Politics is a game. Its other name is, “beat your opponent.” To win you say whatever you must to get votes. In this game, truth is the first casualty. Thus, facts are an inconvenient truth that need to be managed in a way that can serve one’s best interests.
If that means distorting, engineering or misrepresenting, then that’s what political parties do. Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced this week a promise of 1.25 million jobs over the next 5 years. What he didn’t tell us that 250,000 new jobs annually, is about the average job creation rate that has occurred naturally over the past decade. It is due mostly to population increase, of which immigration is a major contributor. It is not due to any government jobs and growth initiatives.
That’s Morrison playing the game. He has taken something that happens naturally and presented it as something positive and creative about his government’s performance. Interestingly, Tony Abbott pulled the same trick in 2013. It might be in the Liberal party manual.
If the Coalition had been creating jobs over the past five years, then one would expect some reduction in the number of people actively looking for work over the same period. In September 2013 there were 706,400 people unemployed. In December 2018 there were 680,800 seasonally adjusted. The unemployment rate has gone down, but only because more people are participating.
Good journalism is supposed to see through deceptions like this and call them out. One fears we are going to see a lot more of it from the Coalition over the next three months, because the reality is, they have done precious little about jobs and growth.
As the federal election draws near, you can be sure the mainstream media (MSM) will waste much of their time on the trivial and ignore most of what’s really important.
We can confidently anticipate that policy initiatives will take second place to personalities, preferred music, how one dresses, which candidate better manages eating the great Aussie meat pie, and so on.
Things like the preferred prime minister, which looks at form and completely ignores substance, will be a weekly, if not a daily talking point for the breakfast shows, radio shock jocks and evening television satire.
Negative wedging will also be the order of the day for the journalists on the hustings, desperate for a scoop. Get one candidate to confirm or deny what might sound like some vague reference to a statement by a staffer that was misinterpreted by a journalist while he was asking about something else altogether and before we know it, the campaign has been side-tracked from the real to the imagined.
Journalists love this kind of triviality and they will spend a lot of energy trying to catch candidates out on their knowledge, or lack of it, on what the tax rate is for pensioners or what the current mortgage rate is, or how much a loaf of bread costs, or even the population of Broken Hill.
This is exactly what the Coalition would want. They will do anything to deflect attention away from policy initiatives because they don’t have any. And you can be sure a compliant media will knock themselves out each day, trying to deliver those meaningless fifteen-second sound bites for the 6pm news, regardless of their relevance to good government.
While Labor has made its position clear on education, climate change, negative gearing, superannuation concessions, family tax benefits, education, Sunday penalty rates, infrastructure, multi-national tax avoidance, imputation credits and a more humane approach to Asylum Seekers, the Coalition has been doing the bidding of the IPA.
Deregulation of business; privatization of public activities and assets; elimination of, or cutbacks in, social welfare programs; reductions in aged pensions, pay-as-you-go health care, and tax breaks for business and the investing class, are all part of its manifesto.
If Scott Morrison has his way, the big issue will be the economy. The electorate rate him and his government as better economic managers. They are wrong about that, but he knows the media are not smart enough, or won’t want to challenge the outrageous claims we can expect to hear from both him and Josh Frydenberg.
The reality is, the Coalition has failed miserably with the economy and they know it. Over the past five years, low wage growth has seen our living standards decline and inequality increase. Every act, so far, by the Coalition government has exacerbated that inequality. This time, however, the voters know it too. They feel it.
They know that the ‘debt and deficit disaster’ mantra was false. They have seen the ruthless approach in cutting funds to vital services. The Coalition has demonstrated all too clearly that they govern for their masters, the corporate sector, the mining industry, the banks, the finance houses.
This election, if we want facts to matter, we need to reinforce them across every social media platform we can access. We cannot rely on the MSM to their proper job. We must to do it for them, shame them, expose them for their dereliction of duty and ensure that those with whom we are in daily contact, know the facts. And we need to do it loudly.
This election, facts will be important; actual facts, that is, not the ones spin-doctored to make them appear something they are not. We need to ask the right questions and ensure we question all the answers.
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