Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Name that issue!

Posted by Possum Comitatus on September 12, 2007

Since we’ve been talking ‘issues’ lately, what are you folks out there picking up as the current talking point memos of both the major parties?

I can see a few with the Coalition:

Heading in the right direction.

We have a strong and experienced team

The full employment economy.

Labor do things because the PR company Hawker Britton tell them too (started yesterday I think)

The ALP have the usual:

Clever politician

Howards vision of the future goes as far as the next election.

But they seem to have been a bit slack in generating new clichés lately.

I’d be interested if anyone could add to the list as they hear them, it’ll help get a handle on any campaign strategy change by both parties. The first hint of a strategy change comes simply through the message.

Different messages are aimed at different demographics, what I might not hear could well ring like a cowbell with others, so it will be interesting to see how people pick the different messages up.


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44 Responses to “Name that issue!”

  1. bungs said

    The most obvious missing from the Coalition’s list of talking points is:
    Union bosses
    Not that I personally think it will do much, but there you, every second phrase seems to be union bosses…

  2. Greensborough Growler said

    Howard is 68 years young.
    It’s not the size of the interest rate, but the size of the mortgage.
    Don’t change horses while your sitting on a barb wire fence looking over the edge of oblivion.

  3. Possum Comitatus said


  4. Enemy Combatant said

    If the economy’s humming, why arn’t we, Mr. Howard?

  5. bungs: don’t forget state governments – and mentioning that Rudd used to work for one of them.

    I’m expecting them to go negative, and hard. I’m not sure how much it will help – they’ve tried again and again with the smears this year, and each time they’ve gone down in the polls. But there’s really nothing left for them other than that.

  6. Becstar said

    “The energetic John Howard – the mans got so much energy for the future!”

    Anyone see Alexander Downer on 7:30 Report last night? talk about coaching, he said it nearly 1/2 doz times!

  7. Guido said

    The Liberals are starting to target the ‘team behind Rudd’. As it seems that smear campaigns on Rudd haven’t worked they are now concentrating on the shadow ministers.

    This is evident from Tony Abbot’s column in the Sydney Morning Herald

    A Labor government wouldn’t just mean Kevin Rudd as prime minister. It would also mean Julia Gillard as deputy prime minister, Wayne Swan as treasurer, Robert McClelland as foreign minister, Nicola Roxon as health minister, Stephen Smith as education minister and Joel Fitzgibbon as defence minister. This is the least experienced, least known and least diverse leadership team ever to offer itself to the Australian people……..

    So, apart from former diplomat and political staffer Rudd, who could soon be running Australia Inc? Gillard was a union lawyer with a plaintiff law firm. The only organisation she’s ever run was Socialist Forum, a mid-’80s vehicle for former communists to transfer into the Labor Party. Swan ran the Queensland branch of the party in its unreformed pre-Shepherdson inquiry condition. McClelland is a decent bloke and competent shadow minister but was a union lawyer before entering parliament. Roxon was another union lawyer, Smith another state party secretary (from the Brian Burke era) and Fitzgibbon another political staffer.

    It would be interesting to compare the experience of the current Labor frontbench to that of Howard’s when it won government.

    They may have been all experienced people. I don’t know.

  8. djm said

    The one that came though in the 7:30 report interview with Downer the other night was Howard having “energy for the future”. He repeated this several times and I guess it is being planted to try to neutralise something specific and negative that has come through in private polling.

  9. chinda63 said

    I think “another 3 years of Howard” should be enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine…

  10. chinda63 said

    Oh, and I’ve noticed another interesting coincidence, BTW.

    The Whitlam Institute is selling “It’s Time” t-shirts. The colours are white writing on a black t-shirt, black writing on a white t-shirt, or black writing on an orange t-shirt.

    I say coincidence, because the ALP corflutes I have seen so far have been orange, black and white. A revival of the old campaign, maybe?

    It’s time…again?

  11. Mr Denmore said

    For Labor:

    Making the Economy Work for People; not People for the Economy (picks up on the feeling that if things are so good; why am I so stressed?)

    Giving You a Choice Again (a choice to embrace the future; contrasts with the economic determinism of the coalition)

    Reinvesting in our Future (skills, infrastructure, education etc;)

    Rediscovering the Australian spirit (as opposed to the obsequious client state we have become under Howard)

    Rudd needs to plug away on the positive. Howard has ruled by exploiting fear and division. Rudd is returning a sense of hope to politics, giving people a sense again that they have choices and that the economy is not some abstract thing managed by the government, but something that is a result of PEOPLE’s own effort. Australia has done well because we are a productive, resourceful nation, he needs to say. But Howard has wasted an opportunity. And Labor is the one to use these good times to secure the future for our kids.

    Change the Climate (plays on the green theme; and suggests a return to openness)

  12. Ned said

    Labor: “Just the same. But nicer.”

    Liberal: “Low Tax. Small Government. Personal Freedom. Fuck that.”

  13. The Doctor said

    I think the polls may stretch out to 65/35 for a short time – if the US polling is any guide ~30% seems to be the welded on limit for the conservative side of politics! After the implementation of WorkChoices without any mandate, I really cannot see any one trusting what Howard or any of the Liberals say on anything. In addition, there is always Nick Minchin’s threat of WC MkII!!
    To anyone who happens to think that ‘experience’ is a valid argument for re-election of the Coalition, I suggest that get themselves a one-way ticket to Zimbabwe, North Korea or Burma where they have very experienced governments!

  14. pre-dawn leftist said

    John Howards vision for Australia:

    “Its all about me!”

  15. flute said

    “love me or loathe me, at least people/you know what I stand for”

  16. Matt said

    Julia Gillard on Lateline made it pretty clear that the ALP will be pushing the ‘Vision for the future’ line pretty solidly. Coupled with that is the ‘Commitment to the future’ which keeps with the positive message, but is clearly meant to point out this is exactly what Howard doesn’t have.

  17. ifonly said

    3 years ago Labor thought Rudd was worse than Latham…what was true then is true now.

    The Chaser “Buying a stairway to Kevin” is probably the best identifyer of chinks in the armor.

    Howard is a fighter….you can never count him out (used if polls improve)

    I’ve noticed mention of tax policy several times.

    The Labor party will highlight support of education, this cuts oth ways and can wedge private school parents

  18. smokey said

    “Lame Duck PM”, well that was John’s on Lateline. I think it’s quite catchy.

  19. king corio said

    In tonight’s 7.30 Report interview Howard also began laying out the ‘team’ mantra & making the direct comparison with Labor’s proposed frontbench – more of the CT climate setting:

    “JOHN HOWARD: They’ll be voting for a team, and I think that’s good. I think actually this election if it’s a contest between teams as well as a contest between Howard and Rudd is a good thing. So they’ll be voting for Howard, Costello, Downer, Turnbull, Brough, so the list goes on versus Rudd, Gillard, Peter Garrett, Wayne Swan as treasurer instead of Peter Costello, really.”

    Next CT item to come will be the matter of trust – ‘who do you trust to look after the national interest?’ I think Michelle Grattan fleshed out the twin dimensions of trust a few weeks back?

  20. otiose said

    ifonly is both an aspirational (shit that’s an ugly and meaningless word) dipstick and an uneducated twit. I was molested at qld’s churchie (church of englands boys school) in the early 60’s. Both men have since been convicted. DON’T YOU DARE damn me for supporting publicly funded schools and HATING the PRIVATE SCHOOL”S “bastions of privelige”

  21. Charles said

    Labor: We are a safe alternative. Everything will revolve around that theme. There will be no wedges out of Labor, they want the maximum vote, a wedge puts one group against you. Governments lose elections someone in Labor has worked that out. Policy is almost irrelevant just provides talking points (the press hasn’t worked that out, or perhaps they have they want the talking points).

    The daggers:

    2)Work choices
    3)Fresh of the press, Liberal are now nothing but Howard.

    Liberals: Can’t trust that bunch off union bosses, Labor have no policy. They don’t seem to have worked out Government loses elections.

    The plastic sticks:

    1)We payed off the government debt. Counter, increased taxes, they sold off the farm, we may get educated on unfunded liabilities but I doubt it, message too complicated. They sold the farm and increased taxes is simpler.

    2)It’s only Rudd, union bosses behind every Rock. On this issue I think there will be silence from Labor. But they could counter; if we form government we will have new members and the depth of the parlimentary team will increase.

    The Liberals have played their government advertising card, their wedge cards, their smear Rudd card ( twice) and the APEC card (or was it OPEC). The press yarned at their smear Gillard card. They may have an ace up their sleeve, there is nothing left in their hand.

  22. Enemy Combatant said

    Agreed, otiose. The Mad Monk should insist that Aspirational Fatigue Syndrome be recognised in the newly re-badged Smirk-Rodent Party’s Health initiatives in the upcoming campaign.

  23. steve said

    Possum, its not a matter of naming the issue but rather what is not being said.

    More than twice now JWH has been given the offer of telling about his future plans and his answer is there is not enough time in this interview. He is becoming unable to speak – he knows that what he needs to say will not help his case.

    Costello (now the heir apparent) comes out with – Low Taxes, Full Employment and Water as his main trgets. He is cleary banishing Captain Smirk and is taking public speaking lessons from Ruddock (if this is vaudeville, send in the clowns).

    The problem the LIBS have is that the key issues they need to push have been taken by the ALP and they more they talk of them the further they push up support for the ALP.

  24. Possum Comitatus said

    Thanks folks.

    John Howard as the energizer bunny is a bit weird.Trying to turn the real image of a 68 year old bloke into the quintessential vision of a spritely young whippersnapper has got to be an exercise in pushing shit uphill.I think one of the problems with the Libs over the last few years at all levels of government have been their inability to grasp reality and actually work with it as far as their own image and issue management goes.That sort of denial and attempted nuetralisation of the obvious must start to feedback into the whole honestly/trust matrix after a while.

    If people see that you’re trying to bullshit them over the simple obvious things, it just cant be good for getting them to trust you over the more complicated important things like, say, Workchoices….. surely?

    Flute, that old ““love me or loathe me, at least people/you know what I stand for” line is a trusty old favourite.It’s like one of those “in case of emergency – break glass” type lines.Didnt they try that on Beazley during the “no ticker” attack, and again on Latham?

    Another one with the ALP – everything is framed in that whole “fairness for working families” schtick


    The verbal gymnastics undertaken by some of the Labor people to fit that cliche into a doorstop is quite impressive!

  25. Possum Comitatus said

    Steve, I agree and it’s certainly what the CT stuff suggests.The Coalition have become caught in a self-inflicted pincer movement.They neglected a lot of issues for so long that it was relatively easy for Rudd to grab them without actually doing a great deal.

    But in order to regain a decent chunk of the vote, the Coalition now find themselves needing the voters that pay attention to those issues they neglected for so long, but every time the Libs try to raid an issue to get those voters back, it just pushes the issue and its voters further into the ALP hold.Of all the real crappy political loops you could get yourself into – that one would have to be the most difficult to get out of.

    On something else, the ‘clever politician’ tag is itself quite clever.It’s just a simple negative connotation that allows every voter to give it the negative meaning they perceive it represents.For some it will play out as Howard being dishonest (because that’s what they see him as), for others it will mean Howard is trying to manipulate them (because that’s what they see him doing regularly).It’s a cracker of a tag that exploits every negative thing that people think about Howard.

  26. anthony said


    THE Coalition has begun stealing Labor’s pitch for Kevin Rudd: billing Peter Costello as a safe, younger version of John Howard.

    Ministers hit the airwaves this morning talking up the virtues of John Howard’s announcement that he would retire late in his next term and hand over to the Treasurer.

    The Liberal Party website changed overnight, with a lead picture featuring both John Howard and Peter Costello on the front page.

  27. thedjselectionometer said

    As previously identified – John Howard is trying to show Peter Costello as a young, invigorated version of himself. Peter Costello is, according to Howard, a safe pair of hands, someone that the Australian public can trust.

    The Australian public cannot escape the fact, however, that Howard does not trust Costello enough to step aside, and give him a shot.

    The Prime Minister cannot simultaeneously claim that he, John Howard, deserves to be PM, but at the same time campaign for Peter Costello to be PM. It is not possible, or communicable, to the Australian public.

    We can all say that John Howard should have walked, or been pushed, or been crash tackled by The Chaser, but the reality is now clear – John has to contest the election or go by the end of this week. And if John decides to stay, he must stop campaigning for Peter Costello, but rather develop policies that he still wants to implement. The *I have unfinished business* line worked for Pete in Queensland, and can work on a federal level.

    Or must we consider the fact that John *just doesn’t have it?*

    The DJ – thedjselectionometer.wordpress.com

  28. Possum Comitatus said

    I dont get the whole “Now Peters also a PM, everythings gonna rock” delusion by the government.

    The polls are dismal for a reason, all the Coalition is essentially doing from the punters point of view is saying “Here, have the same old shit sandwich… but look, it’s got sprinkles!”

    Yeah – Good luck with that. 🙄

    The “unfinished business” line will be interesting.Will the punters think unfinished business is more WorkChoices Mk 2 or more something else?

    It worked for Beattie – but Beattie did have the benefit of having an opposition that could fit in a phone box! 🙂

  29. steve said

    Seems the ALP has decided ‘confusion’ is the message of the day.


  30. thedjselectionometer said

    Good point possum, and the Qld Coalition had self destructive leaders at the time too. The Labor party appears far more professional than the Qld Opposition. However, with the polls swinging, John might just pull the argument “I’ve held the job for so long, I’ve done good by you for so long, just let me finish what I started” and point to things like the Aboriginal Intervention, Anti Terror etc.

    The DJ – thedjselectionometer.wordpress.com

  31. canberra boy said

    That is a devastating ad, Steve. Hope they can afford to put it on TV for a few days.

  32. Ryan said

    The coalition’s options are limited by the state of opinion polls, but a couple of themes I’ve noticed:
    – Rudd as a follower not a leader. A ‘me-tooer’ according to Abbott. A slave to the unions according to others.
    – Rudd as a thinker not a doer. Vaile said something about government being swept up in a flurry of paperwork. He asks for audits and things everywhere and isn’t into getting the job done.

  33. Darryl Rosin said

    There’s been a Liberal billboard nearby for about a month with a slogan I’ve not seen elsewhere:

    “Doing what’s right for Australia”

  34. KC said

    Trust on policies will be a big issue.

    What Howard takes into the election is not what comes out after he is re-elected.

    The core promises idea Howard spun after 1996, when he justified not following through on election policies by saying “That was not a core promise”.

    After the 1998 election it was “Those policy promises were made during the life of the previous parliament, this is now a new parliament so those promises do not apply”

    Work Choices which was not presented as a policy and was rammed through parliament in great haste without consultation or research on its affects.

    And of course Janette, “John is not into making firm committments”

    Howard will inevitably come up with anew one if he is re-elected, any guesses as to what it would be?

  35. otiose said

    thedjselectionometer – the aboriginal intervention is part of the federal govts DESPERATE attempt to be seen to be doing something (ANYTHING) about the atrocious conditions under which the traditional occupiers of this country exist. ljh is a racist. his statements on asian immigration are public knowledge and provable. his immigration policy is unquestionably racist (valid refugees on Nauru are refugees but NO VISA) – when i went on my initial o/s trip i was accepted and in some cases given special treatment by border guards. now if u declare ur aussie in many countries u r in danger of being shot – ALL thanks to the bastard that is ljh

  36. codger said

    Team Howard Costello, THC, Sniff…ah piggies with wingies…

  37. zoom said

    KC – if Howard wins, he won’t go – the line will be that Howard won an unwinnable election, is a political genius, is the only person who can lead the Coalition into victory in the future (no matter what the polls say at present)…
    Howard has already made it clear that he will only go reluctantly. Janette has said that he will tell people anything if it means he stays in power.
    If noone has the guts to make him go now, how will anyone be able to do it if he wins the next election against all odds?

  38. paradiseenough said

    Team rodent smirk is not going down well so far. See Micky G’s piece today: http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/team-howard-not/2007/09/13/1189276896477.html She makes the entirely reasonable point that howard and costello’s mutual hatred is so well known – and shines forth so brightly every day – that no uncrazed elector could believe the “team thing” for a second. As possum said above “That sort of denial and attempted nuetralisation of the obvious must start to feedback into the whole honesty/trust matrix after a while.” Quite. The worst thing (for them)is that the’ve pretty much locked themselves into this because pete’s not going to back off now. He’ll be lurching out from behind every tree to spout about his credentials!

  39. disenfranchised Gippslander said

    Quite irrelevant to the thread, but glad to see another Rubaiyat fan in “paradiseenough”. Be careful the the AFP don’t haul you for questioning about middle east links.. DON’T lend your mobile to your mother in law!
    Anyhow paradiseenough , we’ll be out of the wilderness soon.

  40. Jeremy said

    He who fights extremism with extremism dies by extremism – or something like that anyway. Howards in trouble and I think the concept of the “issue” itself has become largely impotent at the hand of brand Howard politicking. Please forgive me for indulging in a quick thought experiment. We’ve all learnt of the scary lengths extremists will go to in order to further their cause. But how about what a clever extrememist might not do. The only thing that would convincingly reinstate the Howard oligarcy at this stage is some help from Howard’s extremist foes in Indonesia. I wonder if AFP and ASIO are currently receiveing the same high level of homeland support in that region given the government is no doubt so ‘distracted’ with domestics. OK, I’m a self-confessed conspiracy theorist, but then I’ve learnt to more than not trust Howard.

  41. paradiseenough said

    Thanks, disenfranchised Gippslander. You might be interested in my blog http://www.southgippsland.info
    (Only) slightly more relevant to this thread: Did anyone notice on the 7.30 report last night that the cameraperson doing Rudd’s soundbite (at a school) had neatly lined him up with some brightly coloured copies of Harry Potter novels. Nice work. This lot has form (apart from hosting Clark & Dawes). A while ago they had a seriously subversive subeditor – lots of visual gags and choice juxtaposition of cuts. It could lighten up what may be a very downbeat campaign.

  42. dave said

    Not really an issue, but yesterday heard dog costello use the old wornout “We have a plan” for the first time in this election season.

    This always gets trotted out, generally by the conservatives – so I guess some must believe it.

    Guess we can expect to hear it a lot more

  43. canberra boy said

    The SMH has published a very interesting piece this morning on focus group work done by Nielsen in the marginal seats of Paramatta &Lindsay (NSW) and Chisholm & Deakin (Vic). (Curiously, they and The Age are erroneously calling it polling – perhaps because they think readers won’t understand what ‘focus group’ means?)

    When you read the article, you’ll see exactly where the Govt is coming from with the dual leadership strategy. You get to keep Howard with his experience and the fact you can trust him to handle a crisis. But you also get the younger person with some renewal and possibly fresh ideas.

    And it’s absolutley no accident that the front page of this morning’s Weekend Oz has a puff piece on Costello spending the weekend doing the list of chores he’s been given by Tanya – first of all pruning the lemon tree. It’s an attempt to show that he’s an ordinary suburban husband: again, something which Howard is not and Rudd can understand, according to the focus groups.

    For me the most important reminder the SMH article gives is how swinging voters views are formed on the basis of impressions and feelings with very little substance when probed. They don’t have a detailed knowledge of or interest in policies. Their view that Howard has passed his use-by date and it’s time for a change translates into a soft support for Rudd. In other circumstances I would say that this gives the Government some hope for clawing back support (Nielsen says up to 10% in these seats, IIRC) with their two-for-one strategy. But that assumes a static Opposition. The Rudd Labor team is far from that, and has shown they can meet every challenge thrown out by the Libs so far this year. Watch for their reaction.

    Oh, BTW, interesting The Age has chosen not to run the full story but merely a short news item – at least on their website. Can Victorians confirm it’s not in the paper? Perhaps being held for Sunday.

  44. Angas said

    Rudd touches up the Libs:
    With Mr Howard, I think what you have is a leader who has lost touch,” he said.

    “But in Mr Costello, you have someone who’s never been in touch.”
    GG 15 Sept.

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