Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tony Abbott, Hard Hats, Impotence and Snake Oil salesmen

When a politician hasn't got anything useful to say, the verbiage and the word games start.

Come on down Tony Abbott and show us how the game is played with Labor close to snake oil salesmen spin. First, since you want to do well with a hand of lay down misere, how about you lead with the two of spades?

The most revealing parliamentary moment this week was the prime minister’s reference to the opposition understanding in their “hard of hats”.

He’d meant, of course, “heart of hearts” but he clearly had hard hats on his mind.

Chortle, whiz lead. All that talk of construction and all that talk of Liberals rocking up to sod turning ceremonies for works they voted against starting to get to you Tony?

It’s no wonder because Labor MPs can’t open their mouths without talking about “35,000 building sites” and parliament is virtually the only place (other than coming out of church) where the PM can be photographed without helmet and safety vest.

Ah well, never mind, prerogative of government, and all that stuff, a side benefit of getting out the credit card and bankrupting the nation. A lifestyle enjoyed by the Liberals for a decade, as they built the nation splendid infrastructure, on the back of the mining boom, and never once worried, not a whit or a jot, about buying votes with blatant middle class welfare.

But still, you need something a little bit more punchy. Some kind of jab, of the kind they used to show in Yes Minister.

These days, it seems, politics is all about imagery and spin. The ABC’s Hollowmen series is not a skit but an instruction manual.

These days? It suddenly became imagery and spin when Chairman Rudd took the stage? That's an almost defamatory attack on masters of spin from the past, from Billy Hughes to Hawke to Howard.

How many of Labor’s announced infrastructure projects, such as the broadband rollout, are likely to happen any time soon? How many of them, such as the highway projects, are new rather than the forward programme of the former government for which Labor is now claiming credit? And how many of them are good value, such as the school projects which could have been done much more cheaply by the local builder?

Well how many? Instead of the rhetoric, why not demolish the buggers with some hard core statistics, and some fancy footwork telling us how to save money?

Right, it's all too hard, so let's pick a nice easy patsy, the worst state government in Australia.

The NSW ALP has perfected the daily announcement strategy. It’s designed to create the impression of a government ceaselessly working to deliver an even better life for its citizens. Over the past 15 years, for instance, the NSW government has announced $28 billion worth of rail projects that have never gone beyond pipe dream stage. For a long time, voters gave Labor the benefit of the doubt.

Ah, at last we can agree, at last we have something in common. But apart from rail, what else could you say about the NSW government's ineptitude? I could think of a dozen examples right off the top of my hard hat:

Now, of course, NSW government announcements are about as credible as claims that “nasal delivery technology” can cure impotence.

A cheap bloody joke about a wonderful medical miracle (and instead of making the joke, why aren't you calling for an inquiry into the cure?)

Ah, to be sure, we're back with imagery and spin, and so quickly my head whirled. One actual jab that landed, and the rest of the blog dedicated to a few easy jokes and a few cheap thrills. Can we have one last metaphor to establish that we really are in the land of spinmeistering?

Is Mr Rudd going down this path? I hope not because the national government is too important to be taken over by snake oil salesmen.

No silly, he's going down the path to the Whitlam years. For god's sake, read the song sheet and stay with the right words. 

Snake oil salesman? But I've already made a solid purchase from a couple of shady snake oil salesmen. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, John Howard and Peter Costello, and they were peddling Telstra shares. 

Perhaps they should have been pushing the nasal spray. Didn't it work for ugly Dave Gray and Ian Turpie? Oh that's right, it didn't, Turpie told a porkies about it curing his impotence. (Turpie admits ad misleading). 

Well guess it's back to the snake oil. But remember when one snake oil salesman calls another snake oil salesman a snake oil salesman, all you establish with the electorate is that they're in the same game as a bunch of name calling snake oil salesmen ...

Yep, politics and politicians, same as it ever was ...

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