Actually Job-services should be scrapped. They are advocate vendors for private course scams and other predatory employment scams. Recently I had to email my Job-service provider after they got me in a room and tried to hard sell a Evocca laptop scam. I declined and sent a Notice stating:- Any PROHIBITED ACT will be considered an act of undue harassment or coercion with the supply or possible supply of goods or services as defined by the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CTH) Vol. 3, Ch. 4, PT> 4-1, Div. 5 Sec. 168.

    It shut the scum-up.
    A week before the insulting/consultant said ” If you don’t find a course, I will” with a smirk on his face, this after i showed him Taffe courses coming up in a few months. They were not interested. I said don’t you like gov courses, and a big spiel came out were not anti gov. They are short high frequency traders in the souls of men. They don’t care whether they wreck jobseekers lives through their reckless behaviour. Just enjoy the blood Tetrad moons this year in April-Sept..,Abbott Fools! A sign in Joel 2:28:32 that the unfair system down under you set-up is now under judgement by God.

  36. John Lord

    thanks for all your comments.

  37. Rev

    It’s because the IPA have a permanent seat at many tables that I don’t watch Q & A anymore, or the other ABC shows. Never seen the bolt report and never will.

  38. Mark Needham

    Good to see Mr Abbott in budgie smugglers. The preferred wear of Australian Lifesavers.
    Poor old Bill, would have to wear a Bikini, to cover up the lewd bits.
    Mark Needham

  39. darrel nay

    reply for Mark,

    Don’t tell me the Canberra clown is smuggling budgies too.


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