Election campaigning is already underway for this year’s Federal election despite there being no formal launch as yet.
From here on in, we can expect a myriad of polls that will be keenly dissected by all sides of politics (and their advisers) while simultaneously fronting the media to insist that there’s only one poll that matters; election day.
In today’s world where appearance is everything, politicians are trained by PR experts before being allowed to front the media, and arrive at press conferences pre-prepared with carefully scripted “speaking points” and rehearsed responses to anticipated questions from the media.
Nothing is left to chance, from the carefully selected wardrobe through to make-up, setting, voice intonation and delivery.
The objective is to avoid any monumental stuff-up that can be broadcast live across the nation and then repeated ad nauseam by a compliant media desperate for a “gotcha moment” and corresponding headline.
Internal and external polling will be scrutinsed to determine whether the Government’s (or the Opposition’s) message is “on track” and “resonating” with the public. Results will be monitored, and if necessary, the aforementioned carefully orchestrated media performances will be modified to optimise what marketers like to call “cut-through.”
All of this is nothing new, however in an environment where an off the cuff remark by the Prime Minister’s partner can dominate headlines for a day, politicians and their spin doctors are desperate to ensure that “message consistency” is received and “front of mind” amongst voters.
While Labor may be slowly gaining ground, if an election were held today, the Coalition would still win and Tony Abbott would be Prime Minister.
It’s a prospect that is anathema to many, with some predicting that an Abbott-led Government would drag Australia back to the 1950’s with Howard-esque policies.
I’m a little less convinced. The current Gillard government abandoned its traditional “progressive” credentials some months ago with its abhorrent treatment of asylum seekers and persistence in pursuing a Howard-esque offshore processing model despite protests from the High Court.
Prime Minister Gillard remains resolutely opposed to marriage equality, effectively abusing her position of power and authority to perpetuate discrimination against an already marginalised minority. With an overwhelming majority of Australians in favour of marriage equality, Julia Gillard’s stance against equal rights is not just draconian it’s tyrannical. So much for democracy and “equality.”
Many who fear an Abbott-led government worry that his Catholicism may influence his decision-making and blur the lines of Church and State. The incumbent Prime Minister has demonstrated her propensity to pander to the concerns of conservative religious-right lobby groups meeting recently with Jim Wallace, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby and renowned homophobe. So what’s the difference? None that I can see.
Ms Gillard assured Mr Wallace that religious groups would remain at liberty to discriminate on the basis of “religious beliefs” and remain exempt of anti-discrimination legislation. Such assurances may appease the concerns of antediluvian conservatives however they do little to reassure “the rest of Australia” that Labor is a party concerned with ending discrimination and working towards a more equitable and inclusive society.
Is the prospect of an Abbott-led government really all that daunting when the current Labor government has abandoned its principles of human rights and championing the welfare of the marginalised and downtrodden?
From where I stand, it has abandoned that charter and left it to the Greens (much to their advantage).
No, the Labor Party has taken such a dramatic lurch to the right that it is difficult to differentiate it from the Coalition.
As once Labor Party supporter Tim Dunlop of Blogocracy lamented last year, many of us are now wondering “Who the fuck am I meant to vote for now?”