Home' Scoop : Scoop 53 Spring 2010 Contents 24 scoop SPRING 2010
am extraordinarily proud of being
Australian. We are a mix of people of
every possible race and religion. We have a
proud military history. We have a national
character that emphasises hard work, good
humour, fairness and compassion. And, we are
blessed with a stable social, economic and political
environment that too many of us take for granted.
We are truly the ‘Lucky Country’.
As Australia matures as a nation, we will have
important decisions to make that will affect the
future of every Australian. The world is changing
and we can’t take our wealth or our security for
granted. We need leadership to stand up on the
local and the world stages, and to make tough
decisions on our money, our future and whether or
not our sons and daughters are sent to war.
I think, however, we deser ve better leadership
than we’re getting. And I feel it’s up to us, the media,
to start playing our part and demand a values-driven
agenda and cohesive vision for the country.
The alternative? What we got at the last Federal
election – two individuals locked into a popularity
contest and both throwing billions at policy on the
run with no reference to a ‘values-driven ag enda or
coherent vision for Australia’. Horrifying!
The debate over the future of Australia
went something like this:
“I am going to spend $46 billion on a
“Well, I am going to give women more paid
maternity leave – I bet you wish you had thought
of that first!”
“Well, we are g oing to give men two weeks as
well, and 10 per cent of teachers an $8000 bonus
– you didn’t think of that!”
“OK, well, we will give teachers a $6000 bonus
and stop the boats, something you never got to do.”
“Are you speaking Gospel truth this time, Tony?”
This is the type of interaction that gets our
kids sent to their rooms. If only the media had
that kind of authority.
THE GAME SHOW Next election, instead
of a campaign, I vote we consolidate four weeks
of torture into a 60-minute game show. The r ules
would be the same as for the real election campaign.
Make it M rated; don’t let the kids watch; and make
sure it doesn’t conflict with MasterChef Australia.
Two challenges would deter mine the winner :
Challenge The candidates must explain their
vision for Australia, but in a way that completely
lacks detail and accountability, and in no way
limits future policy setting. No single vision can
be any longer than five words. Slog ans such as ‘A
Sustainable Australia’ and ‘A Fairer Australia’ will
win extra points and can, and should, be repeated
as often as possible during the show.
Challenge Each contestant is given 10 minutes
to make up policy that will affect the lives of all
Australians for the next three years. That should be
more than enough time. T he challenge will be to
develop it without reference to any values-driven
agenda or meaningful vision. At question time, each
contestant will get no more than 10 pre-determined
answers to cover all questions. Surprise guests, such
as Mark Latham and Malcolm Turnbull, can hit the
contestants ‘Jerry Springer-style’, while Bob Brown
can be asked only questions on the environment
and same-sex marriage, based on the fact that
no one seems at all concerned about the Greens
lunatic-fringe social and economic policy.
THE WINNER The winner – voted by the
audience – will be based on who makes the fewest
mistakes. It will not be based on what they stand
for, as no one gets that anyway. If both candidates
make too many mistakes, the audience vote will go
to the Greens. Its votes will then be tallied up with
Labor’s anyway – and if more than 50 per cent,
they will be the winners.
WHICH CAME FIRST – THE
POLITICIAN OR THE MEDIA?
I don’t believe we would lose much from this new
approach to Federal elections. Such was the puerile
nature of the recent campaign that by the end of it,
I don’t believe the majority of Australians had any
more idea about what Julia Gillard or Tony Abbot
stood for, or their vision of Australia, than I did.
Whether it was stopping the boats, reducing
debt, saving the environment or managing a
sustainable population, it all came down to “we can
do it better than they can”. With nothing more to
go on, personality, TV ads and spin won the day.
It is hard to know which came first: a
sensationalist media or politicians without vision.
It was probably a mix of both. I have met plenty
of politicians and the majority are passionate
people who work hard for what they believe
in – it’s just that no one outside of their closest
friends knows what that is.
The reality is if the media is only interested in
covering the politics and the spin, then politics and
spin are the g ames our politicians must play to win.
After all, it was the mass media, eager to swallow
every line cast out by the master of spin, that swept
Kevin Rudd to power at the 2007 election. Not that
John Howard left them with a great alternative.
Politicians, policy, media and ‘Jerry Springer-style’ surprise guests
all that’s missing is a vision for the future of Australia... text David Hogan
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