17 January 2016
by John Kelly

Will this election be any different?

As things stand today, when it comes down to policy initiatives, we know far more about Labor policies than we do the Coalition. But how much is understood?

This year, as the federal election draws near, you can be sure the mainstream media (MSM) will waste much of their time on the trivial and ignore most of what’s really important.

We can confidently anticipate that policy initiatives will be skimmed over in favour of personalities, preferred foods, how one dresses, which candidate better articulates his position on the great Aussie meat pie, and so on.

Things like the preferred prime minister, which looks at form and completely ignores substance, will be a weekly, if not a daily talking point for the breakfast shows, radio shock jocks and evening television satire.

Negative wedging will also be the order of the day for the journalists on the hustings, desperate for a scoop. Get one candidate to confirm or deny what might sound like some vague reference to a statement by a staffer that was misinterpreted by a journalist while he was asking about something else entirely different and before we know it, the campaign has been side-tracked from the real to the imagined.

Journalists will try to catch candidates out on their knowledge, or lack of it, on what the tax rate is for pensioners or what the current mortgage rate is, or how much a loaf of bread costs, or what’s the population of Tasmania.

This is exactly what the Coalition would want. They will do anything to deflect attention away from the real issues and you can be sure a compliant media will soak it all up and deliver those favourite fifteen second sound bites for the 6pm news, relentlessly.

Labor have made their position clear on education, climate change, the GST, superannuation concessions, family tax benefits, education, Sunday penalty rates, infrastructure, multi-national tax avoidance, marriage equality and a more humane approach to Asylum Seekers.

The Coalition’s policies are essentially those of the neo-liberals, deregulation of business; privatization of public activities and assets; elimination of, or cutbacks in, social welfare programs; reductions in aged pensions, pay-as-you-go health care, increases in the GST and reduction of taxes on businesses and the investing class.

The right wing think tank, the IPA (Institute of Public Affairs), has a policy list also, some of which Tony Abbott has already implemented. But they go much further than anything the Coalition is planning this side of the election.

What we can never be sure of, is how much of the IPA’s agenda is also on the Coalition agenda to be introduced after the election.

But the big issue will be the economy. How is it all going to be paid for? This is where both parties fall over. They are both hopeless, Labor less so, but with some preferential treatment from the MSM, it is likely the Coalition will sound the more convincing.

The Coalition have failed miserably with the economy, they know it, and their only defence is to say that it would be much worse under Labor. And they always punish the most vulnerable when things go wrong.

Labor should pay closer attention to what’s happening in the United States. With almost no support from mainstream media, Democrat underdog Bernie Sanders has ripped through all barriers and reached the heartland of America. His message is simple enough: to restore equality.

His success has come because he is not beholden to the establishment. He has no baggage. He has attacked the banks, the media and demonstrated to Americans that the word ‘socialism’ is not to be feared. They are listening because most now realise they have been the victims of capitalism, its greed, its destructive power, its enslavement.

Australians are victims too. Our living standards are in decline, inequality is increasing. Every act, so far, by the Coalition government has increased that inequality. They have demonstrated all too clearly that they govern for their masters, the corporate sector, the mining industry, the banks, the finance houses.

Labor needs to return to its roots: the people. Bernie Sanders has shown the way. The people are listening to him. They will listen to a caring, people-orientated leader who promises to return to them what has been taken away; to protect our world class health system, make education more affordable, make business pay its fair share of tax.

Labor’s advantage will be that debt and deficit will hardly be mentioned. The Coalition have demonstrated they can no more manage a national economy than manage their own internal affairs.

And they have increased the “debt” by 40% since coming to office. They can no more produce a surplus budget or project when they might. We are victims of their hyperbole.

This election, we should ignore the negative wedging, the sound bites, and the trivial distractions. We should demand an end to the hyperbole and ask for nothing more than to restore equality. Good luck with that.