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Rally for Climate Action

3 Apr

Yesterday, a number of my friends and I went to the Rally for Climate Action at Belmore Park. It was a great event with some good speakers, in-particular Simon Sheikh from Get-Up.

I was however very disappointed there were no ALP representatives there. This is, after all, their policy that they are trying to sell and they should have representatives ready to speak to a crowd of supporters. It may be because they are scared of being labelled hypocrites by the Coalition if there are extreme leftists holding up anti-Abbott placards. Or it could be because the ALP are the party of Government, and in the eyes of some who would have been in attendance, they have made some questionable decisions regarding asylum seekers, banking, etc. etc. so there is always the prospect of anti-Government feeling, which would then become the story.

But within that audience, there was a good deal of respect for the Government for launching a pragmatic environmental policy that has led to negativity and even attacks from some on the right-wing. Essentially, the left is displaying our martyr worship again.

Anyway, below is an incredibly short video, just to show the size of the crowd.

I had lunch here a week and a half ago and now it is underwater #qldflood

12 Jan

 

Communications is the key to political success

10 Jan

I’ve just finished All that’s left – What Labor should stand for, which is a reasonably interesting read looking at the future of the Australian (and in the process global) Labour momevements. It a philasophical look of where we on the left are, where we’ve come from, and where we have to go to ensure social justive and the future of social democracy. There was some interesting articles in there,  but there is a gaping chasm that we on the left we seem never to fill and it is one of my greatest irks.

Where is the section about selling ideas to the public? There is plenty about how the labour movement needs to increase social engagement and that government should be out to help the people, but there is nothing so far as to how to sell it to the public. There is a section on getting trust back into politics, but that isn’t quite the same.

Kevin Rudd made a number of mistakes, some big, some small, but I still believe his biggest one and the err that ultimatly led to his downfall, was the cutting of department communications budgets. When I was looking for a job when I got back to Australia, a public affairs recruitment agent told me that when Rudd got into power departmental communications and marketing positions dried up. This got me thinking, how much did this have to do with his downfall and I figure a lot.

Put it this way. This was a time where a new Government with a relativly progressive agenda wanted to sell in grand new ideas and new ways of doing things. But there was no one to sell it. Communications budgets were cut, so the advertising was left to the Prime Ministers’ office and the cabinet members’ press officers and they couldn’t do it. Not because they weren’t talented enough, but there wasn’t enough time in the day to package it and get it out there. That made it look like they couldn’t engage with the public.

You could also probably guarantee that the communications teams weren’t included in concept planning from day one either. Its important for a comms plan to be included in planning right from day one, so pit falls and wins can be planned out right from the begining.

The CPRS and the Mining Super Profits Tax are two examples where poor comms planning completely blew up in the ALP’s faces. In the case of the CPRS, the Government was trumped by the Opposition having a) not being able to sell the concept to the public b)  not being able to forsee the right wing views that took over in the Opposition and c) Abbott had a catchier line with “a great big new tax”, which is devilishly brilliant. The great big new tax is also an example of  sometimes the left needs to get down and fight with conservatives  in the dirt and throw some mud. That’s where they fight and to match them, we have to do. One person on the the left who did do this succesfully was Alastair Campbell (you know I had to chuck that in somewhere).

But still, despite all of this, the book doesn’t even list communications as an important issue. Reengaging with the community and the public is vital. Sometimes we talk to the public, not talk with and we wonder why they don’t hear us.

Abbott is making a mistake by going for Gillard

1 Apr

Australian Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has gone on the attack by going after Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard after the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a mini-reshuffle to his Ministry.

Australian Deputy PM Julia Gillard

Abbott has claimed that Gillard is overworked and overstretched and should ha ve some of her many responsibilities taken off her. Gillard’s title is Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Education, Employment & Workplace Relations, Social Inclusion but I have no doubt the Deputy Prime Minister is one of the few people  who could actually manage such a large portfolio.

This is the latest in a long-runnning war between Gillard and Abbott, but I think Abbott’s attacks are misplaced. For starters, he is shooting down, which is always a mistake for a Leader. We all remember the criticism of Obama when the Democrats went after Sarah Palin during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Abbott should be going for Rudd and Rudd alone and letting the rest of his team go for Gillard.

They have also attacked Gillard before on a personal level and it back-fired badly. Earlier in the year, Gillard questioned Coalition

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

statements about parenting, when Senator Brandis stated Gillard couldn’t understand the way parents think” about virginity because she doesn’t have kids.”

While that didn’t hurt Abbott too much as he was still well into his honeymoon, there was a fair outcry as to the remarks.

Finally, the Australian people like Gillard. In an Essential Report poll from the 22nd of March, Gillard beat Abbott 47-37 as preferred Prime Minister. The people also don’t like Abbott when he is being overtly confrontational, as was

shown in the results of the recent Health Debate, which the Prime Minister clearly won.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

So Abbott has to decide if his strategies are right, because they’ve attacked Gillard before and it hasn’t worked. This is probably just a one-off attack to coincide with the PM’s mini-reshuffle, but the Coalition have to be wary.

Is the mad monk losing his early advantage?

10 Mar

I’m torn about the Australian Opposition Leader’s new policy on maternity care. Tony Abbott has announced that under a Liberal-National Coalition Government, Australian women should have 6 months full paid maternity leave, capped at $150,000. This is a fairly big move considering while he was in Government pre-2007, that the Coalition would have a compulsory maternity cover scheme “over the Government’s dead body

The Rudd Government currently has an 18 week maternity leave policy that offers at least minimum wage, which is better than many countries. Clearly though, many companies offer its female employees other options, but Rudd’s programme is guaranteed. But that clearly doesn’t compare to Abbott’s amazing policy. So whats the catch?

Well, he has said it would be funded by a 1.7% tax on companies with profits above $5 million. Current systems rely on tax funding costing only $260 million. It is all pretty rich for a guy who has been pummeling the Government’s ETS policy as a Great Big New Tax. Naturally, the Government has been pummeling right back on this issue. Business Groups are also obviously a tad peeved saying it will lower growth and hamstring business and industry.

One has to question the thinking behind the policy. There will definitely be more complaints and moans to come. For instance, if one business doesn’t have any, or at least a low percentage, of women seeking maternity cover, there will be  complaints as to why they should have to pay the tax. I don’t think it will lead to less women being employed, because companies will realise they have already forked out the cash through the tax, so they won’t get hit twice by employing female staff.

But it will surely lead to a tightening of belts, leading to less overall jobs, for men and women, in the first place. As I said 1.7% is a big financial hit and that will have effects on the work-force. According to Abbott’s maths, this would take $2.7 billion out of business’ and industry’s pockets

It also turns out, Abbott didn’t sound out his MPs about the issue, another thing Rudd and team has been hitting him on and has declared it Policy on the Run.

It is  a questionable policy announcement considering in December Abbott and his team were promising No New Taxes in December – it looks like Abbot has  broken a promise even before they have faced an election.

Maybe this is  confirmation Abbott just wants Australian women at home, doing the ironing. We’ll see how this plays out.

Worrying trends in public perception of climate change data

16 Feb

The data below comes from a BBC poll into the public perception of the causes of climate change. This was published on the 5th of February and has had reasonably extensive coverage, but what is extremely troubling is that it similar to a trend seen in Australia.

The BBC data shows a huge increase in the amount of confusion about the cause of climate change and this probably has a lot to do with the mess the IPCC seems to find itself in and the debacle of the leaked climate change emails.

This is a quote from Dennis Shanahan in the Australian Newspaper today, which shows that there is some scepticism occuring quickly in Australia also;

There has also been a fall in the percentage of people who believe in climate change. In July 2008, 84 per cent of those surveyed believed climate change was happening and only 12 per cent did not believe it existed at all. Last weekend, the number who believed climate change existed had dropped to 73 per cent, down 11 points, and those who did not believe in it rose 10 points to 22 per cent.

This is overall pretty worrying. Two nations who need to lower its carbon emissions will soon have governments running very low on political capital on the issue.

Kevin Rudd improves in the polls

16 Nov

The Australian has released the latest polling figures for Kevin Rudd. They look good for the ALP and show that, for the time being anyway, the asylum seeker issue has run its course. This is also impressive considering that the polls were taken in 6 QLD marginals, if I’m reading my blogs correctly.  Let’s be honest, the Queensland ALP are slightly on the nose at the moment, so that means that the QLD public aren’t letting their issues with Bligh override their opinion of Rudd.

But lets face it, Rudd is currently very poll driven and his news drive after the negative figures came out last time could have made all the difference. Apologies separate, he has a mandate for change and it might be a stronger mandate come the election, so he really needs to use it to his advantage and push some high profile issues through.

It will be interesting to see how the results improve after the internationally positive coverage Rudd has received for trying to get the Climate Change talks back on track.

I’ll have a look at the Pollytics results this evening.

Here is the Australian article;

KEVIN Rudd is back in landslide territory if an election was held according to the latest Newspoll but the trend confirms a fall in two-party preferred support.

Malcolm Turnbull is also rebuilding trust with voters after the Utegate affair, recording the best result since his support crashed after he relied on a fake email to target the Prime Minister.

Newspoll, published exclusively in The Australian today has found two-party-preferred support for Labor is 56 per cent and support for the Coalition is 44 per cent.

That compares with a 52.7 per cent result for Labor at the last election.

The Prime Minister is still riding high with 63 per cent support on the question of who would make the better PM, unchanged from the previous Newspoll.

But Malcolm Turnbull has clawed back support from uncommitted voters, rising from 19 per cent to 22 per cent on the better PM question.

In the previous Newspoll primary vote support for Labor plunged by 7 percentage points, a result that appeared to spook the Prime Minister, who immediately undertook a saturation campaign defending the government’s border control policies on talkback radio.

Newspoll’s Martin O’Shannessy said the poll confirmed the trend picked up in the previous poll of a fall in two-party-preferred support for Labor since September.

“The interesting thing about Malcolm is he is rebuilding back to the levels before UteGate,” he said.

“But the Prime Minister’s support as the better prime minister has remained high in 11 consecutive Newspolls.”