The Labor party's use of misleading advertising in 2016 came back to bite them in 2019
The Mediscare campaign in 2016 seemed a good idea at the time but it was a gross disortion of the facts. So it legitimated scare campaigns by the coalition in 2019.
The Left never seem able to think ahead. They never think their dirty deals will just lead to them being hit by similar deeds further down the track. Some call it the "Harry Reid" effect -- after "clever" Harry abolished the filibuster and inadvertently gave the USA two very conservative High Court judges
Like many I was surprised by the election result two Saturday’s ago. While for many the double of Scott Morrison winning the prime ministership and Tony Abbott losing his seat was the perfect double, I only expected one of those events to unfold.
Bill Shorten’s loss must be personally devastating for him. I’ve heard that his house was half packed up, ready for the move into The Lodge. I know shadow ministers were organising post election briefings with heads of department, as well as lining up new names to take on such roles after the election. Shorten had already planned the timing and agenda of his first cabinet meeting before counting even started.
Never before has the phrase “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” been more appropriate.
While plenty of Labor die hards are angry at the scare campaign the government mounted, the simple fact is what goes around comes around. And, being frank, if politicians can’t sell their way past a scare campaign, they lack the necessary political skills to succeed.
Yes, labelling the franking credits policy a “retiree tax” was deeply misleading. It only affected four per cent of retirees. Pensioners and part pensioners were excluded. And anyone securing franking credits as part of a self managed super fund could shift their investments into a managed fund and the credits would still do their job.
But Labor failed to cut through with such details, and yes many more people were convinced Labor’s policies would hurt them than was actually the case. The scare campaign hit its mark.
Then there was the scare campaign on death duties. Yes some Labor frontbenchers has written about the virtue of inheritance taxes in the past — such as Andrew Leigh during his time in academia. But it wasn’t Labor policy, had been specifically ruled out by Shorten, and the chances of Labor ever changing their minds and introducing death taxes were zero. Yet the scare campaign persisted.
While I would welcome reforms to ensure truth in political advertising, without them the bottom line is Shorten was hit by a double decker karma bus. Because he launched an equally invalid, misleading and false scare campaign against the government back in 2016. The Mediscare campaign was effective. It almost cost Malcolm Turnbull the election. It certainly reduced his majority. It drew Labor close enough such that Shorten’s campaigning skills were praised and Labor’s performance defied expectations. It meant Anthony Albanese couldn’t challenge the always unpopular Shorten.
What goes around comes around. A Labor scare campaign in 2016 saves Shorten’s leadership and crippled the authority of the then PM in the election’s aftermath. A Liberal scare campaign in 2019 cost Shorten the prime ministership and has sured up Scott Morrison’s authority as PM.
It’s all very unedifying. It’s not conducive to good politicking and good policy making. But I do believe, with or without truth in political advertising reforms, politicians worth their salt should be able to successfully defeat such scare campaigns. If they are good enough, and if their reforms are good enough.
When they can’t they have no one to blame but themselves. Especially when they dabbled in the black arts themselves, just three years earlier.