Not an eight month election campaign

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All the old media can talk about is Julia Gillard declaring an "eight month election campaign". Managing editor David Donovan says this is a furphy and a distraction.

Abbottoir GIF FIX

SO, JULIA GILLARD has called an election for September 14.

As I watched her National Press Club address yesterday, I thought: that's an interesting move. What I didn't think was: "Ohmigod! An eight month election campaign!"

Which obviously makes me utterly ineligible to work in Australia's mainstream media, because that was about the only thing the Canberra Press Gallery and the publications they work for could think about, and this shallow thought bite went into immediate rotation on the ever disappointing ABC24 and the always excitable SkyNews. It was repeated today by such luminaries in the field of political cogitation as Limited News' Sydney flagship The Daily Terror Telegraph, whose front page this morning thundered in skyscraper caps "227 DAYS OF FARCE" and was pretty much the line run by all of Australia's mainstream mindmeld media today.

The first thing that should be recognised is that most people already expected the election to be held around the time Julia Gillard announced it, so this year we were always going to be primarily in election mode. I mean, it's not like she was going to be able to announce it for 19 December 2014 — this is the year the election must be held.  Unless she was going to call an early election (and why would she?) it was always going to be called in early-mid September or November; late September and early October are footy finals and no Government is going to incur the wrath of the sports mad Australian public by calling it then. Of course, July is budget time.

So far, then, the announcement of the election seems to be a bit of a yawn.

[Yawn]. Sorry.

The second thing that should be instantly understood by the neurally challenged in the MSM is that simply knowing when an election will be called does not mean the election campaign has actually begun. If it did, it would mean we would have been having four year election campaigns in most Australian States and Territories for years, as most of them have fixed terms — therefore you know exactly when an election will be called straight after the last one.

This argument, therefore, is a furphy and a distraction.

The Government is not in caretaker mode, and will not be until the Writs are issued in late July, so they still need to perform all the responsibilities of a Government and therefore won't have time to launch into full election mode. The Opposition, of course, is already campaigning — as shown by the Coalition's detail free "mini campaign" launch in a Western Sydney shed last week, so no change there.

[Double Yawn] Pardon me!

The third point that should be acknowledged even by the wackiest anti-Government zealot (I'm looking at you Chris Kenny) is that this move has been almost universally applauded by Federal MPs. Oh, of course, Chris Uhlmann on 7.30 last night had one "unnamed Government MP" saying it was an "unmitigated disaster" — but we can discount most "unnamed sources" emanating from the mainstream media at the moment (cf "leadershit"). All the MPs I've heard actually willing to go on the record have been highly supportive, even including the manager of Opposition business Christopher Pyne, who with typical humility declared on ABC24 this morning that his "parliamentary tactics" had "bamboozled the Government into announcing the election eight months in advance". (He also said some other things, but more about that in a minute.)

Abbott and Pyne

That's right, most MPs said the certainty and planning arising from knowing when an election will be held was much appreciated; it greatly assisted their planning and it got rid of all the silly business involved in calling elections. None of them I've heard suggested they would be doorknocking and handing out how to vote cards for eight months. The Greens have even called for fixed terms.

Zzzz... [Nudge] Wha..!?! Oh, sorry.

So, all we have really shown so far is that the level of groupthink in Australia's establishment media has reached gobsmackingly titanic proportions; if you read, watch or listen to any one pundit then you know what they all think. Are they are a waste of space and airtime, to be listened to merely for the odd belly-laugh and to save you needing to access the Liberal Party website to find Peta Credlin's latest talking points, and certainly not for any "thinkie thinkie" type stuff — well you can reach your own conclusions there, I couldn't possibly say.

So what have we really learnt?

The real question is: why did Gillard call the election? The answer to this is simple. Firstly, it puts pressure on the Liberal Party to announce their budget costings. The Liberals planned, I am absolutely sure, to continue slinging mud (mainly through the media and other third parties, so Tony can try to look "positive") at Labor this year, whilst holding off announcing any major policies whatsoever until an election was called — and even after that, until as close as possible to the actual day so their costings couldn't be properly tested by Treasury.

GillardPressClubIt is the same tactic they always use, mind you, but they have an added reason for doing it this time — because by cutting the carbon and mining taxes, and through their other commitments, they already have a massive blackhole in their budget — no-one really knows how big, though the number $70 billion is often bandied about. This gives them little space to move. Their only hope is to keep tarnishing Labor's brand and hold off announcing any further spending commitments until after the time in which it would be realistically possible for Treasury to cost them.

To explain away their lack of transparency, as they have already demonstrated, they will resort to a mixture of lies and obfuscation. Christopher Pyne on ABC24 this morning, for instance, said the pressure was on the Government to announce how it would fund its "$120 billion black hole". When asked where he came up with this figure, he said it was from an article in the Financial Review last year. When forced to explain what the hole in funding related to, Pyne said it came from such things as "funding Gonski, funding the NDIS and such this defence, such as forward defence contracts".

But, wait a minute, hasn't the Coalition also agreed to fund the NDIS? Wouldn't they also need to honour defence contracts? Wouldn't these same costs also be holes the Opposition would need to fill? Why should only the Government need to detail how they would cover these costs? Moreover, a closer reading of the article shows that this so-called black-hole merely collates Government liabilities to the end of the decade — not next year, as Pyne implied.

Meaningless spin.

The extent of this obfuscation by Pyne is so great, in my view, it is essentially lying. But then, we know that Pyne does lie — as shown by his initial statements and then subsequent backtracking regarding his numerous meetings with Slipper accuser James Ashby last year. And if I was, say, a young Liberal volunteer helping Christopher Pyne campaign for election, I'd be very dubious about any promises he might have made me, since his word does not seem to be his bond. Therefore, I find it somewhat surprising to see Chris Pyne make this current foray into the media, after having more or less gone to ground about Justice Rares' decision last year on the Ashby case last December. Even more so after the LNP airbrushed him out of the their campaign material last week. I suspect we'll find out soon enough why they took this sensible precaution.

Christopher Pyne: out of the picture.

Joe Hockey took an even more direct approach than Pyne yesterday on Fox SkyNews yesterday. He declared boldly that in her Press Club speech:
"Julia Gillard says Australian don't pay enough tax, but did not explain what taxes she'd raise."

I listened to Gillard's speech closely, she never said any such thing. What Joe Hockey did there was to tell a great big blatant lie. Of course, the SkyNews "interviewer" didn't even skip a beat. He certainly didn't ask him, as he should have: "Hey Joe, I didn't hear her say that. WTF are you talking about?"

Of course, Sky News is also owned by Rupert Murdoch.

What Gillard actually said was the Government's tax receipts had declined due to a falling revenue base, meaning the Government had to make some hard decisions about cuts to programmes. She certainly never said Australians "weren't paying enough tax".

The strangest irony in all this is that the Government Joe Hockey was a minister in was, in fact,  Australia's most profligate high taxing Government, and one that ignored spending on infrastructure, preferring to buy votes through middle class handouts. Howard might like to deny this, but it has been shown conclusively by a report from none other than the International Monetary Fund. We also know that this current Government is one of Australia's lowest taxing Governments, as shown through its Tax- GDP ratio. But forget all that when Joe hits the airwaves, because according to Hockeynomics and its groundbreaking new maths, the current Government is, according to him, a bigger tax taker than the Howard Government! Indeed, he said exactly that yesterday on ABC NewsRadio.


The Pub blog explains this comic masterpiece by Joe Hockeysticks:
Now, we all now the incontrovertible truth that the Federal Labor Government has had a lower Tax/GDP Ratio over it’s term of government than that which the Howard Government had over its lifespan.

Well, apparently not, according to Joe Hockey. I mean, I really must bow to the creative genius that came up with this, but apparently the Gillard/Rudd governments are bigger ‘Tax Takers’ than the Howard Government. How can this be? I hear you asking yourself, surely the figures don’t lie? Well, maybe, maybe not. It seems it’s all in the definition of the word ‘Tax’. As Joe ‘Eleventy’ Hockey has redefined what it means! As he explained it to Marius Benson, ‘This Labor Government’ is a ‘High Taxing’ government because they have borrowed too much money that future generations will have to repay in taxes, and you have to add this to the amount of tax they are taking from you now to get the real picture of just how bad they are.

Now I am sure that a sensible economist could do the sums on this contention and it would still probably show that the federal Labor government are a Low Taxing Government, but that’s not the point. Or, that’s not the Talking Point, I should say. The point is that the Coalition have found a way to tarnish the economic reputation of the Gillard Labor Government, which has rested until now on an indisputable economic fact. By redefining it. It is devious, and it is wrong, but just watch them repeat this new mantra over and over this year, as if it were the truth.

And this deviousness is precisely what we will see from the Oppoisiton this year. But it will fall short, now the election has been called, because people will soon tire of this bullshit and demand to see the facts. And facts – as opposed to lies, smears and obfuscation − are something about which the Opposition, under Tony Abbott, have little experience or understanding.

And that is why the Prime Minister has called the election now.

And after having just watched Tony Abbott's address to the National Press Club today, it was, unsurprisingly, empty of any policy detail whatsoever. It was all about Tony Abbott trying to mend his broken image, as shown through today's leaked emails.

I rest my case.

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