The official 2016 Federal election campaign got off to a rather snoozy start this week.
You just know it’s going to be a long, boring, uninspiring election campaign when the major issues setting each side of the great political divide apart thus far are … wait for it … negative gearing, bracket creep and a crackdown on superannuation contributions for the rich.
No campaigning from either major party, for example, on anti-terror legislation, the rights of individuals to privacy, secretive international trade deals, military adventurism in the middle east or foreign military bases on sovereign Australian soil.
If ever there was an illustration of how the left-right political paradigm has become as obsolete as terms like ‘Trotskyite’, ‘Leninist’ or ‘smoko break’ … it’s this.
Election coverage off to painfully dull start
Last Sunday, while millions of mums across Australia were being treated to a slap up meal down the local courtesy of a once-in-a-year appreciative husband and/or their equally appreciative progeny, the 24-hour news media circus was in full swing trying desperately to make as much mileage as possible out of the painfully boring non-event that would officially kick off 2016’s electioneering extravaganza.
That was, of course, the PM (and avowed Republican), Malcolm Turnbull, dropping in on the Queen’s representative for a cuppa and to request both houses of parliament be dissolved.
For one, Dr Binay Kampmark was far from impressed with the ABC’s coverage. Writing for Global Research on Monday, here’s what Kampmark had to say in The Australian Election Campaign Begins: Twenty-Four Hour Banality:
“Big fan of LBJ, me mum,” said Chris Uhlmann, journalist for the ABC’s Twenty-Four hour television news network. And that, perhaps, was the only thing of any interest in what must be regarded as one of the most boring exhibitions of television in decades. The topic? Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s journey to seek the Governor General’s permission to dissolve both houses of parliament. An election looms.
The ABC’s media chopper had been commissioned to supply dull aerial pictures of the drive in from the Canberra airport of Australia’s Governor General, representative of Australia’s de jure head, the Queen of England. ABC journalists embroidered the pictures with the obvious. “That is the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, coming off the plane.” Who else could it have been?
Dr Kampmark isn’t the only one feeling a little underwhelmed at the prospect of tuning into what is being billed as Australia’s longest election campaign.
In Australian election campaigns are missing the masala, Sanam Sharma shared his thoughts on the Australian electoral process:
Talkback radio is going wild with political opinions, and prime time TV has political flavour to its programming across all major channels. Australia is abuzz with election fever.
Yet, some of us who have had the experience of growing up in India may find this election season in Australia a bit dull. Compared to election campaigning in India, the Australian version of this mega political event is rather bland.
Sharma points out how the Indian election experience differs:
In India, an election campaign is best delivered through a slender loudspeaker, mounted on top of a modest auto-rickshaw that slowly crawls through the city streets. The campaign slogans, and policy manifestos, are deafeningly shouted across the entire city day and night. The only way you can miss hearing these political announcements is if you happen to be hiding in an underground bomb shelter.
It’s hard to argue with Sharma that Australian election campaigns lack the pizzaz and energy of elections on the sub-continent, or almost anywhere else for that matter (with the possible exception of our cousins across the Tasman in New Zealand).
What will be 2016’s raw onion moment?
Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, news media will be desperate to inject as much flair into their non-stop coverage as possible. Cameras and boom mics will be constantly trained on the candidates in the hope that they will slip up and say or do something outrageously stupid.
Of course, the odds are far and away in favour of those hopes.
And on the flip side of the coin, politicians can only hope that that stupidity will spring forth only from their opponents. For the PR minders of the two PM hopefuls, they will do anything to avoid their charges doing anything rash.
Rash, like chomping into a raw onion, for example.
Battle between Sensible Mal and Sensible Bill
Early in the campaign, Labor’s Bill Shorten declared that this election is not about personalities. “Let’s be clear: this election isn’t about Mr Turnbull or myself. It’s about the Australian people.”
Given that the two candidates: Mal and Bill will both do everything within their power to convince the Australian voter that they are the only sensible choice, by trying really, really hard not to do anything that could possibly in any way be construed as insensible, we can only hope that the election will not be about personalities.
But given the sameness of the two main parties, a policy-based campaign may not be much of an improvement.
To reinforce their respective sensibleness, each major party (and possibly even the Greens) will attempt to out-sensible each other.
In fact, one only has to look at the mantras of the three main parties to see just how damn sensible they really are.
Jobs and growth (Coalition)
Positive Policies (ALP)
Standing up for what matters (Greens)
Now that is sensible!