Australian Labour's risky message

Posted July 1, 2016

News of tomorrow’s Australian General Election has been almost non-existent in the New Zealand media as so many other things have dominated the headlines this week.

One thing to stand out over the Tasman has been the campaign messages used by both parties. The Liberal/Nationals Coalition have been predictable with their focus on responsible economic management and the need for stability in the years ahead. This is the focus the New Zealand National Party always takes.

What is unique is the main message chosen by the Australian Labor Party. They seem to have placed all their eggs in the Trust basket. They say a re-elected Turnbull Government would dump Medicare and increase GST to 15 percent. This is despite no such policy appearing in the Coalition manifesto.

This is risky because it severely limits Labor’s opportunity to say what it stands for and why it would be a better Government than the current one.

It’s a negative campaign. That’s not to say it won’t work, but it’s risky. The party basically says Turnbull is lying. That’s the message, despite no evidence to back it up. On the positive side, it does create denial stories where the Coalition appear on the back foot.  

However, when swinging voters enter the polling booth, they will ask themselves two questions. They will ask, “Do I want a stable economy,” and “Do I think the coalition are lying to me.”

One thing that’s clearly missing here is what Labor offer. I would imagine that most people want a stable economy, because that’s in their best interests. Lots of Australians may think the Coalition is lying, but I would imagine most of those people are not swinging voters. They would be seasoned Labor supporters.

That’s why I think more swinging voters will agree with the Coalition message than the Labor alternative and these are the people who will determine the outcome.

But don’t forget that this is a First Past the Post Electoral system so the party with the most votes may not end up in power.

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