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Those Two Words We Dare Not Speaketh Will Not Appear in Our Ads

The carbon tax, carbon price, whatever you wish to call it is now just a matter of weeks from fruition, coming into effect on July 1 at a starting price of $23 per tonne. This policy backflip has been the cause of so much poll pain for the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and sees the ALP trailing the Tony Abbott led Coalition by double digits.

With every major policy, especially the ones that cause controversy and are much harder to sell (think WorkChoices as a recent example) generally comes a substantial advertising campaign trying to bring the public around to what the government of the day thinks are the benefits of such a package and how these benefits will outweigh the much argued about costs.

That is no different than with the so-called “Clean Energy Future” policy package which has been legislated by the Commonwealth parliament and set to take effect in roughly a month and a half.

The Gillard Government has announced a $36 million advertising budget to attempt to sell the package to a wary and largely switched off public that didn’t particularly enjoy the change of mind brought on by the minority government situation.

In just the next 6 weeks, the government will spend $14 million of that total budget allocation in a likely wasted attempt to ameliorate concerns over the package. This amounts to a total spend per day of appromimately $270,000 over that month-and-a-half long period.

The media blitz focuses on the compensation packaged related to the carbon pricing legislation which totals $4.2 billion and makes the total spend on advertising the Clean Energy Future package $70 million dollars.

This in itself is a very high amount for a Labor Government that took office, under former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, promising to reign in unnecessary government spending on advertising and public relations, particularly in the wake of the Howard Government spending an enormous $121 million dollars promoting the controversial WorkChoices legislation which played a significant part in the downfall of the Howard Government after over a decade in office.

Compared to the spending on WorkChoices advertising, $70 million dollars does seem small, but only in comparison. Advertising to attempt to change public perceptions on legislation seems a dubious idea and could be better spent on other policies.

What is most horrific about the current advertising package is not the cost, but the way that it attempts to sell the household assistance that will be received by millions in the very near future.

The latest advertisement, which has just started airing makes absolutely no mention of the fact that the assistance package is part of the response to the inevitable price rises which will be caused by the instigation of the carbon price. It is just referred to as the “household assistance package” and this gives the impression that the government are trying to sell the package to the unaware as effectively money for nothing.

There is no reference anywhere in the entire 30 seconds of any of the related ads, be it the ad targetted at seniors, singles or families of those two words that have become so dangerous for the government, ‘carbon’ and ‘tax’, that when put together, even as the “carbon price” iteration, spells disaster for the on the nose government.

So when you see those ads and think of the extra money you will be receiving from the government, remind yourself that you are not receiving money for nothing.

NOTE: Not referring to the Dire Straits song when I use the phrase “money for nothing”. Just to clear that up ­čÖé

Bob Katter and His Band of Merry Men and Women Should Be Thanked

Overnight many Queenslanders, less than two weeks out from polling day in the state election were introduced to the first major foray of Katter’s Australian Party into election advertising. This ad was not about the market monopoly of Coles and Woolworths, not about the struggles of farmers ┬átrying to live off the land or mining interests trumping those of the agriculture sector. No, it was a heinous anti-gay marriage advertisement which particularly targetted the Leader of the LNP, Campbell Newman and Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, whilst at the same time treating the gay and lesbian community of Queensland with absolute disdain.

The majority of Australian’s should be thanking Bob Katter and his party for this advertisement released overnight. We should be thanking Katter’s Australian Party not because it is a sensationally good advertising campaign against gay marriage, it is not, but because it has probably done more for the cause of marriage equality in its divisive content.

Now, it is of equal disgust to the advertisement itself that some of the response to the campaign has been to resort to low acts like death threats and insults against members of the party. Such behaviour is not on and deserves the same level of condemnation, if not more than the bigoted ad in question.

For some time now, polls on the issue of marriage equality have shown ┬áthat the majority of the population think, to steal a phrase from the political lexicon, that “it’s time” for a change. Politicians have generally lagged behind on the issue of marriage equality, even the so-called “small-c conservatives” on the progressive side of politics. There are elements of all parties these days, except it seems, from Katter’s Australian Party who think, not just that marriage equality is inevitable, but that it should happen. It is inevitable too that a majority of politicians will eventually vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

So why does the commercial broadcast for the first time yesterday mean that people in favour of marriage equality owe a debt of gratitude to Katter’s Australian Party? Okay, pick your jaws up off the floor. Those who support gay marriage should be thankful to Bob Katter and his colleagues because the response has highlighted just how much support exists in the community on the topic, again, not excusing the equally shameful response from some in the community.

Aside from helping the cause of marriage equality in its own unique way, the intensely conservative political ad also proves just how little of a contribution that Katter’s Australian Party think they can make, particularly in the “big smoke”. Over all other issues facing the people of Queensland it was decided, in what certainly cannot be classified as “infinite wisdom”, that above cost of living and other economic and social pressures, a small minority of people expressing a want to be married to someone they love is simply the greatest of threats facing Queenslanders in this election.

So a big thank you to you Mr Katter and your 76 candidates across Queensland for raising the prominence of the marriage equality campaign again, which is continuing to gain momentum, without your party’s helpful entry into the debate. Your party must also be thanked for highlighting exactly how few reasons there are to vote for your mob on March 24.

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