There will be plenty of post-mortems of the stunning loss of the election by the Labor Party. We listened to the veneer of an old-style, old-fashioned media campaign. There was the photo grab and sound bite for the evening news bulletins, the full-page advertising in newspapers, the anointing editorials of the major newspapers telling us how to vote. Peoples’ view of who was going to win was fashioned by these sounds and images, and the opinion polls summarized these views. But they were wrong.
Donald Trump demonstrated, to the frustrations of the media conglomerates, that they were no longer needed and, if anything, their news was fake. Trump used modern social media to talk directly to the voters. He has 60m followers on twitter. Why would he need to pander and craft a message for the mainstream media? The Royal Family has done the same. They control their media messaging via social media. Events are announced on twitter first. Mainstream media is an afterthought.
Scott Morrison was the man out front, with his ministers missing in action and not to be seen. What they were doing were conducting grass-root campaigns at the local level addressing local issues. Scare campaigns were used – death taxes anyone? Trump demonstrated that you can appeal to an individual’s fear, whilst not having to be held accountable for what was said.
Labor was pushing big ideas across the board from a position of opposition. Unfortunately, at a local level, there were losers who were feeling disenfranchised and who didn’t accept the greater good argument.
You can’t argue jobs in Queensland – more mines and argue a progressive climate policy in Victoria. Aspirational Australians were promised that if you saved for retirement you can avoid being on a Government pension, and you can comfortably retire. But the franking credit policy did not disadvantage the Union Industry funds or the big private sector funds – they targeted the $600 Billion DIY mum and dad superannuation funds.
You could get the benefit of franking credits if you shifted to one of the big funds. Did they really want the aged 65 plus cohort to go and close their DIY funds and pay for advice to shift the assets? And the maximum deductable fee was $3,000 for this comprehensive advice. Franking credits, save for super, negative gearing restrictions, halving of capital gains tax discount, the Labor Party managed to damage most of the wealth creation strategies of most Australians. Scare campaigns like the death tax thrive in this environment.
Liberals learnt the lesson of “Medi Scare”, Labor didn’t and will probably pay the price for some years. Australia does need tax reform and there will be losers. It will probably best to be in power first and be confident you can communicate and articulate at a grass roots level. Also, don’t rely on main stream media.