Plays in Australian politics: high-stakes plays on camera

This morning’s Channel 7 Sunrise segment featuring Joe Hockey and Kevin Rudd also featured a panoply of political plays both tactical and strategic.


No surprises there. But let’s analyse the plays each ran during the segment using the Playmaker System and the Playmaker Standard Table of Influence.

Hockey ran a number of plays: what looked like a Fiat, a Challenge and a Bait.

Was was his declaration that the Liberal/National Coalition would call a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Julia Gillard when Parliament returns a Fiat? Was it a simple declaration of intent?

Not really, because lurking behind it is the hidden Bait, that Gillard will have to call an early election should she lose the confidence vote, and the Challenge that she would inevitably have to alter her position and preferred actions and lose control.

Hockey knows, as does Gillard, that without the vote of no-confidence, the Coalition can’t force the issue, and Gillard is neither compelled to call an early election, nor would she seek to do so unless it was very much on her own terms.

But by running the Bait/Challenge, Hockey gains a higher reward for the risk, and the Challenge is also a low-risk Play as well. (You can see how Plays fair on the risk-reward matrix by taking a look at the Glossary of Plays.)

Kevin Rudd countered this one-two, Challenge-Bait play from Hockey with his own Mirror, countering with the position that the opposition seeks an early election to minimize exposure (as Rudd put it ) to its lack of policy detail, especially in the area of economic policy. The Mirror was a much stronger play than either a Pass (simply ignoring the challenge from Hockey) or a Pause (waiting to respond).

Rudd initiated a number of Challenges of his own, calling for Hockey and the Liberal/National Coalition to release more details on its policies, demanding that Hockey explain what his part planned to tax, fund and cut should it be elected. Hockey ran a Deflect in response, essentially ignoring the point.

And so the badinage and banter crisscrossed the desk.

So what were the deeper plays behind the tactical ones?

For Hockey and the Coalition, it’s Labelling (high reward, reasonably high risk) Julia Gillard a Prime Minister without confidence, and running a Call Out (not without risk) against her personally and the government she leads, deploying mockery and moral indignation against here.

For Rudd, it’s a similar story: running Labels and Call Outs, both against the Coalition’s lack of detail on economic policy.

In running the same plays on each other, inevitably they both ended up in a dead-heat. Neither won the mini-debate. Options for both players included running  Bear Hug (“so what’s your point?”) , which indeed Julia Gillard has done many times successfully, or a Mirror, in which counter-positions and alternative facts are presented in a play that turns the tables.

Watch this space for more of the same, I suspect, over the coming weeks.

About alansmithoz

Head of Strategic Business Communications at Australian social analytics technology company Digivizer, with a background in corporate public relations and marketing. I do what I do because I believe communications can make a difference.
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