Well, the election is over and the result has been a disaster for most people in Australia. The wealthy will do quite nicely out of it with their franking credit refunds and their tax cuts, while their corporations will continue to thrive on government largesse as they donate a proportion of that largesse to the Liberal and National parties. This is the elaborate money-laundering scam of modern neoliberal Australia. Members of the Coalition parties will also continue to feather their own nests, all at our expense. To me, the thing which epitomised this election campaign was a row of corflutes just up the road from where I live. These were in black and white and said things such as ‘Labor will tax your retirement’, ‘Labor will tax your car’, ‘Labor will tax your home’, and ‘Labor will tax you to death’. While I paid little attention to them, because I knew they were lies, they did make me worry that enough people who do not read or are gullible enough to believe such lies, may be frightened enough think these were real concerns. This is apparently what happened.
These corflutes were just the tip of the iceberg of lies perpetrated by the coalition. There are anecdotes of people believing that: Labor would take their cars from them; Labor was going to casualise their jobs; Labor was going to cut their pension; Labor was going to persecute them for their religion; Labor was going to kill babies; Labor was going to allow full-term abortions; Labor was going to destroy the economy in the name of dealing with climate change; and Adani would provide ten thousand jobs. Of course, all of these were lies too.
As far as I can see, the problem Labor had was that it tried to explain things to people who are incapable of comprehending such explanations. The franking credit refund story is so abstruse, so divorced from most people’s everyday life, that it took me a little while to actually find out how it worked. The Coalition called it a ‘retiree tax’, and your average ignoramus presumably thought ‘Jeez; I’m a retiree and Labor are going to tax me more’. It was an election strategy which clearly worked on people who were incapable of understanding the complexities of the policy. Indeed, even some people in the media could not understand it or did not want to. How does a political party counter such an election strategy? Firstly, by developing policies clearly directed at benefiting the ignorant, and keeping them simple so the ignorant can understand them. Secondly, developing a suite of epithets and lies of your own. It is an appalling situation in which Australia’s rapidly failing democracy finds itself. However, it will get worse.