The Federal Election 2007 - Review


Well, we now live in the land of the new Labor Government. And I have to say, I really haven't noticed even a shred of difference.

The whole campaign reminded me a lot of the film Anchorman. John Howard was the best newsreader in town, seemingly on an unstoppable rampage. Then all of a sudden, along came a new newsreader with plenty of ambition and catchy slogans, and managed to topple him off his throne. You had Malcolm Turnbull as Brian Fantana - the arrogant and attempted stylish one of the group who can't quite figure out what the big issues really are.

There was Wayne Swan as Brick Tamland, someone who you were always amazed that they could actually string two words together. There was Bob Brown as Wes Mantouth, the rival news network anchor who thought they were a big fish in the pond when really they had no talent at all. Peter Garrett and Tony Abbott both took the role of Champ Kind - always says things enthusiastically but gets 90% of them wrong, says inappropriate things with alarming regularity, and also harbours secret love feelings for his boss. There was Nicole Cornes as the motorcyclist, the person who at the end of the film has the highest chance of never actually working anywhere ever again.

Lastly there was Baxter, Ron's loyal dog. I was debating who to appoint this role to until I remembered Mal Brough. Someone who lovingly followed his leader round to the bitter end and was ultimately thrown off a bridge. However, the similarities didn't stop there.

What makes Anchorman such a classic movie is how quotable it is. It is without a doubt most famous for all its one liners. Lines such as "The Gun Show" and "60% of the time it works every time" are quoted all over the world. Like the movie, this was a very quotable campaign - although not for any good reasons whatsoever.

By the end of the campaign, if I heard anyone mention the phrase 'working families', 'plan for the future', 'education revolution', 'Kyoto', 'new leadership' or 'going for growth', I would feel my ears start to bleed. Never before have I seen such a collection of slogans with no actual substance behind them in my entire life, and that's quite a statement seeing as I work in PR.

Ultimately, the winner was always going to be decided by who could stay on message more. Obviously, Labor stayed on message a lot more than the Coalition. Let's look at why.

1: Tony Abbott
He had to be the worst campaigner in the history of electioneering. What an absolute idiot. One invention I wish Channel 9 had applied to the campaign was 'Tony cam'. A 24/7 camera devoted to Tony Abbott and his numerous screw ups. Whether it's turning up 30 minutes late to the Health debate, getting protested in safe Liberal seats, swearing on camera at his political opponent, there was always something going on for Tony. He was without a doubt, the thorn in Howard's crown for the entire campaign.

That's not to say he was without competition from both Peter Garrett and Nicole Cornes from Labor. Tony Jones put it best when he said that Nicole Cornes' campaign was an 'unmitigated disaster'. Hilarious! Peter Garrett also had stuff up after stuff up. Whether it was mentioning how the Labor Government would 'change it all' when they came to power, or how China and the USA didn't need to be part of a future emissions reduction scheme for Australia to sign up, you could always count on Peter to put a furrow in Rudd's brow. Good times.

2: Rudd's fabulous scripts

There's no question that Rudd played the media much better than Howard. Howard was like Ron Burgundy. He thought that people would always listen to him simply because he was Ron Burgundy. He didn't realise that K-Rudd snuck up on him and said all the right things. However, you have to admit that Rudd didn't exactly get pushed very hard on his policy details this campaign.

Every interview he undertook, he seemed to have mastered the art of either a) asking himself questions instead of the journalists asking him anything, or b) completely ignoring the question he was asked, and answering the one he wanted to be asked. He played it perfectly. Every night on the news, Rudd's grabs said the exact same thing. Education revolution; no new ideas; working families; blah blah blah... No detail - just on message.

So, the question then becomes, what should the Libs have done? How could they have won the election against such an on message opponent, and so many screw ups in their own backyard? I have a few suggestions.

1: Gillard demolition

Never before have I seen such an incompetent and annoying politician as Julia Gillard. Whenever she speaks, two things are certain to happen. 1) My ears start to bleed. 2) You can't help but expect a forked tongue to slip out somewhere. In other words, she is a lizard to be exterminated. The Coalition should have focused all their ads on her. Not negatively at all though. They should have bought 30 seconds of air time, and played Julia Gillard's voice. There is no way any sane person would have voted Labor after seeing an ad like that.

2: Swan demolition

On the topic of incompetent politicians, it's Wayne Swan! My friend Steve said it best when he wrote that 'the reason nobody saw Wayne Swan on election night is because he was curled up in his study reading 'Economics for Dummies'". In other words, if the Libs had challenged Swan to give at least two answers on anything to do with the economy, they would've won by 10 seats.

When looking back at the campaign, it is pretty obvious that both sides of politics were all tip and no iceberg. I don't really care that Labor won, and I wouldn't have cared if the Coalition won. Ultimately, this campaign will be remembered for the terrible slogans, and the permanent damage done to my ear drums from listening to Julia Gillard speak.

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The boys from Anchorman ready for battle
Tony Abbott had a campaign he'd rather forget. Although I loved every minute of it
Julia Gillard is arguably the most annoying
politician in the history of western civilisation
Wayne Swan always had trouble using
two syllable words