It’s easy to get the feeling from the Liberal campaign so far that there is a whole stack of ads and ideas they had prepared to use against Rudd that they are now desperately having to recycle for Gillard. This ad pretty well sums it up; a few morph tricks but otherwise running all the same old stuff that they were going to use for Rudd – debt, home insulation, waste in education etc.

However, by saying it’s simply more of the same, the ad glides over the implications of the change of leadership. As a result, it misses the central point; the dumping was very much part of the loss of control in the government that allowed the positives of the stimulus to become portrayed as negatives. In short, this is a fairly ordinary ad to respond to an extraordinary situation.

Just how extraordinary is shown by one of Labor’s first ads. The first thing that is noticeable is that Gillard appears a little stiff and awkward, slightly turned away from the camera as though she is sitting for a studio portrait, rather than sitting relaxed on a table or leaning against a post in rural Queensland as Labor set Rudd in the last election. There is little of Gillard’s personable quality that is coming across on the news bulletins of the campaign. Instead a rather odd coy twist of the head at the end in an attempt to appeal to the viewers. In the little time she has been given, Gillard is charged with having to sit up straight and be a Prime Minister, while at the same time ‘reconnect’ with the electorate.

The awkwardness of this comes out in what she is saying. For Labor’s ad may look positive, but it is actually an attack ad – against a Labor government, with a special tone given to “not a Big Australia” as if to say “and all that silliness”. It is certainly not an attack ad against the Liberals, far from it. Border protection, budget surplus and solar renewables (no ETS) – Abbott wouldn’t have a problem with any of it.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 21 July 2010.

Filed under Tactics

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15 responses to “Ad Watch – It’s the same Labor; Let’s move Australia forward together”

  1. Al on 21st July 2010 10:34 am

    I don’t think there’s any credible defending of the ‘Moving Forward’ slogan, the way Julia used it in THAT speech. Highly irritating / insulting if you’re of average intelligence, or above … to be spoken to like a bunch of half-wits. Well, I suppose half the population IS below average intelligence … they’re the ‘target audience’?

    At least the ‘Abbott Family’ ad is amusing !

    By the way, I know he is retiring, but the way Lindsay Tanner has totally disappeared off the radar lately … AMAZING to me, given the high profile he had under Rudd. Seems he doesn’t want to contribute to his new boss’s re-election chances (?).. no tv appearances, haven’t heard anything from him lately …..

    In my opinion, he’s a major loss, should have been treasurer, maybe should have been PM (one day).

  2. john on 21st July 2010 11:07 am

    Gillard and Tanner have always been enemies. He blocked her preselection twice, and under her he’d be almost powerless. Probably contributed to his decision to retire.

  3. Scott on 21st July 2010 11:09 am

    People are banging on about how extraordinary this campaign is because of the circumstances that led to it but I think all federal campaigns have been extraordinary for different reasons since 2001. Politics and the electorate have been sliding to the lowest common demoninator ever since 2001 and what’s amazing is that the demoninator keeps getting astonishingly lower. By 2013, at this rate, election campaigns will look like five weekly episodes of ‘It’s A Knock Out’.

  4. Rick on 21st July 2010 12:36 pm

    “Border protection, budget surplus and solar renewables (no ETS) – Abbott wouldn’t have a problem with any of it.” Spot on, Shrike.

    And not only does the “moving forward” slogan insult our intelligence, but it’s also inaccurate. “Going forward” is the correct expression in vacuous leadership parlance.

    So, apart from moving Australia forward, why did Gillard become PM? I doubt we will see any ad that answers that question. Thankfully, Shrike, we have your blog to fill the gap!

    P/s – Scott – Your ‘It’s a Knock Out’ prediction isn’t far away: Abbott will be on Hey Hey/Red Faces tonight.

  5. MG on 22nd July 2010 5:51 pm

    I am disappointed that there are no new ideas at all – how silly of me to expect it. Atleast the previous PM was a ball of energy whereas I feel Julia Gillard is just taking it easy or too scared to be to be too active.

    In any case it is such a boring election unlike 2007.

  6. The Piping Shrike on 22nd July 2010 6:13 pm

    Both leaders are terrified that their problems will emerge. Labor is being very lucky at the moment.

  7. Graeme on 22nd July 2010 11:48 pm

    Shrike: you strike me as an internationalist, if so I can understand a fondness for Rudd. And you better than most diagnose a brokenness in the 2-party system: Emperors barely clad n all that, whilst the media keeps up the Left v Right dichotomy.

    From memory in 2007 you repeatedly questioned why people doubted the veracity of Labor’s 56% TPP polling. Electoral realities belied that: 52.6 or so.

    Rudd didn’t just lose it because of Copenhagen, or even simulus waste. He lost it because he was always pretending at politics; an unnatural presentation. Abbott does bellicosity well because it’s in his DNA and he’s had decades to refine it.

    Gillard, well, I’ve taught too many young lawyers turning social justice inclinations into a political career. And she’s genuinely the product of her narrow but normal Little Britain roots (cf Rudd, who feigned to project his Eumundi childhood in political ads and phoney folkspeak, when from age 15 he deliberately fled that, in books and Mandarin and ANU and diplomacy and…) But she is an extraordinary politician in the traditional sense of the word: rhetoric, charm, ability to listen, engage, cohere. Forget Hawke, Clinton is a better analogy.

  8. Graeme on 23rd July 2010 9:16 am

    Latham’s extended piece in today’s AFR Review, on Labor’s factions and baselessness, and the media, will interest. Notmuch descriptively to disagree with (aside from Latham stripping 50 years from Roberto ‘Iron Law of Oligarchy’ Michels).

    The difficulty is conceiving what – normatively and structurally – ought fill the void. Latham offers no answers; indeed in the same piece he demands disassociation from the union based leadership yet valorises a Chifley speech that decried any MP or leader who tried to act independently, the sin to ‘not be prepared to obey the main body of the union movement’.

  9. Ricc on 23rd July 2010 9:27 am

    had to love a comment in fairfax about the “Citizens Assembly” rubbish that JG has been pushing.

    The commenter said that the ALP is doing what Saddam Hussein did in Iraq in 1991, placing a ‘human shield’ between its incompetence and the wrath of the electorate.

  10. Ricc on 23rd July 2010 9:38 am

    Graeme, I agree about Rudd and his leaving Eumundi etc.

    Reality is the only real personal driver I can see for Rudd in the whole 2.5 years of his having the gig, is the possibility of welding together international consensus on issues like Asian economic and political development, global warming etc.

    I suspect the Australian stage is too small and inward focussed for that.

    If he does get a UN gig it may seem less important to local Australian commentators, but I’m sure for Rudd himself it will put him where he wants to be.

    Especially if he gets a Stephen Smith style token foreign ministry with DFAT as his private secretariat for that.

    Having done the expat thing myself I can see when Australian affairs start looking trivial.

    Have to laugh too at how the media are quickly resusitating Mark Latham for the fight. How quickly it’s forgotten.

  11. Ricc on 23rd July 2010 9:41 am

    Shrike, I’m wondering if you also feel this nonsense of having Hawke, Keating, Latham and even Rudd in the media is just shadow boxing for current political theatre.

    These former leaders merely being caricatures that different parts of the ALP invoke for effect.

    I find it quite amusing that people don’t actually want a 2010 election; they seem to want to relive old ones – with 2004, 2001, 1990 and 1984 looking like favorites at the moment.

  12. The Piping Shrike on 23rd July 2010 12:16 pm

    What interested me about Rudd was his anti-political stance rather than his international angle. The international angle is what I think is always missing when commentators look to explain Australian politics, the most absurd example is the air-brushing of 9/11 from the 2001 election.

    I see no reason why the 56-58% polling Rudd was acheiving during 2007 (or 2009) was not credible at the time the poll was taken. As I mentioned at the time, the polls narrowed during the 2007 campaign because of what I saw as a lacklustre Labor campaign that was more like Beazley’s than Rudd’s.

    This time Labor starts out in a less strong position (50-55 depending which poll you want to look at), which again I see no reason to doubt and which should still be comfortable enough based on past experience of governments approaching election (as it was under Rudd). The trouble is that by sacking Rudd, Labor has not only damaged the benefit of incumbency but has exposed the problem that actually existed under Rudd, it doesn’t stand for anything.

    Gillard has a lot of attributes, which I have mentioned before. In fact I think she has often been under-estimated and trivialised. But she has emerged to the leadership under less than favourable circumstances, in my view. Maybe it was unavoidable, but that’s the situation. She is caught up in a party that has lost contact with the electorate and sees it more through its own fears than reality.

    Fortunately for Labor the Libs are in a far weaker position than 2007 and are self obsessed enough not to get Labor’s weakness, but they are getting close. Everytime they talk about ‘stability’ they are making an important point the media is missing.

  13. Lynchpin on 23rd July 2010 3:04 pm


    Love your work. I have noticed though that you seem to have lost some drive since Rudd’s demise. I notice your comment about the ALP having lost contact with the electorate. Do you hold that same view of the other parties (including the Greens)? What to do? I think many of the problems the parties now face have to do with the concentration of the media. The electoral cycle is short. Politicians are at the mercy of polls, the main stream media, media advisers. The old days of Labor vs Liberal, based on how your parents brought you up or what religion you were, are gone. I am not sure what has replaced it. I still discern a difference in values between the two parties; but really, many of those values began to be watered down (at least on the ALP side) under Hawke and Keating (as much as I loved them) and de-regulation. The ALP was always scared of being seen as tarnished with Whitlamism – hence its move to the right. I vote ALP because my father did and I remember 1975 with a passion. What to do?

  14. The Piping Shrike on 23rd July 2010 11:03 pm

    I’m actually very motivated at the moment! I would say that Labor’s detachment is replicated across the spectrum. I don’t think it’s a media problem, media sources are far more diverse than they were forty or fifty years ago. What we have seen is that the media are almost taking the place of the electorate for these detached political parties.

    As to what to do, it’s not a question I want to pursue here. I know this annoys some of the readers but I believe we have too many “activist blogs” that are really just based on the same old prejudices and invariably come up with the same old crap. I just want to work through and understand what is going on.

    If I’m a bit hesitant right now, it’s because unlike everyone else, it seems, I think things are now changing very rapidly following Rudd’s dumping.

  15. Stephen Holt on 30th July 2010 1:41 pm

    I find the border protection advert quite amusing,last time i read the paper or saw footage on TV of illegal immigrants being arrested was by either a Customs patrol boat or a Navy patrol boat. Not once in the time that I served in the RAN did a minesweeper boat have any thing to do with the apprehension of boat people. I wonder how many in the Labour Party know what a Patrol Boat actually looks like and if they know where Ashmore Reef is. I some how think not

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