Regardless of the prognostications of politics in Australia, the ‘message’ delivered by politicians from the larger parties is always professional, well-rehearsed and well delivered. Even as the dust was settling on the Turnbull/Dutton/Morrison brouhaha recently, Morrison had his message sorted (‘he’s representing us’ in case you didn’t pick up on it). It’s just like a marketing person wrote it (because in all probability, one did).
While the messaging may change over time and the truth of the message is somewhat hidden when it suits that particular side of politics, the message is clear and repeated parrot fashion at every chance that is given, even if it doesn’t answer the question originally posed. Soon after the latest coup, newly minted Treasurer Frydenberg was on ABCTV’s Insiders program as the studio guest. After rattling off the current LNP talking points and deferring commentary on the mechanics of the recent brouhaha to the ‘commentators on the couch’, Barrie Cassidy asked him effectively if he wanted to expand on what had been said. The response was no, we’ve mentioned growth, jobs, the Labor Party would wreck our economic settings and I’m not commenting on the spill. While it wasn’t said, the implication was I’ve done the list of dot points from LNP HQ; I’m good but thanks for asking.
If Cassidy had asked Frydenberg something about government policy from another portfolio, it is pretty certain that he could have given a response demonstrating some knowledge of the current policy while suggesting that the relevant minister would be on top of the detail. And fair enough too, you would hope the Education Minister would know more about education than the Treasurer. However, as they spend time around the cabinet table and the various policy creation mechanisms within the Coalition, they should have a reasonable knowledge of what the government plans to do across all the portfolios that have to exist to run the country.
This is more likely to happen than if you ask the Palmers, Katters, Hansons and Bernardis of this world. As proven in the Turnbull era debate on company tax cuts, Hanson was against, then for, then against the mechanism. Bernardi is preaching a return to ‘the good old days’ (while probably having a quiet chuckle about how August 2018 panned out for his ex-colleagues). Palmer is a series of billboards at this stage while Katter still hasn’t publicly rebuked his newest Senator’s maiden speech.
We also have some additional evidence that right-wing politicians are not necessarily across all that they should be. You may have missed something amongst the Turnbull/Dutton ‘will they, won’t they, Nah — they couldn’t be THAT stupid, oh — hang on they can’, events of August.
ZDF, a German broadcasting network, as a part of a regular series of interviews with domestic political leaders, interviewed one of their ‘far right’ leaders. Thomas Walde, the interviewer, made the decision to ask Alexander Gauland, the co-leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, questions that related to policies his party should have that were unrelated to the usual ‘far right’ agenda.
According to US publication, The Atlantic the network teased the interview on Twitter as dealing with “climate change, retirement, digitalization—and without refugees.”
The resulting 19-minute interview, in which Gauland struggles to answer basic questions about his party’s positions on such issues, has been lauded by opponents of the AfD as masterful. Supporters of the AfD and Gauland himself panned it as biased. The ZDF journalist Thomas Walde, who conducted the interview, repeatedly pushed Gauland to clarify or explain statements made by his fellow party members — and asked more than once about proposed policy “alternatives” from a party that counts the word alternative as part of its name.
Regardless of whether you agree with them or not, the Liberals, Labor, Nationals and Greens do have readily available policies on most if not all of the requirements to manage a modern democracy that their elected politicians can elaborate on. Pauline Hanson has demonstrated time and time again that she has no idea of education, economics or finance. Cory Bernardi claims to be ‘a better way’ and his policies are listed on his website, but a couple of paragraphs on selected topics doesn’t give much certainty that there is any underlying substance. Clive Palmer has a number of electronic billboards with vague slogans like ‘Make Australia Great’ and ‘Put Australia First’ accompanied by his photo and a representation of the Australian flag — but no contact details or references to where you can find out what he represents.
As an example, imagine if Bob Katter was asked by an interviewer about the benefits of ‘congestion-busting’ public transport funding in Australia’s capital cities? We know what happens if Katter is challenged — it was on show for all to see outside Queensland’s Parliament House early in September when his media conference was convened in close proximity to a local university’s ‘Socialist Alternative’ protest in support of refugees. The results were not edifying or encouraging.
If right-wing ‘single issue’ Australian politicians who crave publicity but can only deliver rainbow unicorns and pixiedust as solutions to the majority of issues facing this country were interviewed carefully ignoring their ‘special subjects’, it may show the real character behind the façade of Australia’s popularist politicians. It worked in the ZDF interview with Alexander Gauland and many years ago, 4ZZZ, then owned by the University of Queensland Student Union, asked then Queensland Premier Bjelke-Petersen the same question over 50 times without getting a genuine answer but making a really good point.
If you want to be a politician, shouldn’t you have to have positions on all aspects of government, and wouldn’t it be good to see if the right-wing micro parties do?
What do you think?
This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.
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