Don’t Let the Bastards Spin You Hype: Hockey’s Sleight of Hand

This morning, I caught Joe Hockey being interviewed by the ABC’s morning presenter, Michael Rowland (link).

Now, I know that my readers are all too familiar with the realisation that one ought to take anything stated by a politician with a grain of salt, even more so in the current age of brand mentality over genuine governance. I offer the following largely just as evidence of this. No-one is claiming to be “keeping the bastards honest” nowadays and so it is dependent on the voter to demonstrate no confidence in hype.

Hockey stated the following in regards to the recent Reserve Bank’s drop in interest rates;

“…this is not a policy decision that is made because the economy is doing well, and just ask retailers, just ask the tourist industry, just ask the manufacturers and unemployment is one of the great challenges here. Rising unemployment. Because over the next few months, it is an expectation that unemployment is going to continue to rise and we left Labour with a 4% unemployment rate and somehow they think that 5.5% is just dandy…”

I wouldn’t say it is ingenious spin, but the man indeed has his talents.

Think about it; why did he choose to highlight retail, tourism and manufacture?

All three do poorly when the Australian dollar is high. Why is the Australian dollar high? It isn’t due to poor planning on the part of Labour, but, in this case because the major economies around the globe have been struggling since the start of the global financial crisis, back in 2007. Australian goods and services are more expensive because the Australian economy is relatively strong compared to the US and the EU.

In the interview Joe Hockey in fact turns a success story – that Labour largely navigated Australia through a very difficult economic period fairly well (compared to the rest of the world) – into a failing. Evidence that you needn’t lie to mislead.

Taking into account the difficulties addressed above for retail, tourism and manufacturing, it is actually pretty amazing that the unemployment rate isn’t far higher, especially when it is becoming a daily event to hear of yet another Aussie factory closing up or going into receivership. Again, under the global economic pressures, local shifts towards primary industries (especially mining) and the industrial tax reforms that the Coalition assured us would lead to mass job loss – both the mining tax and carbon tax – that the unemployment rate has only increased from 4% to 5.5% is, in all respects, a success story.

On that, I would like to hear more people holding Tony Abbott up against his continual scaremongering on both taxes which has not come to fruition. Clearly, it was hype to scare votes out of the public. By all measures, he should have lost all credibility for his powers of foresight regarding reforms. His aptitude as potential Prime Minister should be under review by the voters.

I have made it clear on New Anthro that I have little respect for the political climate within Australia (see here for instance). They spend far too much time puffing themselves up like a flock of peacocks. Values have been substituted for sugary packages and “lesser evil” branding. Hockey demonstrated this same spin in his interview this morning.

I would like to see our politicians able to recognise successes of their opposition and instead fight on strongly held party specific values. Both sides, after all, are presumably focused on improving the lives of the average Australian. They share a common goal. What they needn’t share is how that is expressed, based upon party ideologies. Nothing is concrete in such a field, what works today made not work tomorrow. For that reason, it is reasonable that a political arena fought on such grounds will promote greater party confidence from the general public.

I suspect that the branding mentality of politicians in the recent generations results from a lack of confidence in either ideological package provided. Both have become outdated and instead have turned towards branding; under which the same item is being sold.

It is for this reason I feel the Greens have reluctantly gained support – at least they stand for something recognisable.

Labour and the Coalition do not need a face lift, but rather to evolve to a changing world. Only we, the voters, can influence this change in political culture. The way to do it is to keep the bastards honest; make their political ideology clear. Do not stand for nonsensical spin.

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