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Marketing Pixiedust

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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  1. Matters Not

    As always, it’s a good thought-provoking article. Re:

    the ‘message’ delivered by politicians

    Messaging is always complicated. And uncertain. First, there is the intended message – the ‘hoped for’ emotive response evoked from a target audience. Second, there is the actual response – which may be some distance from what was intended. Then there’s what seems to be a meaningless phrase which can elicit positive responses from a wide audience.

    Two historical examples (which worked):


    Give whatever meaning you like to that. Millions did – it was quite positive and it endured for some time. Then there was:


    Made Nike a motza. And it’s still in vogue.


    Then there was jobs and growth. Like the above two ads, it had just three words (the gold standard) but it didn’t resonate. Yes messaging is an uncertain business. Sometimes IT’S TIME but not always.

  2. jamesss

    I am convinced not one party within Australia could formulate a policy to manage a shit house in the desert.

  3. Matters Not


    If you want to be a politician, shouldn’t you have to have positions on all aspects of government

    Maybe, but perhaps a bridge too far given the breadth of government activity. Nevertheless, before we elect any aspiring politician we should have some idea of their values and then some idea of the broad principles which guide their everyday life. Historical examples should be encouraged.

    It would be a start at least.

  4. Phil

    I agree that politicians elected to represent an electorate, and those who are challenging in order to win representation, should be broadly familiar with the full suite of their policies. Bill Shorten comes as close as any current federal politician to have a sound grasp of his party’s full policy suite.

    Morrison has no real grasp of Liberal/National policy, in part because he lacks the intellectual ability having spent far too much time playing internal power games and attending to his Pentecostal ‘born again’ underpinnings. Binoy Kampmark recently on this site described him as oafish and amateurish – and how apt that description is.

    He has Ruddock’s religious freedom report but won’t release it until he has stirred a debate in favour of its recommendations. His religious belief so strongly controls him that it has already led him to spend inordinate time on irrelevant matters of Christian faith that have nothing to do with effectively governing the country.

  5. Matters Not


    Bill Shorten … a sound grasp of his party’s full policy suite

    Indeed he has. But perhaps only from a political perspective. Indeed his whole team seem focussed only on what will work politically – at the expense of good public policy.

    But then again they are politicians. Principles (which might be universalised) don’t get due and proper consideration. Seems like it’s a race to the political bottom.

  6. Andrew Smith

    Good article, showing the issue of our media being in the same cultural, political and media orbit as MPs i.e. seemingly incapable of interrogating broad issues, or afraid of upsetting someone.

    A visiting NYC University journalism academic, think Prof. Jay Rosen, had Tony Jones (partner of Sarah Henderson who gave Bannon a powder puff opportunity because she and researchers did not know what to ask), huffing and puffing in defence of Australian journalists.

    Rosen suggested that it was all a bit clubby and familiar e.g. Insiders exemplifying the issue, while Jones claimed that no!, Australian journalists really know ‘how to ask the hard questions’…. Rosen, one recalls, responded with a sceptical ‘of course you do’.

  7. Kampbell

    Just on messaging, I get a lot of USA news on Youtube ie MSNBC, CNN etc. I have noticed a lot of these videos have advertising from Clive Palmers latest foray into the political arena, with clips from the various morning shows… and news items featured. It will be interesting to see how far he gets with this, as I never see Liberial/National/Labor advertising showing up on these same channels.

  8. DrakeN

    “If you want to be a politician, shouldn’t you have to have positions on all aspects of government…)

    It is a matter of who you know, not what you know; ergo the question is redundant.

  9. Kyran

    It is sad to note that our current soon to be ex PM is already being surpassed by the candidature of the next soon to be ex-PM. As you mentioned, Joshy started his media tour de force on Insiders when, as newly installed treasurer, he spoke of everything bar treasury and managed to say nothing. There were some mildly amusing non statements though. He batted away at bullying, and women, and firmly committed to doing absolutely nothing about it, because doing nothing but talking about it was good enough – it is, after all, the liberal way.
    “CASSIDY: But Kelly O’Dwyer, Julie Bishop, and others, don’t have any problem saying that there’s bullying going on within the Liberal Party. Why do the blokes have a problem declaring that?
    FRYDENBERG: Well, I think what we do have is a problem in the Liberal Party, that I’m determined and Scott Morrison is determined to address, which is to get more female representations in the Parliament, and in my first comments to the party room, having been elected deputy leader, I said we needed to get more women into safe seats as well as at the top table. And Scott Morrison, in his first Cabinet, saw additional female representation.
    CASSIDY: Alright, do you want to be the first man then to declare support for quotas?
    FRYDENBERG: No, I don’t support quotas but I note that Julie Bishop during the week did not support quotas.
    CASSIDY: So how do you get there?
    FRYDENBERG: We have, as a party, a 50% target for female representation by 2025. We now, and Kelly O’Dwyer has helped to lead this, we now have a fighting fund. We’re focused on recruitment, retention, mentoring, which is absolutely critical here, and in order to get more women into these seats. Now, I have to point out that over the course of the last week, Jane Hume was re-endorsed for the Senate here in Victoria. Yesterday we endorsed two women on our senate ticket in Tasmania and we’ve also seen other females in in Mayo and McNamara.”

    As for the separation of church and state, Joshy is right on it. He is not at all like Scummo, who only does semi-christian things once a week.

    “CASSIDY: As it turns out, tomorrow would have been your first day in Question Time as Treasurer, and you won’t be there?
    FRYDENBERG: I won’t, because it’s the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah and Scott Morrison and the party have been very understanding, and Michael Damby won’t be there and Julian Leeser and other Jewish members of the team won’t be there. It’s a part of my faith and I’m glad I’m able to adhere to that.
    CASSIDY: Has the Labor Party been understanding as well, will you get a pair?
    FRYDENBERG: Yes, they have.”


    See? The new soon to be ex-PM is religious too, except he takes time off work to do it. It was reported elsewhere as well.
    “Newly appointed Liberal deputy leader Josh Frydenberg took time off on Monday – his first sitting day as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s second-in-charge – to commemorate his Hebrew faith on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
    He, like the many devout Jews will now begin the Ten Days of Awe, otherwise known as the Ten Days of Repentance.”
    Talk about shock and awe. Whilst I am in awe of him taking time to ‘repent’, I am shocked to think he thinks that “a 10-day period of penitence, compelling them to think of misdeeds and repent” would be anywhere near adequate enough for him. Joshy, Joshy, Joshy. You are not any ordinary sinner. You are a parliamentary sinner. That means those affected by your sins are not merely an equation, but an exponential multiplicative. 10 days won’t be enough to contemplate your misdeeds, let alone any suggestion of repentance.
    Kronomex linked to an article about the next new soon to be ex-PM, being a continuation of his media offensive, or is that offensive media?


    Not to be outdone, Katherine Murphy pursed her lips and dispensed smoke where it should not go. Blowing smoke into that cavity or orifice, whilst apparently ingratiating for sycophants, is not recommended for any healthy organisms.


    As yet, his strategy of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” regarding his Sect 44 eligibility hasn’t even been contemplated by his media cheer squad.


    Going on the modus operandi of these mutants, when Scummo gets dumped and Joshy nominates, Scummo will suggest referral to the High Court. Does anyone know if Scummo has an apartment overseas?
    Marketing Pixiedust? Nah. These blokes have definitely been inhaling something though. They are now trying to convince us if they dispense enough pixiedust on enough turds, we’ll partake of the same delusions.
    Thankyou 2353NM and commenters. Take care

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