Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Election 2013: Package from Sophie

The printers for the Liberal Party are working overtime at the moment. A nice contract to get, surely. Who would have expected, in this digital age, that so much printed material would be used to try and convince us that a candidate should get our vote.

Not that it's from all the candidates in Indi. Or even a few. It's been one.
And that's just the covering letter.

I'm not sure if all electorates are having mail outs to the extent that Indi is from its current sitting member, Sophie Mirabella. Printing costs money and I'm pretty sure that Liberal Party Headquarters are concerned about how to stretch their funds to get maximum bang for their buck. Or to help out those candidates that they believe really need help.

There's a lot that can be said about the covering letter, but I want to concentrate on the other two documents that accompanied this letter.  First we have a wonderful 4 page, A4, full colour pamphlet that must have cost a bomb to design and print. The second is a How To Vote Card.

Let's first have a bit of a more detailed look at pamphlet.

Take a good look at the photo. You'll see this same photo on the third page and again on the back page of the pamphlet, with a caption stating that they are members of Tony Abbott's Coalition team. We have, from left to right, Malcolm Turnbull, Andrew Robb, Joe Hockey, the main man himself, Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop, and Eric Abetz (I think).

Who's missing?

Where's Sophie in this picture? Being Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science, wouldn't it have been a good idea to include her in this picture, in a pamphlet designed to promote the local candidate? How did Malcolm get his mug in this photo, being only Shadow Minister for Telecommunications and Broadband (a tautology?). The implication here is that Sophie is a lightweight within the Shadow Ministry. This, from her own party. A ringing endorsement.

Let's move on.

Six key priorities. A colourful summary of what is to be explained on pages two and three of the pamphlet. A waste of half a page. It's not a book we're reading, it's a 4 page pamphlet. I'm sorry but this is either here to pad out the pamphlet (in other words, not much to say) or it's just poor design work.

So what are the six key priorities? Let's turn the page.

1. A Stronger Five Pillar Economy
It's interesting that the definition of the Five Pillar Economy changes ever so slightly between the first and second pages.

Page 1                                                                    Page 2
Mining                                                                    Mining Exports
Agricultural                                                             Agricultural
Services                                                                 Advanced Services
Education                                                               Education and Research
Manufacturing                                                         Manufacturing Innovation

Now I am not sure what Advanced Services really means, so I checked the Liberal's 52 page mega-pamphlet. They're not sure either. It looks as though it might be IT, or financial services. Definitely not government services, given the public service job cuts already forshadowed by Joe Hockey.

And Manufacturing Innovation can be read two different ways, with two very different meanings. Think about it.

Now what about building and infrastructure development? Tourism and hospitality? Health?  I'm pretty sure that these sectors employ a significant part of the working population, right around the country. Clearly not all that important to the Liberal party, however. Not in the context of their five pillars.

What hasn't been made clear is how a Liberal Government will "deliver more jobs" in these 5 pillars. Especially as they seek to both lower taxes and reduce the budget deficit. And how exactly can productivity be boosted when a commitment has been provided to leave employment conditions untouched? Their mega-pamphlet doesn't shed much further light on this.

2. We Will Deliver Stronger Borders
I cannot believe that either party puts this in their top dozen priorities. This pamphlet, however, does not properly describe the disgusting depths that the Liberal party has gone with this "issue" as it appears to have been printed prior to their policy announcement late last week. This topic causes me to see red like no other, however I will spare you, the reader, from me ranting on and on for paragraphs about this shit policy by the Liberal party, and instead direct you to a pretty well thought out piece by Greg Jericho on his blog, Grog's Gamut.

One day we as a country will see how immature and unnecessarily hostile these policy announcements (from both major parties) have been on refugees.

3. End the Waste and Debt
Reading through this pamphlet there is absolutely no information provided as to how the Liberal Party plan to acheive the ending of waste and debt. Ending waste can be subjective, but will have to mostly be cutting government expenditure of some sort.

Ending debt is rather more of a problem. I have a feeling that the Liberal's will be look around for stuff to sell in order to pay off debt. What's left to sell that the Howard and Keating Governments hadn't already sold? Medibank Private is probably an easy sale to start off with.  The extent to which these sales occur, potentially of infrastructure assets, as well as some Australian icons (the ABC and SBS have been mooted as being up for sale, though surely not seriously) will depend very much on the make up of the Senate. A Senate that has a majority of non-LNP members will make it tougher for many sales to occur.

So then how will that Debt end? It won't. This is a fanciful priority of the Liberal party, not backed up by any policy, and not backed up by economists, Treasury, business groups or anyone else for that matter.

4. Carbon Tax Gone
OK, so this will save families and businesses. How does this help the budget, and the debt situation? This actually is starting to feel like a bit of a bribe.

5. A 'Fair Go' for Regional and Rural Australia.
Regional and Rural Australia (or RRA) is a pretty big place, with a relatively small population. And being a member of RRA, I am keen to see what this 'Fair Go' actually means. According to the pamphlet:
  • Help the Agricultural Sector grow. - A reiteration of the first priority
  • Abolish the carbon tax - A reiteration of the fourth priority
  • Address Mobile Black Spots - money spent helping the telcos out
  • Building Dams - Hmmmmm. Really? Next.
  • Live Export trade certainty - I cannot speak with any authority on this. I am sure this is important for communites in Northern Australia.
  • Improve mental health service accessability for RRA - This policy I heartily agree with. No issue with this one at all.
All in all though, this priority is just a little bit light on in detail, and once you take out the reiterations of the other priorities, consists entirely of mobile phones, dams, shipping cattle and sheep and then mental health. Surely there are other areas that 'RRA' can have a fair go in. Health, Education, Business Services, Arts and Culture. All these areas are just as important to RRA. Otherwise it feels as though RRA is being dealt with as some sort of caricature of a big farming community with mental health issues, and dodgy phones (as can be seen by the photo they chose for this priority).

6. Two Million Jobs Will Be Created
Over what period? How? Using what resources?

This priority has less detail than the other five.

I look at the six priorities and can only find improved mental health services in RRA as the only tangible benefit that I reckon they can actually deliver on, without wrecking the economy.

We turn now to the back page.

There she is. Our Liberal party candidate Sophie Mirabella.

Hang on. There's been a Real Change in the 6 priorities. Stronger borders has become Stop the Boats. Also, there was nothing in the first three pages about better roads. How did that get into the final summary? I just checked it again. The first mention of roads is on the back page. I love the consistency, people.

Interestingly the pamphlet finishes with a cry for help - "Join me. I need your support." Probably due to the lack of support shown earlier by the party for this local member.

But that's not all. We have a How To Vote Card as well:

Wow, the Liberal Party really love that photo of their leadership team, don't they. Four times you see their eager faces on these two documents. And we get to see Sophie again.

The interesting part of this, of course, is how the preferences have been dealt with. Here they are in full detail:

  1. Sophie Mirabella (Liberal) - obviously
  2. Rick Leeworthy (Family First)
  3. Phil Rourke (Katter Australian)
  4. Robert Murphy (Palmer United)
  5. Jennifer Podesta (Independent)
  6. Bob Dudley (Rise Up Australia)
  7. Cathy McGowan (Independent)
  8. Helma Aschenbrenner (Sex)
  9. William Hayes (Bullet Train for Australia)
  10. Robyn Walsh (Labor) 
  11. Jenny O'Connor (Greens)
Now, there are probably no surprises about the top 4, being recognised as conservative parties. Jennifer Podesta is interesting at number 5, as one would hardly describe her as conservative. I personally find it disappointing that Bob Dudley from Rise Up Australia comes in anywhere other than last, especially as the party's founder had declared Black Saturday to be God's action because Victoria allows abortions.

It is also interesting that both the Sex Party and Bullet Train for Australia Party get higher preferences than Labor, with Greens dead last. Not that these will matter, as it is starting to be clear that Sophie's greatest challenge will come from the Independent, Cathy McGowan. One would expect that preferences flowing from Labor and Greens to Cathy (as they both will) to be more important than where Sophie's preferences go.

I am still waiting on printed material from any of the other candidates, though I expect that reduced resources, especiallu for the Independents, will mean that either no printed material, or if there is, to arrive in the last week of the campaign. In the mean time it appears as though Facebook and Twitter are the preferred means of reaching out to the electorate for the other candidates.

1 comment:

Peter Deane said...

Thanks for this post, am using your work this week given Mirabella's rise in prominence for all the wrong reasons.