In his syndicated column this week Laurie Oakes tells us that the Coalition is about to launch a big budget advertising campaign against the Prime Minister. He describes it as an “Artillery barrage”. The campaign comprises both positive and negative advertisements and are based on the results of focus group interviews.
As former marketing man let me tell you a little about my experience with focus groups. Generally speaking they accomplishing little. The people in the groups usually know little about the product or service being discussed. Those that do tend to dominate the others and you end up with a distorted view. When this becomes apparent the convener resorts to questions designed to get the answers they want or what the client expects. A waste of time in my view.
Mr Oakes says that the advertisements will attack Kevin Rudd’s performance in his first period as PM on a number of fronts. They will presented as facts but because Truth Matters I will address them individually.
“Fact: Kevin Rudd was borrowing 100 million dollars every day”.
Malcolm Turnbull the then opposition leader agreed with the borrowing (all be it at a lessor amount) and the reasons for doing so. Conservatives are in complete denial of the fact that a Global Financial Crisis actually occurred. Remember the Treasury advice. Go in big and go in hard. Australians should be thankful Rudd took it.
“Fact: Now we have a 254-billion dollar debt”.
Yes we do. Some is being used to build the NBN and on completion when it is sold will be returned to general revenue and repaid. Most economists and world economic institutions give high praise for the government’s handling of what could have been this country’s greatest ever financial disaster. We had a choice. The disaster or the debt. I for one am glad we chose the debt. And remember that it is as a percentage to GDP almost the lowest in the world.
“Fact: He wasted up to eight billion dollars on school hall rip offs”.
The schools building program was more successful than Tony Abbott would have us believe. Three comprehensive reports from the BER Implementation Taskforce chaired by businessman Brad Orgill showed over 97% satisfaction with the program. The report said: “Overall, the Taskforce found that the majority of education authorities attained value for money and delivered quality education facilities. The Final Report notes that the program has touched every community in Australia, and delivered substantial stimulus.” There was some overcharging, mostly in NSW where the rollout was fastest. There was some waste, but overall there was value for money, not billions of dollars wasted as the opposition asserted. The report said that the majority of those who had children at the schools where improvements had been made were well satisfied with the program.
“Fact: He was the architect of the roof batt’s disaster”.
The much maligned pink bats program was not the disaster the opposition made it out to be. Official records show that there were no fires in 99.98% of the million ceilings insulated. Two in ten thousand (224) had fires and just thirty had structural damage. This rate of fires was less than occurred prior to the HIP So that ironically the scheme in the long term has actually prevented house fires.
Tony Abbott has stated, “No good government would ever spend more than a billion dollars putting pink batts into roofs and a billion dollars to take them out again.” This has been shown to be a lie. The cost of rectification of faulty insulation installation was nowhere near that figure. Around twenty percent of ceilings had inspections but only 4.2% had rectification works to make them safe.
“Fact: In 2008 he dismantled our border protection polices and now 45,000 boat people have flooded in”.
Yes to a degree he did dismantle the policy at a time when Middle Eastern conflict had calmed down. And dismantling the Pacific Solution was a bipartisan decision. The pull factors of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka had not yet begun. Mr Abbotts mantra of “Stop the boats’’ still rings in our ears but if anything, the boats are increasing and Mr Abbott can no longer guarantee anything. He can now only promise to” substantially reduce the flow of boats”.
What has changed?
The Government has adopted most of the Coalition’s policies on boat arrivals – including offshore processing and protection visas – leaving Abbott with just one point of differentiation. He has promised to turn the boats around and added the proviso ‘When safe to do so” in the full knowledge that the navy will not do so.
The truth of what has happened is that Abbott has decided to backtrack on his two and a half-year promise knowing that for this period he has engaged in the most racist vile dog whistling politics focused on people who are politically ignorant and disengaged. All for gaining votes in seats in the Western suburbs of Sydney.
At the time of writing, Abbott and Morrison are running away from their policy of stopping the Boats faster than Usain Bolt over 100 meters. Now they cannot say if or when they might be able to fulfil their long-standing undeniable commitment of the past two and a half years.
On Andrew Bolts 2GB Program Scott Morrison admitted the ‘stop the boats’ promise was something the Opposition would only be ‘attempting’ to do if they make it to government – and he could not say when. In fact, he said a Coalition Government wouldn’t ‘stop the boats’ but rather be ‘aiming’ for the same levels as under Howard.
When repeatedly asked when a Coalition Government could reduce the number of boats to Howard-era levels in their first term, he responded with:
‘I’m not making such forecasts’
‘I don’t put timeframes on it’
Therefore, the leader of the opposition has finally after two and a half years admitted that he has really been taking the Australian people for a ride. He is guilty of playing race politics with people’s lives. And the pity is that had he been following the ministry of his Lord, he could have been part of the solution. He has no more chance of stopping the boats under the current circumstances than does Labor.
Well spending one and a half billion dollars on seven drones so as he knows where they are might help.
“Fact: He attacked our mining industry with a super profits tax that failed”.
The super profits in principle is a sound tax because it produces a more equitable share of the country’s wealth and was designed to be most fruitful at times when excessive profits are being made. Commodity prices dipped and so did the revenues. A smart government would retain it. And it did raise around 250 million.
“Fact: He did a backflip on the carbon emissions trading scheme and supported the world’s biggest carbon tax”.
For a start, it is an ETS with a 3 year fixed price period, but that aside:
“According to a 2009 US Department of Energy report, Sweden applied a “standard” rate of US$104.83 per tonne of CO2 and an “industry” rate of US$23.04 per tonne of CO2, Norway’s tax ranged from US$15.93 to US$61.76 while Finland applied a rate of US$30 per tonne. Earlier this year the Climate Institute released its Global Climate Leadership Review 2012 where Sweden’s carbon price was given as US$130/tonne CO2 — while other sources estimate it as $150/tonne. When calculated on the basis of Gross National Income, Australia’s carbon price is lower even than India.”
The carbon tax has proven to be effective in driving down our emissions. Abbott has in the past even admitted that it was the best method. His direct action plan is nothing more than a joke and commentators are treating it as such. I am firmly of the belief that the LNP are in such denial climate change that they have little intention of doing anything.
“Fact: With five budget deficits and the carbon tax Kevin Rudd and Labor have driven up the cost of living”.
Kevin Rudd and Labor have NOT “driven up the cost of living”. Recent figures show that due to reduced interest rates, changes in tax thresholds, etc, the average family has $7,000 MORE disposable income than in 2007.
The fact is that the carbon tax is responsible for a 1.2% increase in the cost of living. We have a measure called the Consumer Price Index that measures the cost of living. This is in the reserve bank’s target range. I think the conservatives get confused between the cost of living and the cost of lifestyle.
“Fact: Now he’s divided the Labor Party again, with one third of cabinet ministers refusing to work with him”.
There is no doubt that Kevin Rudd has stood on a few toes within the party however when I compare his character with that of Tony Abbott’s I am almost at a loss for words. The people can make that judgement.
I have not seen the advertisements however I would suggest that they may just have a reverse effect. That being that they will continue to brand Tony Abbott in a most negative fashion. A person who is constantly negative with little good to say about anything or anyone. Australians are just sick of all the negative stuff.
“The conservatives would do better to concentrate on why Mr Abbott is so unpopular”.
Fact finders should have a ball with all this.