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Serial complaining

By Peter McCarthy

I accept that I am a political junkie who delights in watching election campaigns, even to the point of trying to watch the last general election in the UK, but I’m somewhat bemused by the incessant complaining about our upcoming election in Australia.

It seems it’s now fashionable to whine long and loud about it being too long an adventure, and there is some sort of competition between voters and the political commentators, each trying for some sort of gold standard of showing off their dissatisfaction, or perhaps a better word is ignorance.

It’s frightfully unseemly and counterproductive if we want a healthy democracy, and dare I say a little bit immature not to recognise our thoughtful input is required to steer those we put in charge of the system?

It also flies in the face of the usual complaint that we don’t get enough information about party policies.

Granted, the Liberal Party has dropped back to ‘3-word slogans’ – much favored by their previous leader – after teasing the voters with the promise of straight talking, but on the Labor side we have seen a lot of ideas and the opportunity to review and criticize those ideas if we feel unhappy with the direction.

This is a great leap forward from the usual process and one we should be embracing wholeheartedly.

This time around Labor has surprised the voters – and to an even larger degree, the Liberal Party – by having a lot of policies already mapped out, and even more importantly, most of the team seem to be across the detail. This stands out starkly against their opponents where the slogans are being deployed, but the detail is often not understood by their team, and it’s now become fashionable to try and trip them up on radio interviews.

Add to that the supposed experts – like the Treasurer and the PM – are prone to becoming over excited and start making claims that crash and burn when examined in detail. The PM looked especially silly when it was discovered he was making his claims about negative gearing on gut feeling rather than any financial modelling. Even the impact of Labor’s policy confused the Liberals when it came to what would happen to prices. Malcolm called it one way while across town Kelly O’Dwyer, part of the Treasurer’s team and presumably with some economic expertise, was claiming the exact opposite.

But luckily for their party, commentators are pushing the line that it’s a long and boring campaign and they seem unaware they could be serving the community by actually doing their job and asking the harder questions.

The Liberal Party is painfully exposed to direct questions about “Jobs and Growth” and nobody appears interested in what that actually means. Even the discredited trickle-down economics generally gets a free pass and heaven help them if questions are asked about the delivery of government services or the sneaky increase in the cost of a doctor’s visit. Some Ministers even appear outraged if their policies are questioned. Michaelia Cash is especially outraged to be asked questions.

There is a mountain of opportunity out there for commentators to sink their teeth into, but it takes more effort than simply tweaking Party press releases and then you have some who are simply paid to spruik the Party line. For those folk the complaining about the length of the campaign is a helpful tool to disengage the voters and they are exploiting it to the max.

I suspect the boffins who are in charge of tactics over at Liberal HQ are having a serious rethink about how the long campaign idea is playing out. Normally it would be a good idea, but not when your opponent has their act together and your own team does not. The problems have been amplified by Mathias and his robotic delivery of the mantra “Jobs and Growth”. Folks’ eyes are glazing over before he get to the word “and”. Malcom has to share the blame too. Malcolm the likeable has terrible body language when he moves away from his comfortable social side and into over-the-top rhetoric about his opponents. He simply can’t hide his discomfort when he tries to push “Labor’s war on … ”

In all likelihood Malcolm will survive especially if he can avoid scrutiny of his mantra, but imagine what happens if they lose control of the media questions and voters start taking note of his simplistic tactic? He is certainly encouraging criticism when you see the startling video clip of his single-parent upbringing. That seemed more appropriate as a Labor negative campaign than actually out of Liberal ranks.

We still have 3 weeks to go and the negative adverts are due to start. I, for one, will be enjoying the battle and keeping an eye on the gullibility of Aussie voters. I’m thinking the Abbott experience should have heightened their awareness of ‘3-word slogans’ but how many have learned from it remains to be seen.


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  1. wam

    can’t remember who (insiders???) but I remember:
    the rabbott’s slogans had a verb whilst turnball has none? a plan but no plan for jobs? growth in what? a new economy how?
    if billy can get the economy hit on the rabbott and his merry men who rule turnball????
    time for a few barbs into the barby dolls about defence, droopy kelly treasury, jobs for cash and juicy julie?

  2. 1petermcc

    It was Insiders Wam. I hadn’t noticed before Karen Middleton pointed out the verb is missing. It adds to the silent admission that Tony broke brand Liberal so the bright and shiny blue L had to make way for the boring replacement.

    Considering how accountability is so offensive to the Liberal party, it’s just another step in wriggle room if their economic performance continues as it has.

    The summary from Insiders mentioned the original plan was to say and offer little in a steady as she goes tactic, and I’d agree with that. Unfortunately for the Liberal party, Labor dropped the “me too” approach of a few years ago and completely undid that defence.

  3. helvityni

    ‘ Michaelia Cash is especially outraged to be asked questions.’
    What’s new, she’s always outraged; she’s outraged when you say ‘good morning’ to her, also if you don’t…

    I’m can be angry too, especially when Ms Sales allows Morrison to rant on when it’s Bowen’s turn to answer her questions…..

    I was pleased though with Shorten’s responses to the pompous Tony Jones on Q&A…

  4. michaelattoowoomba

    Great post Peter,I look forward to more of your posts. apologies but I want to post a link slightly of off topic but relevant to the parkkella [or whatever the name of libs current dodge to rort tax payers is ] .The link is to an article from July 2014 Independant Media about I P A

    https://youtu.be/qZ_Kbiwl2ok……Sorry couldn’t get link to copy so I slipped this interesting video instead. The article I was referring was,

    https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-ipa-and-waubra-foundations-charitable-tax-status-rorts,6649#.VJQw_JiGY8c.facebook .sorry look like link worked this time,here’s hoping.Vote Liberals LAST###.M F..

  5. Shogan

    1petermcc – “the original plan was to say and offer little in a steady as she goes tactic”

    A bit like “continuity and change” and they had to “borrow” that from somewhere else too, just the same as “jobs and growth” is straight out of G.W. Bush’s campaign for President…have they ever had any original ideas??

    Also makes me laugh when they say Labor has no plan, especially after all the detailed and costed policies Labor have released, and yet the Liberal’s budget, which is their election campaign, is nothing nothing more than a list of Titles looking for a story that might give them some form of substance, no matter how malleable they might be.

    It really beggars belief!!

  6. 1petermcc

    Thank you kindly michaelattoowoomba, both for the compliment and the excellent clip of acerbic Stuart Littlemore. How the anti-ABC forces hated him.

    At that time the ABC would bend over backwards to accommodate the Murdoch stable of complainers trying to remove quality from the ABC. Having a living example of good journalism to compare against the hacks infuriated them as indeed it should have. Nothing worse than having your material being shown up as paid political commentary for businesses that these days have been disgraced and discarded.

    I say “back then” but I fear we have seen somewhat of a return to a defensive attitude at the ABC since the arrival of the recent removed PM. The best example I saw of this was an item posted by the ABC about broken promises. It mentioned a few of them but timidly ignored the broken promise of not cutting funding to the ABC which was a red hot issue at that time.

    Thank you for the second link too, and I would encourage other readers to have a look at that material as long as they don’t have any issues with depression. It’s quite scandalous how much funny money is in play and some of those think tanks exactly mirror the same tactics used by the Koch brothers in US politics.

    If the Aim network allow it, I’ll send them my 2 part blog post that draws comparisons between the US Conservatives and our own. They employ the exact same play book with the only real difference being an even more open system to corruption in the US.

  7. richard grant

    I wonder what has happened to the Mal Blough inquiry by the Federal Police….. maybe we will hear something after the election or could we have a raid on Liberal Party HQ.

  8. 1petermcc

    I must admit to being surprised by this Liberal campaign, Shogan. When the Liberal party finally conceded that Tony had to go, I assumed they were going to have to

    a. do some rebranding,
    b. take several layers of skin off Tony for treating the Voters so badly
    c. kill off the worst of the legislation held up in the Senate
    d. promise to do better with improved policies

    So far I’m batting 25% but in my defence I claim a more sensible approach.

    We certainly have “a”, but Tony was roundly praised even though the party knew he was totally on the nose with the Voters. That gives the impression the Party was happy with the message but not the messenger. Step “c” has not been addressed and I haven’t noticed anyone mention that. To the best of my knowledge, a wage cut for serving members of our military are still waiting in the wings, There are other Budget measures that offended the Independents still waiting as well but I’m not hearing any conversation.

    The lack of action on “d” is the most amazing of all. Having driven the Black Hole (that Tony claimed he would defeat in his first term) to near triple it’s original size, what we have appears to be a “business as usual” promise. That’s the sort of record they should never have dared stand on because the risk is the Media finally noticing blood in the water and strip their record bare. 10 out of 10 for courage, but Sir Humphrey Appleby would rightly describe it as “courageous”.

    I don’t know how others view this Liberal campaign, but for mine it looks like they have lost the skills you would normally expect to see from the Party. It seems amateurish and almost like they didn’t know the campaign was coming.

  9. You can't be serious?

    “…….but I’m somewhat bemused by the incessant complaining about our upcoming election in Australia.”

    The complaints seem to be not about the upcoming election per se but about the length of the campaign, how we are treated during the campaign by the major parties (as if they are both treating us the same, which they are not) and that it is “boring”, as Leigh Sales to her discredit put the issue to a politician (can’t remember which on) on 7.30 Report recently.

    Apparently the MSM prefers internal party dysfunction and blood on the floor, over a campaign based on the issues and policy responses and a sober assessment of past performance and outcomes.

    This shallow, witless and in the end probably damaging to democracy complaint that the campaign is boring is somewhat concerning. It invites politicians to provide bread and circuses and “entertainment”. The media’s desire for political “entertainment”, partly explains why politicians behave as they do. If we want politics that deals with the issues, then that is not going to be very “entertaining” and will not feed the chooks.

    The campaign length issue? I am happy about this as it is exposing strengths and weaknesses in policy and candidates and allows this information to disseminate into the community. It has been to Labor’s advantage so far.

  10. 1petermcc

    You raise an interesting point, serious. I hadn’t thought about the structure of the news gatherers. They seem to be primed for soap opera rather than expert analysis. Now doesn’t that make you want to run a warm bath and open up a vein??

  11. win jeavons

    We must insist that politics is about how we live ; it is NOT entertainment but calls for serious thought and accurate information . Much of the media is merely rubbish propaganda doing nothing to enable intelligent decision making. They should held accountable for their scandal sheets which pretend to publish news.

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