Archive for the 'Political point-scoring' Category

Do personal political attacks work?

In the Victorian state election campaign, Labor has been running some grubby ads attacking Liberal leader Ted Baillieu because a real estate firm he was involved with, Baillieu Knight Frank, sold schools closed during the Kennett era (Baillieu’s response is here). Baillieu wasn’t even in Parliament at the time, and the issue is so far as I can see completely irrelevant to how he would operate as Premier.

Perhaps one reason the parties are resorting to personal attacks (the Liberals are focusing on Steve Bracks’ broken promises, thought at least this refers to his record as Labor leader) is that their actual policies are hard to tell apart, if you delete the partisan references. Take these announcements in the last couple of days:

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Is Kevin Rudd trying to wedge the Liberals?

It is no secret that the modern Liberal Party is – insofar as it can be characterised in ideological terms (always an important caveat, since few people’s views map neatly onto the organising ‘isms’ used by intellectuals) – an alliance of liberalism and conservativism. Interestingly, this is often an alliance within individuals as well as between individuals. There are social conservatives who hold essentially liberal (ie, pro-market) views on economic matters. There are social liberals who hold essentially conservative views on economic matters (ie, in favour of the old protectionist system). The Prime Minister has often discussed the liberal-conservative alliance, such as in this April 2006 speech:

The Liberal Party of Australia is the custodian of two traditions in Australian politics. It is the custodian of the classic liberal tradition, but it is also the custodian of the conservative tradition in Australian politics. You have frequently heard me use the expression

Does Senator Conroy support Telstra privatisation?

Opposition Communications Shadow Minister Stephen Conroy opposes the federal government’s decision to appoint Geoffrey Cousins to the Telstra board against the wishes of Telstra management:

“For the last eight years Mr Cousins has been a consultant to the Prime Minister,” Senator Conroy said. “The decision to give him another political appointment is a spectacular display of arrogance by the Howard Government and shows utter contempt for the interests of Telstra shareholders.”

But isn’t the whole point of Labor opposing the full privatisation of Telstra that it wants the government to show if not ‘utter contempt’ at least indifference to the interests of Telstra shareholders, by forcing them to finance telecommunications services that have no prospect of making money?

Less than two weeks ago, Conroy’s fellow MP Chris Hayes issued a press release which said:

Member for Werriwa Chris Hayes has called on the Prime Minister to pull Telstra into line over the price gouging and bully boy tactics that it is using on local schools. …