How to imply a sinister twist from almost nothing

Turnbull link to Grech fee deal – EXCLUSIVE” headed the right column of the front page of this week’s edition of The Weekend Australian.  When the names Turnbull and Grech appear in the one line, the question is “What have they been up to now?”  Paul Maley’s answer is: “Godwin Grech, the Treasury official at the centre of the fake email affair, proposed a fee deal to the merchant bank running the OzCar fund whose chairman was a key backer and personal donor to Malcolm Turnbull.”   The plot thickens – you must read on.  “The effect of the deal was to enable Credit Suisse, the bank hired by Treasury to implement OzCar, to maintain its $5 million in fees, despite the fund being scaled back from $2 billion to $1.3bn.”  Then ‘the exclusive’: “The Weekend Australian can reveal that John O'Sullivan, the chairman of investment banking for Credit Suisse, donated more than $20,000 to the Wentworth Forum, the Opposition Leader's political fighting fund.”  And there’s more: “Mr O'Sullivan is president of the federal electorate conference in Mr Turnbull's Sydney electorate of Wentworth and a member of the Opposition Leader's Point Piper branch.”  Goodness me! More...

Political planning using Maslow’s pyramid

In the 2009 book The Best of Australian Political Writing edited by the publisher of Crikey, Eric Beecher, there is a chapter by Christine Jackman The future guy that was published in The Australian on 19 July 2008 that gives an account of the planning behind Kevin Rudd’s ascension to Opposition Leader and the campaign to wrest government from the Coalition.  In it she explains how Neil Lawrence, the advertising executive Labor had engaged to assist in preparation for the 2007 election, applied Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of human needs, which Maslow represented in the shape of a pyramid, to fashion Labor’s election strategy. More...

The corrosive effect of political anger

The intensity of anger being exhibited by some Coalition members seems to be on the increase, culminating last week in a ‘walkout’ of several of them from the House in protest.  If you doubt that anger is simmering just below the surface ready to bubble over unpredictably, watch a replay of this past week’s Question Time in the House of Representatives.

There are cogent reasons for anger among Opposition politicians.  They lost the last election and their leader with it.  After over a decade in power, that was bound to be upsetting, especially as many probably still feel, as does Tony Abbott, that the Howard Coalition was such a ‘good government’ and did not deserve, on its record, to be thrown out of office.  Several have said, and probably more feel that John Howard let the Coalition down by not arranging a timely succession to the top job.  Resentment about this eddies below and occasionally surfaces; Peter Costello has shown us how he feels several times.  To sense that the last election result might have been so different had Howard gone sooner must evoke ‘if only’ frustration and anger.  So the election result is reason enough for anger, but that after eighteen months the anger continues unabated, suggests that the result has not been accepted by some who persist with the view that the Coalition is the natural party to govern, and that Labor is a usurper not fit for high office. More...

Are Coalition scare campaigns running out of steam?

Scare or fear campaigns are as old as politics.  Scare the daylights out of the plebs and then pledge to protect them.  Better still, scare them about what your opponents are proposing to do, or even what you think they are going to do, or even what you have erroneously or dishonestly claimed they are going to do, and then commit yourself to not doing that.  Fear is corrosive and evokes a desire for protection from the threat.

When the general public wallowed in ignorance, fire and brimstone preachers of another era could instil the fear of eternal damnation, purgatory and an eternity in the fires of hell among those who disobeyed them, disbelieved them or even entertained different views.  The subjects quivered in terror, obedience followed.  In settings other than ecclesiastic, fear worked wonders – fear of losing one’s job ensured compliant workers, fear of tempest made taking shelter obligatory, and fear of the consequence of political decisions made voters apprehensive and ready to look elsewhere for leadership. More...