In 2012, anti-corruption watchdog Tony Fitzgerald published an article titled The body politic is rotten. It is a must read from the man who exposed police corruption in Queensland and led to the end of the dictatorial reign of Joh.
One paragraph of it I found particularly relevant to my opinion of the Labor review into why it lost the 2019 election:
insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes, recognise only some of the problems and few of the causes and suggest insiders’ solutions with voters as mere bystanders. The usual, and sometimes intended, outcome is a flurry of superficial activity, appointment of a suitable group of other insiders to report, lengthy discussion of their report, considerable navel-gazing, a feel-good pronouncement and business as usual.
Then I read a comment by AIMN author George Theodoridis which resonated with me far more than anything I read in Labor’s review.
the people were waiting for some Whitlamesque inspiration, like Medibank for example, like free education, like less militarism, like less obsequy to the Americans, like the closing down of the offshore torture tents, like some statement against the savagery of zionism, like a decent policy on reduction and or elimination of the mountains of pollution that is suffocating the planet. That’s what was in their minds when the campaigns began. Instead, they heard mealy mouthed waffle about a thousand and one things none of which had much to do with them. Some house keeping chores would be done but the huge lumps of dung in the middle of the lounge room, the kitchen the bedrooms were not even mentioned.
It is often said that facts are hard to get across to a disengaged public, that elections are won on emotion.
If you want to talk about stirring emotions, those of us around for the time of Whitlam know what that truly feels like.
He made us feel proud of ourselves, not of our alliance to anyone else. We stood up as Australians with an ancient history and unique culture. We would engage with the world as equals, not vassals.
Universal health and education were, not only our right, but an investment in our future.
Labor’s review says they were unable to react/innovate to respond to twists and turns in the campaign.
We want inspiration, not political manoeuvering.
If anyone asks how you are going to pay for something we need to do, like raise Newstart (for pity’s sake, just do it), answer that, if we can afford to spend $20 billion a year on new weapons of mass destruction, we can afford to look after our most vulnerable citizens and assist them to be contributing members of our society. Put emotion/empathy in your answer – not tables of figures.
Simply point out the actual dollar return of investments in health and education. Stress the rapidly rising economic cost of inaction on climate change.
Get real about jobs and stop pretending they will come from new coal mines. Have each local member/candidate draw up a list of sustainable job options for their area and what assistance they think might grow employment in their electorate. Instead of issuing talking points for media appearances, have your members do some work in their electorates and report back.
Policy should be informed by what experts and stakeholders say rather than in response to what focus groups or shock jocks say. I may be biased in this, but I think teachers would be able to better advise you on how to simplify your policy objective into a message that is understandable to the public (that is our job) than young marketing/advertising gurus offering image advice and competing slogans. It’s not about selling it – it’s about simplifying it and making it relevant.
Polls mean nothing as shown by the last election. Stop worrying about who is friggin’ leader and just do the job. Personally, I would rather see some courage and conviction than ‘adaptability’ and some sort of Survivor leadership blame game.
But I think George hit the nail on the head – fear and hate is exhausting, we crave inspiration.
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