Way, way back in ‘72, Gough Whitlam won government from a tired Coalition that had simply run out of puff. The Leadership was in chaos, they were pretty much out of ideas, they had no idea or desire of how to extract us from the looming defeat in Vietnam, party leaders were compromise candidates rather than strong leaders. Basically they were ripe for the picking even though Labor had not been in power since one Election beyond WW2.
Along came Whitlam. A man with charisma, more ideas than he could possibly achieve in a single term of Government, an easy humour, a sharp wit, and the strength to control his party (a rare skill). He was facing an opponent who’s main claim to fame was (and this is true) a missus with the best set of legs in Aussie Government history. Lady McMahon’s visit to the White House in the days on Nixon scandalised Conservatives in both countries.
A serious part of the success of Gough was the It’s Time advertising campaign. Having already established himself as a Statesman with a visit to China, which Nixon did the following year, and showing himself prepared to get us out of Vietnam, he had the popular support, ideas, and now the advertising campaign to get the job done. He was the front runner in the polls and delivered on polling day, breaking Labor’s 23 year drought.
But here is the catch with this style of campaign. You have to back up that slogan with either ideas, or a blanket advertising campaign that’s heavy on fluff, and light on policies. If you don’t present yourself as the alternative Government, then you look like the spoilt brat that demands his turn and that is a place you want to avoid at all costs.
And that seems to be where the South Australian Opposition is at the moment. Looking from outside the State, it seems that Jay Weatherill is the most dynamic of the potential leaders and he doesn’t take a backward step when it comes to dealing with Canberra. Who can forget him cleaning Josh Frydenberg’s clock over energy matters? Usually State pollies let the Feds take all the credit when they have actually been the biggest obstacle but Weatherill crashed the PR session and took no prisoners giving him both barrels. Now whenever we see Josh we can’t help remembering the most popular video clip for that year. Type Weatherill in YouTube and the first suggestion it offers is a search with Josh.
While we are on the topic of It’s Time, I can’t let Nick Xenophon (SA Best) off the hook with his bizarre attempt to re-enact Gough’s advertising campaign. It looks like a cross between It’s Time, Con the Fruiterer, and an Indian Musical. Check it out here. Usually Senator X is that brand of pollie that loves the camera, loves to talk a big game, but in the end as soon as the photo op has been secured, he rolls over.
The quality of Adelaide water has always suffered from States higher up the Murray River taking what they want and leaving South Oz with whatever they can’t use themselves. When negotiations were underway Nick made a big song and dance about blocking the Bill in the Senate. Then he entered negotiations and earned the promise that the Feds MIGHT look into the scheme in a few years time to see if it was working. That doesn’t sound like the sort of chap I would want to stick up for me.
Looking at the polls for next Saturday it looks like Nick might not score any seats, but his preferences might aid the Liberal party he once lived in and regularly voted with in the Senate. It will be sad for South Australia if they move away from a dynamic Leader to someone who believes it’s his turn and is propped up by a self promoter rather than one who looks out for South Oz.
Gough Whitlam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gough_Whitlam
Lady McMahon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_McMahon
William (Billy) McMahon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McMahon#Prime_Minister
It’s Time advert https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqMCZBjvmD4
Jay Weatherill https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Weatherill
Video clip Weatherill stitches up Frydenberg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHrVtEeMOW4
Josh Frydenberg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Frydenberg
SA Best advert https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZdl1o7eOyo
This article was originally published on 1PETERMCC’S Blog.