John Singleton, Nation Review, April 23-29, 1976, p. 681.
Ever since the It’s time campaign of ’72 all the experts have been taking a good hard look at political advertising, as if it were really important. Of course it is really only a minor bit of electioneering nonsense because neither of the major parties has anything important to say. Just knock the opposition and hope no one asks what you’d do about it yourself, seems to be the go.
Take It’s time. The reason it worked was that it really was time.
Anyone in Australia who wasn’t on death’s doorstep knew that politics in Australia consisted of Sir Robert Menzies knocking out some palooka in the first round every three years. A couple of time he was taken to a points decision, but, in the main, first round KO’s.
Then the grand old man decided to go to the cricket fulltime, Harold decided he’d take a swim, jolly John decided he’d take a drink and the next thing we know the new king is Billy. And it is hardly surprising that the electorate is getting more than a little jumpy and when Gough says it is time for a change, the electorate agrees and we switch brands.
But we would have switched with or without the advertising because all it did was reinforce the inevitable, albeit magnificently.
Then we had 18 months or so of finding out that maybe it had been time but then again maybe it hadn’t. So the Senate did their little bit and the next thing it was time for our new king to take on the new pretender to the throne who at that time was a newspaper boy from WA. And no one cared either way and so the vote went either way and Gough scraped in.
But then another 18 months later it was time again. The electorate which had thought Lib-Lab rule was all the same had seen that there really was a difference. Whereas the Libs were going about screwing up the country with their own weird mix of socialism and free enterprise, they at least did so slowly and boringly. Lab socialist rule on the other hand was so fast as to be reckless.
Not all of the people can be conned all of the time as someone said and the Libs did a good job last December of making sure no one forgot the blue and blunders of most of the waks Gough carried around with him. Not to mention the blues of Gough himself.
The ads hammered home the reminder with flair and skill but it is doubtful if the people would ever have forgotten in any case. Particularly as Malcolm Fraser did look and behave more like a PM than the angered Gough.
So now comes the NSW state elections. The Labor Party hits off first with the advertising academia for which they have become famous. The headlines are bold type and boring in content. The copy long and even more boring. The message is empty and the product promise non-existent, all of which doesn’t matter because no one reads it anyway.
On TV the socialist comrades have done their homework and come up with the news that Wran might not be Australia’s answer to JFK but he certainly scrubs up better than the other empty-suits in his skeleton-ridden wardrobe. I mean can you imagine how many votes the NSW Labor Party would get if waks like Ferguson, Hills, Einfield, etc. were actually exposed for public consumption.
So the comrades have Wran wandering around having a yarn about all the problems for young people and commuters and housewives and all the other big vote groups and telling us that the Libs have screwed it all up (true) and he is going to fix it all (absolute unbelievable bullshit).
But at least Wran has had the good sense to get all his mates to stay in hiding at least until May 2. The Libs on the other hand haven’t quite got over the euphoria of the success of last December. So it is that we have an incredible flying machine piloted jointly by Gough and Nev while Cairns tries to start it and the comrades try to get it off the ground stacked full of Connors and Khemlanis, Morosis and Medibanks. The Labor plane won’t fly, says the man with the voice, but Willis will. Wow.
And all the time I reckon the public are sitting at home thinking that there isn’t much difference between the two as between Whitlam and Snedden and who really cares.
Naturally I am biased but imagine if either party had the Workers Party state policies to promote:
The Workers Party would improve public transport, would reduce fares and would not increase taxes to do it. The Workers Party would:
- Remove government monopoly restrictions and allow private bus operators to run competitive services on all routes.
- Lease railway track time to private freight train operators and reduce the prices you must pay for the delivery of goods.
- Phase out money-hungry government buses and trains as private services become established.
- Gradually reduce the size of the public transport commission by not replacing workers who leave to work for private transport companies.
This year the PTC is likely to lose $300,000,000 of your money and that is more than $250 per family of four. With that much money each year private operators can run FREE buses!!!
The other parties have promised to waste even more money (taxes) on a dead and bungling PTC. And you will still be forced to pay exorbitant fares.
The Workers Party would improve NSW roads and reducde costs by:
- Subcontracting all construction and maintenance work. In NSW the government struggles for months and even years to build two or three miles of new road. Private contractors overseas are able to lay new roads at the rate of ONE MILE PER DAY and it costs 40 percent to 50 percent less than here.
- Allowing private enterprise to build and operate new tollways. The airspace above existing railway lines would be leased for the building of overhead tollways. The cost of these roads would be met by users and not the taxpayer.
The Workers Party would allow supermarkets to buy milk from any processor and to sell it at reduced prices. The dairy industry would be given the choice of voluntarily retaining the existing quota and zoning system. Increased consumption and competition would reduce the price of milk by at least 10c per litre.
The Workers Party would remove all price controls on the sale of bread. The restrictions on baking and delivery hours would be liberalised. It is illogical and costly to have expensive baking equipment being underutilised. We would also allow retailers to sell old bread at reduced prices. These measures should reduce the price of bread by at least 5c per loaf.
The Workers Party would reduce the spiraling costs of local councils and the rates rip-off by:
- Requiring councils to subcontract all construction and maintenance work. Councils would no longer need to spend money on expensive construction equipment which lies idle for much of the time.
- Abolish the practice of setting the salaries of senior council officers according to the amount of ratepayers money they spend. This leads to unnecessary overspending by councils.
- Requiring councils and the Valuer General to reveal and justify their formulas used for rating and valuation. In the case of an appeal it will be up to the council and the VG to prove that an increase is justified and necessary. Rates would thus be determined by the ratepayers and not be the bureaucrats.
The Workers Party would then be able to further reduce state taxes as the full impact of reduced government spending was felt.
But of course the Workers Party is still a little premature for the Australian apathy, it is all too logical. It makes common sense.
How much better, think the major parties, to just keep making the same mistakes, compounding the same errors, and run a few ads telling the same old lies about how this leader can fix it all better than that leader.
Surely the time has just about come when we see through all this patent nonsense and realise that the answer lies in either or both parties getting the hell out of the way and letting things happen. In the meantime about the only role that advertising can play is to reinforce the fact that there is little to differentiate between the two parties and therefore little to differentiate between the two campaigns and therefore better the devil we know than the bastards we don’t.
Hard luck Nev, you almost conned them.
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