Look, I hate to say I told you so, I wanted to be wrong, but… I wrote this back on the 28th of April, “Will the Coalition lose after all” where I discussed the full deck of odious right wing parties on the ballots in Queensland and their preference flows, not to mention the lack of choice, it was ALP, Green, LNP or Right Wing crap. This massively helped the LNP, if you were not sure of ALP, but didn't really want to vote LNP, all of a sudden the LNP didn't look so bad. It was not pretty and is even uglier this morning.
I won't belabour preferences but just think, the all encompassing Clive Palmer advertising - you know, yelling loudly "DON'T TRUST LABOR & BILL SHORTEN", the stuff the Liberals & Nationals didn't think they could say out loud - and the Liberals suspiciously helping out Palmer on the polling booths, including a Minister no less? Yeah... I'm sure it has nothing to do with Clive's mining interests that he is struggling to get approved? Watch that space.
Though if economists are right and we are heading into a downturn, I guess luck will have run out for the Liberals – they never seem to be in power when the poo hits the fan economically - and we will finally get to see how they manage a recession?
Can't wait to see the looks on the 'aspirational bogans' who "wanted to keep more of their money" and 'aspired to negatively gear half a dozen houses' faces when their mortgage defaults in those dark looking economic conditions. Thank Dog! ALP's 'housing tax' didn't win huh? How good is 'aspiration' hey! (yes serious sarcasm).
Now, over the next few days we will see all the recriminations, thought pieces, highly nuanced of course (yes I am being sarcastic) as to how the polls got it all so wrong and “How good is Scott Morrison huh”, complete with hero shot of Morrison smirking of course. Anyhow I thought I would get in early with what I think went wrong.
Big Fat LIES!
Now before I go any further, I’m not playing that #NotAllMen type crap. When I say MEDIA I am doing so for ease of characters, of course I don’t mean ALL Media. And… I am only talking about ‘mainstream’ media, the ones who have the biggest reach to get out to the public, the ones the nightly commercial news get their lead stories from. Sadly, Indy’s just don’t have the reach yet. I also include Facebook in this catch-all ‘media’ terminology.
The Guardian is probably the only mainstream media outlet who have truthfully engaged during this election and were not held hostage to the big fat lies narrative. This is sad.
Everyone is hating on Queensland now and to be honest, fair call. I’ve apologised for my state many times over the years. Though people should also be thinking “OMG! How could so many Queenslanders believe a campaign based on lies and fear?”
Yep you guessed it. Media.
There are too many lies to bother listing them all so I will just look at the “Retiree Tax” as a case in point, noting this so-called tax actually morphed into a ‘Pensioner Tax’ somehow once it hit the community groups on Facebook.
The minority of Australians who actually were informed knew this was “Labor's Dividend Imputation Policy” and would only affect a small percentage of wealthy Australians. Good idea, save billions of dollars by getting rid of a loophole.
No. This became one of the biggest issues of the campaign. Not because it affected millions of Australians, but because media went along with the Government narrative and decided, yep, this is one of the biggest issues of the campaign, let’s flog it. Right down to the fact they did not even refer to the policy by it’s correct name. They took to calling it a ‘retiree tax’ too?
If you didn’t have your head up your arse and actually talked to people on the ground or looked at Nanna’s Facebook community you would know that this massively misleading ‘retiree tax’ worked. If you pinged a journalist about misleading the public, they played the “just reporting what the Government said…” line, yeah… look how well that worked out? Informing the public? MYEH!
I heard people on radio, pensioners, genuinely stressed to hell, struggling already thinking they were going to be taxed more. These people would not know a Franking Credit if they fell over one.
Just for fun, hit up people on likes of Facebook and ask them if the “Dividend Imputation Policy” affected their vote? THEY WON’T KNOW WHAT IT EVEN IS!
Well played Australian media. You really did convince Grandma & Grandad that the ALP, well Bill, were declaring war on them. While you all clutched your Pearls about ‘mediscare’, you actively participated in scaring the shit out of Australian pensioners and those coming close to pension age about a bullshit issue that should not have even been a ‘thing’ due to it affecting so few, while you sat back smugly playing the game of politics, who has more ‘energy’, who has a more interesting ‘campaign’, all the crap that does not matter on the ground to ‘actual people’ and helped a big fat lie meant to scare people work it’s magic.
This is only one example, there were shitloads.
Media also repeated verbatim every lie told. AND don’t tell me we were just reporting what Government said, you can do that, but you should always include context so you are informing the public. To keep repeating “Labor’s debt” or “You can’t manage the country if you can’t manage the economy” or “Government finally back in Surplus” WITHOUT the context of, “THE GOVERNMENT HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED THE DEBT” and “WE ARE NOT IN SURPLUS IT IS JUST A PROMISE – one we have heard before*” - at the very bloody least, well, you are stenographers and denigrated your profession. Hide behind weasel words as much as you like but you became ‘players’, not a fourth estate of any value to the public.
*Ah those heady days of "Debt & Deficit Disaster" and "Budget Emergency" flogged relentlessly by media? How much was the debt then Australian media?
It is no coincidence that the likes of Indi & Warringah were successful with their Independents. They had a massive number of people on the ground - real people talking to other real people about real issues in their electorates, this negated the national narrative of only a few lame non-issues being flogged by the usual suspects as important.
Doing the right thing doesn’t pay
Don’t ya love how media often sit back and bemoan how there is little policy substance nowadays and how citizens have less trust in Government – and media as well actually – and too many seem disengaged? Heard that before?
Well, guess what. Get used to it!
The ABC’s Patricia Karvelas was out of the blocks early with her “Scott Morrison turned Labor strategy into perfect weapon to defeat them” piece and most of it is about ‘campaign strategy’ of course but this line is the one that will actually hurt Australian’s the most into the future:
“It was crazy brave, breaking the orthodoxy that oppositions should slide into government without taking big policy risks.”
Yep, Labor actually put out policies, big policies, policies that looked further ahead than the next newspoll or election, you know stuff that would actually improve Australian’s lives into the future. Sort of an adult thing to do, you know, try to govern the nation in the best interests of all Australians.
A lot of policies, big policies of substance were released by the ALP way ahead of this election. It was really respectful to the voting public for them to know what they were voting for.
Did media reward them for this ‘adult’ behaviour?
Nope, they went along with LNP talking points, they decided it was too hard to actually report policy to the public and fell back on lame “it’s not cutting through” type rubbish – no shit sherlock you never bothered to actually report it much to the public from the viewpoint that affected them.
They scrutinised the hell out of every single policy, boring the public to death fighting over figures in the squillions, all supposedly supplied by “respected economic…” (AKA Govt biz mates or rent-seekers who rely on Govt contracts who had they been Unions with same vested interests would not have been given any credit in media *insert massive eyeroll*) that had punters eyes glazing over lost in the spin.
So what did we learn with this “crazy brave” respecting of the nation by telling them what a potential Labor Government would do?
It does not pay!
Sadly, I doubt I will ever see in my lifetime now any real policy substance to make an informed voting decision again.
Well played Australian media, you have condemned us all to being a politically dumbed down nation where elections will be fought on the basis of the loudest bogan slogan! Trump eat your heart out!
We told you Bill Shorten is unpopular
OK, before all the ALP people start screaming at me… Bill Shorten could be the nicest bloke in the world, BUT, this narrative about him being ‘unpopular’ has run since he became Leader. Whether it has basis or not is beside the point. It has been repeated so often it has become a self-fulfilling fact.
Seriously, ask a disengaged punter, they will invariably say something along the lines of “well, don’t really like Bill Shorten” and when you ask them why you will get an equally vague “well, no-one does”. It is like High School all over again, where some kid is deemed ‘weird’ and that follows that kid through their schooling life, never to be shaken off, no-one knows how it even started, but is a fact of life.
This trope was never going to go away. With ALP leading in polls and narrowly missing out in the last election it was only ever going to be played up further by the usual suspects, so why did the ALP persist?
It is marketing 101. If you have a product that is just not selling on the shelves you either rebrand it, or you replace it with one that will sell. Why the ALP did not do this after the last election is beyond me.
Morrison knew this. It was why he played on it with his rubbish “It is a contest between me and Bill Shorten” line all the time. Might have been nice if Australian media called bullshit on this, as you know, that pesky reality that we have a Westminister system, not a Presidential system, but anyhoo, Morrison knew punters knew nothing about him, so he turned a negative into a positive. Instead of working hard on getting to know who Morrison was, he pulled the daggy dad routine which media loved while pointing at Bill saying “see he is unpopular” and it worked.
As an aside, a fun thing to do is chat to you local ‘old dear’ who worries about ‘moral decay’ and ‘not enough Christian influence’ and tell them how Morrison is one of *those* Christians who speaks in tongues and all that stuff? Go on, give it a go. They are normally horrified. They thought he was a ‘normal Christian’ like the boring old Catholics and Church of England types, you know, mainstream. Sadly, they didn’t learn this stuff coz “OMG! Religion has nothing to do with politics”.
Soooooo Safe Schools, yeah… not so much if you are a gay kid. Hell, the law will probably be changed so Folau can get his job back. Abortion law, Euthanasia Law, Human Rights? Let’s just say, the LNP have previous form in over-ruling states so in three years’ time it could be rather scary regarding these issues. I shudder to think.
BUT hey! The ALP stuck to their man ☹
ALP vs Greens
This one frustrates me no end. I have sat back and watched the Greens and Labor party eat each other prosecuting ‘purist’ fights from years ago and adding more to them. While you were all busy fighting with each other, the Liberals and Nationals sat back laughing.
Now that is how you play the game. The Coalition concept is genius.
They have quite a few policies they both agree on – like ALP & Greens – but still have the doggedness to play to their own audiences with policies that are specific to them. They have it both ways!
They get to claim “Well a Coalition Government has achieved…” and jointly claim credit for any minor thing they might have passed in parliament.
They also get to claim “Well, we are not married, we are separate parties, the Liberals decide who they want to preference, we in the bush think the Nazi’s will help us more” and distance themselves. They are their own men.
And guess what? Media are cool with this. They are sweet to let the Coalition have their cake and eat it too. Brilliant!
The ALP and Greens need to take a leaf out of that book. If they honestly want to win – better yet, give a shit about the Australian public having a better future than what we currently have looming over us – than they must start working together, constructively. They don’t need to be ‘drone-like’, but ‘adults’, work together on common interests instead of fighting.
Where to from here
Well, I know the ALP and Greens probably won’t listen to me, but hey, I’ll give it a red hot go with my 2c.
The ALP need to elect a bold leader. Someone who will not try to be a small target. Someone who will call bullshit without weasel words. Quite frankly, trying to be subtle, or adult just does not work. They will need to do this both in Parliament and when dealing with media.
The media is not ALP’s friend and never will be in the media ownership landscape we have. Honesty does not pay.
Next time there is a Sam Dastyari type scandal or s44i, don’t crumble under the pressure. Yeah I know, standing down a Senator, resigning to sort out a potential legal issue is the ‘right thing to do’ but you won’t be rewarded for it, in fact, just gives ammo to both media and Government.
Do what the Government does - and media allows them to – just stand your ground.
Boldly assert “you don’t think it is a problem, next question”.
If they press on an uncomfortable issue, use the Watergate defence, “I won’t answer defamatory questions”.
When asked a stupid question like “What will Labor do about...”, throw it back, say something like “Well I don’t know Fran, we are not the Government, we have not even received legislation as yet, why don’t you ask the Government instead of wasting my time on hypotheticals”.
Sure short sharp answers like that will piss off heaps of journalists but what have you got to lose? They don’t like the ALP anyhow, will report any bullshit the Government flogs uncritically and even if they have a bit of a sook and don’t cover your press conferences for a while, they’ll come back, they need to churn out stories and they can’t do that with Government crap alone.
Seriously, I don’t like saying this. I really don’t. I would like to see integrity in politics but the fact is, media don’t reward it, it loses you elections and the rest of us pay for that, literally.
So I want to see a new ALP leader that will call out crap, not cower, not play the game they have so far, as to be quite frank it is a loser game.
You never know, you might even garner respect in the public for NOT using weasel words, pollie speak and actually having a backbone?
KAK was right
Sadly, Kerri-Anne Kennerley was right, “it is the end of the world as we know it”, though not because Shorten got elected but because of the way he didn’t.
I don’t like being right either.
My heart breaks for the family in Biloela who will most likely be deported now.
I am terrified as to how young adults will survive in a gig economy and to be frank, who is going to pay my old age pension in 20 years when the base of those who pay taxes is shrinking due to insecure, casual work, rising youth unemployment and ever-increasing poverty in this nation. Guess I will be joining them.
I have so much fear for minorities in this nation. Racism, Bigotry, neo-Nazis, Fascism and Greed has been pretty much normalised and mainstreamed, by both our Government and its' compliant media. FFS! Our media actually blandly reported the “Greens are more dangerous than Fraser Anning or Pauline Hanson” as ‘normal’, no shock, no outrage. Let me repeat that. Getting into bed with dead-set f*cking White supremacists, racists and gun nuts who emboldened the likes of the terrorist who massacred over 50 people in Christchurch was all cool and normal!
Not a disgrace. But normal.
Then again, they are all still telling us how John Howard supporting child sex abusers is no biggy too and he still deserves respect. So… guess the moral compass stopped working both in Government and media a while ago, just took those who have any compassion or empathy for fellow Australians a while to wake up to that.
All my fears for the future are just too soul crushing to articulate. I really did hope I was wrong, I really did hope that more Australians were reading the Guardian instead of News Corp & Fairfax/Nine, I really did hope the lies spread on Facebook did not have the massive reach we suspected. It was not to be.
Slow clap Australia. What. Have. You. Done ☹
May Dog! have mercy on your souls,
PS. Oh by the way, how’s that policy of appeasement been working out for you ABC? Been nice knowing you over the decades 😞
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