Monday, April 18, 2011

Divisive Abbott In Front

This week, Tony Abbott was saying that the government should listen to the unions. The context is over the carbon tax and some unions have publicly expressed concerns about their fears. In particular, Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union, which represents many workers in the manufacturing, steel, aluminium, glass, oil & gas, aviation, agriculture, construction, state public services, local government, health, plastics, hospitality, food, paper, resources, aquaculture, events and racing industries. Many of the industries above will be affected in some way by a carbon tax.

Back to Tony Abbott.
  • As a Minister in the Howard government, Tony Abbott voted for, and defended, WorkChoices legislation. WorkChoices was designed to lower wages, and prevent unions from representing members in pay negotiations. That is, he wanted to stop unions speaking up for members. This week, he thinks they should, because it suits him politically.
  • On 9-December-2010, Tony Abbott gave an interview in which he said:
    • “The Labor Party is in government but the Greens are in power. “
    • “… we’ve had more WikiLeaks today which demonstrates that the unions are in charge … they’re effectively running the Government”. (most of us would think that, if the Greens were in power, they’d also be in charge. Not, apparently, Tony Abbott, who thought the unions ran the government, and therefore had power!)
      • Here, he clearly wanted Prime Minister Julia Gillard to NOT listen to union officials.
    • On 16-April-2011, Tony Abbott thought ( )
      • “I just think it’s very important that the Prime Minister should listen to the people who are at last expressing the concerns of Australians workers.”
    • Today’s position by Tony Abbott seems to be the exact opposite of what he wanted when in Government, and as Leader of the Opposition last December.

    2pp-2011For all of that, Tony Abbot’s short slogans, frequent media “doorstop” statements, and frequent visits to backdrop sites to which voters relate is effective. While it is driven by his need to be divisive – a tactic he believes will eventually make him PM -  By contrast, Julia Gillard and Labor seems to want to debate the issue, with no one, certainly not PM Julia Gillard, visiting workplaces with the same frequency as Tony Abbott. No wonder the latest polls show a drop in support for Labor, and for Julia Gillard as PM.
    The chart shows the figures from Newspoll.

    Back to Julia Gillard. If she wants to counter Tony Abbott’s popularity, she, and her ministers, need to adopt the same tactics as Abbott:
    • frequent “doorstop” interviews
    • these interviews need to have a backdrop/setting that voters will connect with.
    • there needs to be constant repetition of short slogans.  eg ‘carbon tax – for the environment’; ‘carbon tax – for our children’
    • she should not stop proper debates, but, since most voters are unthinking, and respond to the number of media appearances/mentions, Abbott’s techniques are effective. They're not good for public debate, but effective.