Please can we have policy rather than politics?

July 2 is going to be a long time coming if the first few days are any indication.

Today a main election news item on ABC radio was still whether Shorten would take us back to the polls rather than do a deal with the Greens.

Turnbull ran into trouble in Sydney’s west when all the press was interested in was who Fiona Scott, member for Lindsay, voted for in the Liberal Party leadership spill. Turnbull cancelled the rest of the day’s campaigning, as well he might if showing up is only going to feed the media’s obsession with irrelevance that is damaging to his campaign.

The media has some responsibility in making democracy work. I listened to the ABC all day and heard nothing about policy, only political colour and movement.

The AFR had a link on its front page to Laura Tingle’s article on page 4 saying “Labor is clearly creaming the government on substance. It is releasing policies and policy detail.”

She was reporting on Chris Bowen’s appearance at the National Press Club.

She says Labor:

    is clearly creaming the government on substance. Labor is releasing policies and policy detail. The government is on the backfoot on superannuation, and flailing about in slogans just ever so on its grand economic plan.

    Bowen is one of those Labor frontbenchers who speaks with the confidence and authority of someone who has recently done the actual job in government – he was after all, however, briefly, Labor’s last treasurer before the 2013 election defeat.

    Scott Morrison, by comparison, has had three jobs in three years and still talks like he has left his freshly-painted framework of policy principles out on the back verandah to dry off.

Bowen’s arguments and answers to questions were “all very no-nonsense, all from a clearly framed view of policy priorities.”

But stuff about a coalition with the Greens and asylum seekers will dredge up memories of the Rudd-Gillard years and are very much to Turnbull’s advantage.*

Katherine Murphy’s article indicates that Labor under Shorten has moved on. Turnbull and company would like us to think otherwise and the media are doing their work for them.

If you look at the bottom part of this article, it seems that the Greens running an open ticket rather than preferencing Labor is worth 3% of the Greens vote. That is unlikely to make a difference unless the race is very close. More important might be what the Liberals do with their preferences if they slip into third place. Seems their first priority may be to f— Labor over.

Conveniently the Liberals will not make a decision on preferencing until much closer to the election, allowing plenty of time for pointless speculation.

The Sex Party, with historian Ross Fitzgerald heading up their senate ticket, is running candidates in inner Sydney seats, and will preference Labor. They point out that they got nearly 7 per cent of the vote in a Malbourne by-election and seem to have quite sensible policies.

ABC Online does better than their other mediums and has outlined five policy battles:

  • Health and education funding
  • Housing policy
  • Company tax rate
  • Carbon pricing
  • Industrial relations

With over 50 days to go, perhaps the media could concentrate on these policy areas, though I do understand that it’s about attracting eyeballs rather than informing the public. In that game politics wins hands down every time.

* The point I meant to make here was that there is very little comfort in getting praise on page 4 in a paper largely read by LNP voters when Bowen’s Press Club speech was ignored elsewhere in favour of pointless politicking.

One thought on “Please can we have policy rather than politics?”

  1. There’s a pithy summary of day four at Buzzfeed.

    Labor candidates should read the Labor policy on asylum seekers. If they don’t agree they should either not be candidates or button up. It is different from the LNP policy.

    Malcolm met Melinda, a real voter:

    “The cost of schooling is going up, and up, and up, and we’re not getting any more money. Now you’re taking the family tax benefits away. It’s not just single mums you’re hurting. You’re hurting all the parents who are trying to get their kids to school,” said Melinda.

    She didn’t look very happy with his answer. Shortly after, he took refuge in a ‘Men’s only’ club.

    Michael Bradley who runs a small business, a law firm, reckons the rich and the poor is what the election is all about. Turnbull’s ‘plan’ is based on discredited ‘trickle-down economics’.

    Basically if you give more to the rich they get richer. If you give to the poor they’ll spend it and create demand. We are being sold a pup.

    That might be a bit simplistic. The article is well worth a read.

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