Ad watch – Queensland: Nuclear the next

Thursday, 20 September 2007 

Julia Gillard warned last weekend of the ‘mother of all scare campaigns’ from the government in the coming election. This is a sensible tactic as it turns whatever the government says into a political ploy. But the government already has difficulty in creating a scare campaign in the first place. The thought of what Labor might do is tempered nowadays by the view that governments of any persuasion can do very little.

An interest rate scare, for example, is likely to be much less effective this time because of a change in the way economics is talked about. Nowadays, government is seen to have little control over the economy, it being largely in the hands of the Reserve Bank and global markets. The thought that any Australian government can provide a ‘safe pair of hands’, as Howard is now claiming, against the current turbulence in the global markets is unlikely to have much resonance these days.

In fact the impotence of government plays much more into Labor’s scare campaigns and underpins the effectiveness of the Queensland nuclear ad. It plays on a deep pervasive fear that if complex and risky technology like nuclear power is developed, government will be unable to control its safety and prevent something horrific. This is the meat in environmental issues nowadays compared to a time when it used to be about little more than preserving natural beauty spots like the Franklin gorge. Environmental doom-laden scenarios imply impotence in the face of threats to our survival. That is why there has been no reappraisal of the risks of nuclear technology as there logically should be in the face of global warming, the mother of all doom scenarios, and a scare campaign that Labor well and truly owns.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Thursday, 20 September 2007.

Filed under Tactics

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