What impression might the average disengaged swinging voter receive (if any) of electoral issues in the news today? Will anything penetrate?
Labor has just announced a $2.4 billion education policy package, which will “pump an extra $2.4 billion into the government and non-government school sector“, in part by reallocating $520 million away from the wealthiest private schools. It sounds positive and electorally attractive, and it might even “cut through” if the toffy Principal of The Kings’ School gets a guernsey on this evening’s TV network news bulletins, complaining about how dreadfully unfair it is to take money away from the rich and give it to poor Catholic schools instead.
On the other hand, the still-unconfirmed (and dubious-sounding) terrorist claim to have kidnapped two Australian hostages in Iraq is currently the top story on all major news websites: – News Online, SMH, Age and ABC. If it remains the lead story on tonight’s TV news as well, that may not bode well for the “cut through” value of Labor’s education policy. Equally, it may not be good news for the Coalition if true, because it graphically underlines the quagmire of Iraq and potentially highlights the upside of Latham’s withdrawal policy: if Australians aren’t there they can’t be kidnapped and beheaded.
Even ABC Online is carrying a story that counteracts the good news of Labor’s education policy, with a headline reading “Latham admits family worse off under Labor“.
And there are so many other less visible effects potentially shaping public consciousness. The parties’ subterranean direct mail and other campaigns in marginal seats, for instance. And other influences not orchestrated by the parties at all. For example, all CDU staff have just received an email reading as follows:
Although the overall level of advice concerning travel to Indonesia has not changed, DFAT are indicating that more attacks are possible in Indonesia and specifically that the possibility of another attack against Australians cannot be ruled out.
In light of this, the Vice-Chancellor wishes to advise that travel to Indonesia on University business will not be approved until further notice. Any travel already planned to Indonesia will be postponed / cancelled.
I wonder how many other public servants across Australia, and maybe employees of big corporations as well, are receiving similar communications, thereby heightening a general sense of anxiety and insecurity?
What does it all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.