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Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

First blows in the campaign

The first blows in the election campaign fell early in the week. Things are going to move quickly of necessity, 6 weeks is not long to win hearts and minds especially when people already have a well formed impression of your party. Possibly this is why I was a little disappointed with the standard of the opening salvo.

The Liberal Party, rather predictably, weighed in to Labor for its’ Union connections, as it has been doing for the last month.

The move was so predictable in fact that Labor had a reply ready to go which was posted on their website within half an hour of the Liberal ad going live.

Perhaps it is a little early to expect innovation. The Labor – yes, that is the correct spelling here as wrong as it looks – political movement has been linked to Unions since its’ inception (in Australia 1891). That the Labor front bench might contain unionists seems a little obvious.

Whilst the ad is very polished and hammers its’ point home with the requisite force it has opened up with a negative, attacking the opposition not starting from a positive. The Liberals have plenty of positive at their disposal, unemployment is at the lowest rate for 33 years, the Australian economy is booming and the Government is in a position to offer big tax cuts and arguably still manage spending. Why not remind people of that? The polls say they've forgotten.

Strange too that it was left to the Treasurer and deputy PM to launch the advert. Costello is a credible financial manager and is most likely to succeed Howard as PM in the medium term. Immediately before the election was called the Liberal party suddenly had a tizzy fit about who would lead, and for a while it looked like Howard might not be fighting the election as leader. The party eventually decided to hold on to Howard but what does that say about the election prospects of ‘Captain Smirk’? If Costello is not seen as strong enough to win an election and Howard has said he will step down in the not too distant future who exactly are Liberal voters voting for? And, more importantly, why associate this problem so closely with the opening of your campaign?

Howard is notably and noticeably absent from Liberal advert as is mention of any Liberal politicians or policies. Rudd’s response was concise - perhaps overly so - and personal. In a country still so conservative in outlook that any and all newsreaders appear behind desks for even the briefest of bulletins Rudd was perched on the front of a desk with a TV remote in his hand talking to the camera with an easy non-threatening manner (not that I suspect he is capable of being very threatening). It builds on the media created notion of the election as Rudd vs. Howard and it shows Rudd as the voice of his party. The image of the much shorter John Howard trying to perch on a desk flickered briefly through my mind. Rather unkindly I wondered if his feet would touch the ground. I expect Rudd on his desk to become a motif of the campaign.

Round one to Labor.