John Singleton, “Singo returns the slings and arrows,” Times on Sunday, August 2, 1987, p. 16.

With the Federal election out of the way, JOHN SINGLETON responds to those who criticised the way in which he handled the Labor Party’s advertising.

Initially, Senator Graham Richardson approached me through Rene Rivkin to see if I would handle the Hawke re-election campaign.

For starters, both Rene Rivkin and I knew we were on a hiding to nothing. If Labor won the day the advertising would have played an irrelevant role. If Labor was beaten the advertising would have been the single most damaging factor.

On the other hand it was the most important job in the country.

I believed that the return of the Hawke-Keating Government was essential to Australia’s short and long-term competitiveness.

On the other hand, a re-election of the Liberal/National rabble at this stage would have had devastating effects.

There really was no decision but to take the risk and do the right thing no matter what the cost.

After all, neither Rene nor I have ever hidden the fact that we could actually struggle through even if all our clients left us overnight; which at about 7.30 on election night seemed a real good possibility.

Anyone who has studied democratic politics in Australia, or the world for that matter, knows you can’t retain office in an economic downturn. On the precedents, a Labor victory was just about impossible! The ANOP polls showed it.

Even Britain’s greatest hero, Winston Churchill, couldn’t pull it off.

But the Hawke-Keating team headed up by Federal boss Bob McMullan and world champion researcher Rod Cameron did pull off the impossible, with a little bit of help from the most viciously criticised advertising ever used in an election campaign.

Well, it’s over and the results of the Labor campaign are obvious in the only poll that really matters.

Now is the time to reflect on the opinions of those who, during the campaign, took the chance to take cheap shots at me while I was in no position to defend myself.

1) Leo Schofield: Leo was kind enough to say that he still had “chilling” memories of a campaign I had run some 12 years ago. That was flattering really because I cannot remember even one campaign Leo has ever been responsible for.

My memories of Leo are limited to his ramblings about food and grog as some kind of religious experience. And along with his giggling interference with anything that even has a whiff of progress.

Leo sits in his chromium-plated office pontificating on preserving everything that is outdated, useless or just plain ugly.

He is a sort of socially acceptable fine-food-and-wine Jack Mundey or a plump and somewhat effeminate Diamond Jim McClelland.

Leo is the sort of person who would have been against the introduction of the motor car, anaesthetic, TV or radio; unless he thought of them himself, which he wouldn’t.

I was pleased that Leo was so much against my appointment because it was only then I knew the appointment was spot on.

2) Phillip Adams: Like Leo, Phillip has managed to spend his whole career in advertising. Yet I can’t remember his ever developing one single memorable campaign.

I suspect that actually Phillip has always hated advertising. If so, that must be terrible, to spend your whole life doing something you hate.

But he did bring us Bazza McKenzie, who was perfect for the time. And Phillip also re-arranges millions of words that appear every day in every newspaper and magazine in the world. Or so it appears.

Phillip may be a marvellous writer but he is also a terrible editor, so you can’t read his work every week like, say, a Mike Gibson or David McNicoll, because you never know whether Adams will be really great or really boring because I don’t think Phillip knows the difference.

Alternatively, Phillip Adams doesn’t read what Phillip Adams writes either.

Phillip is now attempting to be a breakfast disc jockey in Sydney and I have even been attempting to help him. But it is hard for a bloke who has lived all his life in Melbourne and whose hobby is collecting stuffed Egyptian mummies to relate to Sydney.

Especially a bloke who confesses that he has never been in a pub, never been to the fights or the races, never seen a game of football of any kind, let alone Rugby League. Never been pissed, never been in a blue, never lost the lot on a certainty in the last at Randwick. Hates sport.

It isn’t just hard for Adams to relate — it is impossible.

But any lingering doubts I had about the correctness of working for the re-election of the Hawke Government were removed entirely when Phillip panned the idea.

The last time this great judge panned anything so fulsomely or bitterly was a movie which later proved somewhat successful called Crocodile Dundee.

3) The Campaign Palace: Rather than answer their petulant criticisms, I will hope The Palace fronts up for Nick Greiner at the next NSW election. Why? Because I think it very important that Barrie Unsworth win.

4) Tony Eggleton: This man is the ALP’s secret weapon. What a track record. Eggleton shot to prominence by looking serious over the demise of Gorton, McMahon, Snedden, Fraser and Peacock before backing up to make sure Howard got no support whatsoever.

I feel sure that if/when Peacock gets the job that Eggleton will go. But I think it likely Howard will keep him on. He makes John look like a winner.

5) John Laws: Lawsie and I have been mates for as long as either of us can forget. But John’s attempts to denigrate everything Labor during the campaign, including the advertising, shows only one thing — John Laws, CBE, is aware you don’t get a big knighthood because of the records you spin.

Maybe Howard should give Lawsie one retrospectively. He’s good at that stuff and Lawsie certainly deserved one for his sustained pro-Howard efforts.

6) The National Farmers’ Federation: If the really did have $15 million to spend, they must have decided to save it all for another election. The only ads I saw were insipid, unreadable and meaningless.

So far the NFF has only served one purpose as far as I can make out: to make former obscure Sheffield Shield cricketer Ian McLachlan semi-famous. For what purpose? I can hear the farmers ask.

In fact, the only people who got it right (apart from pros like the PM himself, and his hunchmen like Cassidy, Farmer, Sorby, Hogg and Emerson) were astrologer Athena Starwoman, who predicted it to the minute by the stars, and Sydney journalist-humorist Frank Crook.

On the last day of the election, Frank wrote that our advertising was pitched to the “orangutan mentality”. Frank got it dead right: we were after the swingers. Have you ever seen an orangutan swing?

Anyway, now it’s all over and the campaign results, like all campaign results, speak for themselves.

I am proud of the role we played. I believe that it was right that we stick with Hawke and Keating on the right track. I would not have done the campaign for any amount of money if I didn’t believe that to be true.

Now let us hope that the best Labor Party this country has ever had is given an Opposition worthy of it and that good men who believe in real competition, especially in political thought, will now be encouraged to revitalise the Coalition in the future. Or begin a new force as Menzies did with the devastated UAP.

The great thing about this election is that for sure now the Coalition will realise that they are not born to rule. And the prime ministership will never again be competed for by a man as lacking in leadership or credibility as the dogged, determined but totally unsuited John Howard.

Sure, I feel sorry for John Howard the man. But I would have felt even sorrier for Australia if John Howard and his disunited rabble had been allowed to bribe their way back to power no matter what the cost.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Holed up, hold-up and holdout
  36. The libertarian alternative vs the socialist status quo
  37. Workers Party Platform
  38. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  39. Singo and Howard on Business
  40. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  41. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  42. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  43. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  44. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  45. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  46. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  47. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  48. The last words of Charles Russell
  49. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  50. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  51. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  52. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  53. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  54. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  55. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  56. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  57. Voices of frustration
  58. Policies of Workers Party
  59. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  60. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  61. Singo and Howard on Context
  62. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  63. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  64. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  65. Singo and Howard on Decency
  66. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  67. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  68. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  69. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  70. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  71. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  72. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  73. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  74. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  75. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  76. Bludgers need not apply
  77. New party formed "to slash controls"
  78. The Workers Party
  79. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  80. The great consumer protection trick
  81. The "Workers" speak out
  82. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  83. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  84. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  85. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  86. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  87. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  88. Singo and Howard on Young People
  89. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  90. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  91. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  92. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  93. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  94. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  95. Political branch formed
  96. Government seen by new party as evil
  97. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  98. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  99. Singo and Howard on Licences
  100. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  101. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  102. Singo and Howard on Voting
  103. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  104. Singo and Howard on Education
  105. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  106. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  107. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  108. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  109. A happy story about Aborigines
  110. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  111. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  112. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  113. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  114. The Discipline of Necessity
  115. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  116. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  117. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  118. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  119. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  120. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  121. The impossible dream
  122. Why can't I get away with it?
  123. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  124. Time for progress
  125. The loonie right implodes
  126. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  127. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  128. Censorship should be banned
  129. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  130. John Singleton on Advertising
  131. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  132. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  133. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  134. John Singleton defends ockerism
  135. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  136. The Census Con
  137. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  138. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  139. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  140. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  141. John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
  142. John Hyde's Progress Party praise
  143. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  144. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  145. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  146. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  147. Save Parramatta Road
  148. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  149. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  150. Singo and Howard on Unions
  151. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  152. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  153. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  154. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  155. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  156. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  157. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  158. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  159. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  160. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  161. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  162. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  163. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  164. The mouse will roar
  165. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  166. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  167. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  168. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  169. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  170. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  171. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  172. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  173. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  174. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  175. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  176. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  177. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  178. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  179. Product innovation comes first
  180. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  181. A party is born
  182. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  183. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  184. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  185. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  186. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  187. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  188. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  189. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  190. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  191. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  192. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  193. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  194. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  195. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  196. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  197. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  198. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  199. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  200. Return Australia Post to Sender
  201. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  202. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  203. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  204. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  205. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  206. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  207. Gortlam rides again
  208. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  209. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  210. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  211. Singo asks two prickly questions
  213. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  214. Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
  215. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  216. An Ode to Busybodies
  217. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  218. How many tits in a tangle?
  219. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  220. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  221. A speech from the Titanic
  222. A crime must have a victim
  223. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  224. Minimum wages the killer
  225. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  226. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  227. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  228. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  229. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  230. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  231. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  232. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  233. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  234. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  235. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  236. New improved moon
  237. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  238. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  239. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  240. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  241. John Singleton schools ad course
  242. John Singleton: advertising awards
  243. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  244. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
  245. John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare
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