Random impressions

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.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“What does it all mean?’

Possibly not much. The most viewed story on the SMH website from midnight last night was “what the gossip mags say” while the Age ‘most viewed’ honours go to a story about Oprah giving away a new car to each member of her studio audience. Where would we be without the engaged broadsheet demographic?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Geoff

Yes, that makes my point even better. The most the average punter will be getting is a very vague impressionistic idea of the campaign and issues. And, as you say, you’d expect readers of the Fairfax websites to be significantly more attuned to politics than the average. Disengaged voters might vaguely register the top one or two stories on the evening TV news, but that’s about it.

It underlines the fact that minute, breathless blow-by-blow analysis of the campaign has more to do with keeping political junkies amused than anything else. I’m seriously considering reducing or stopping the effort to produce a steady election coverage on Troppo, partly because I can’t think of anything very interesting to say, and partly because I think it’s mostly a waste of time for the reason we’ve just discussed. It also seems that the campaign is polarising blog readership. The vast majority of readers seem to prefer to discuss the issues on a blog where they can talk with people of a similar mindset to themselves (whether left or right), only occasionally venturing out to conduct hit and run guerilla raids on hostile or neutral territory blogs.

So I think I’ll concentrate on topics that interest me personally, which may or may not have any connection with politics, but certainly won’t be direct campaign commentary.

Gibbo
2021 years ago

Hi Ken,

“…highlights the upside of Latham’s withdrawal policy: if Australians aren’t there they can’t be kidnapped and beheaded.”

This would assume that it was military people who were kidnapped. As far as I hear, they were private security contractors. Would Marks’ plan apply to civilians as well?

Rowen
2021 years ago

Thing is the troops are fine as far as kidnappers go. Troops have guns, and they hang around in groups. It’s the poor sods who are over there doing support things for the troops that are getting taken; truck drivers and other civillians. If the US used troops to do that work there’d be a lot less soft targets wandering around Iraq.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Gibbo

Presumably not, but that isn’t the point. The point is the vague general impression disengaged voters may get (if any). They’re unlikely to be wasting time or effort thinking or analysing at all, as you’ve just done. The most they may think is “Yuck, best we get out of that joint”, or “Bastards. You can’t let animals like that just keep doing it.”

PaulM
PaulM
2021 years ago

I think it’s unreasonable to draw the inference by saying “If we’re not there than it’s not possible to be kidnapped and beheaded”.

Your statement implies that it was an armed services person who was kidnapped? What about an aussie who is working as a private security guard etc.

Hardly the fault or responsibility of Govt? Certainly the responsibility to get that person home safe (if there is indeed anyone kidnapped at all).

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

How many times do I have to explain? I’m not talking about my own opinion at all, just speculating about what impression (if any) an average disengaged voter might get of today’s news. They’re not going to be giving a moment’s thought to whether the people kidnapped (if there were any) were servicemen or civilian contractors or whatever, or whose fault it is, or how it might be prevented or the risks minimised. The most they’re likely to register is that Australians have been kidnapped in Iraq and are under threat of being beheaded, while grabbing a drink and a snack, yelling at the kids to stop fighting, kicking the dog off the couch and waiting for the sports news.

Rex
Rex
2021 years ago

Geoff’s observation on the most read articles is telling.

I think the impression this gives the general man in the street is, that modern life is just way too complex; too many choices; too many people shouting ‘listen to me’; too many forms to fill in; too many economic evaluations to make; too much craziness; too much blood and guts.

I think I’m going to go out right now and invest in “Escapist Entertainment Inc.”

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“How many times do I have to explain?’

Quite possibly many, many times, Ken. It’s the zeitgeist, as Rex says.

Scott Wickstein
2021 years ago

I’m downloading 1950’s Goon Show comedies, because I’ve never been one for the zeetguest (or wotever..)

This election is Henry Crun vs Bluebottle (he says, and wonders how many Troppo readers will get the joke…)

cs
cs
2021 years ago

It underlines the fact that minute, breathless blow-by-blow analysis of the campaign has more to do with keeping political junkies amused than anything else.

Don’t be such a grumblebum Parish. The sight of a disengaged swinging voter like yourself grumbling about the difficulties of trying to divine what the “average disengaged swinging voter” might think is a touch pathetic, don’t you think? The ‘don’t care’ trying to work our what the effects are on the ‘average don’t care’ is way beyond being a political junkie, That’s tragic territory, pure and simple.

Meanwhile, history is being made. If you blog the election, you’ll be able to bore the christ out of your grandchildren when they’re forced to study it in the future.

And if all else fails, just post the suggestion that the Liberal Party must be active in Iraq, and you’re sure to get some odd minds popping in.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Thinks, not very many readers will get that joke, Scott.

Thinks, Sheil isn’t an illiterate idiot, so he must be winding me up when he labels me a disengaged swinging voter. Best I just ignore the wanker, in the most civil way possible.

Thinks, what does he mean “odd minds popping in”? What does he think his is? What does he think mine is? Fights down overwhelming urge to do Bluebottle imitation out loud, Min, in case the neighbours think Parish is even weirder than they imagined.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2021 years ago

Don’t agree with your assessment of the effects of the Head Of Kings on the voting public, Ken.

After Howard’s comment re values in government schools. I saw him on some panel with a teachers union prick on one side and some dickhead academic blabbering about about social equality on the other. He came across very well, well he couldn’t help but, he had two of the best advertisements for private school education that you could possibly want “keep your children away from these sad fuckers at whatever the cost”

cs
cs
2021 years ago

He’s breaking everyone up over at my place James – no-one can get enough of him, he’s an instant ledg; almost Flinty status.

Ken, the schools thing ripped on 7.30 Report. Doesn’t matter how you cut it, the votes are in the bank on this one. Then again, I suppose the disengaged centrists were all watching that Idol thing.

Mork
Mork
2021 years ago

ABC suggests that the Kings headmaster said the following:

“It seems slightly Irish to me that the Labor Party has gone to that small group of schools that only gets a fraction of the funding relative to state schools and poorer schools and says, well, that small group that gets just a fraction, we’re going to take even that fraction away from them,” he said.

“I’d have to say that that for me infringes on the idea of entitlement,” he said.

Slightly Irish … ?

Entitlement … ?

It’s got to be a put-on, right?

harry
harry
2021 years ago

Hit strike! Hit! Hithithithit!

On the electric wireless the headmaster of Kings went so far as to say money was being taken from Anglicans and given to Catholics to buy their vote, and as such was a discriminatory tactic by the Labor party.
I think most people will dismiss him as a crank. And then wonder “Why does Kings have a rifle range?” as I did.
Does the school provide the guns? Or do the kids have to bring their own like at Cabramatta High?

Ken, Chris hates it when you slow down because (a) he wants everyone to talk politics; and (b) because the RWDBs turn up at your place.

Robert
2021 years ago

The King’s School headmaster actually supports Labor’s policy. At least, he would if he based his verdict on his stated public policy preference…

Francis Xavier Holden
2021 years ago

The Kings College Head Boy is just amazing. I had to check that it wasn’t really Sir Murray Rivers QC (Retired).Sir
Murrays details – Catholics, Irish, Entitlement. I must have missed the bit about Jews and Communists.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2021 years ago

According to a story on the Age web site,

“Blue-ribbon Victorian schools such as Scotch College, Melbourne Grammar and Wesley College are among those whose funding would be slashed under a Labor Government”

Well, I’ve had a good look at the numbers and ‘slash’ is not the right word. Wesley College, one of the biggest victims of the cuts, is going to have its funding cut by $2.4 million over 4 years. Wesley College has 3000 students, so its funding is going to be cut by $200 per student per year.

Big deal.

Already we’re hearing how fees are going to have to up, and how aspirational parents are going to be forced to rip their kids out of private schools and send them instead to public schools.

What a load of crap. The schools on the hit list already charge $15000 per year in fees. Another $200 per year is nothing.

It is interesting to see what schools aren’t on the hit list, all the Jewish schools for instance, including rich ones. I suppose there are good reasons for this, and have nothing to do with the fact that mostl of Melbourne’s Jewish schools are located in the marginal seat of Port Melbourne, which Labor needs to hold, and where the sitting Labor MP Michael Danby (aka the member for Israel) is facing a serious challenge from a Jewish Liberal candidate.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

No, there’s no other reason Dave :)

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2021 years ago

I have not seen Mr Kings School in the latest bits. He sounds a character and is pushing the right buttons.

snuh
snuh
2021 years ago

i note that kings, which incidentally latham name-dropped twice during the debate [according to my hazy memory], is in the electorate of parramatta, perhaps the most important marginal in the country.

so maybe the port melbourne thing isn’t as craven as it sounds.