Plays in Australian politics: political football or playing a blinder?


Julia Gillard has played a blinder, as they say in the world of soccer, running a Bait on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on when to introduce new legislation for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) into Parliament.

Abbott v Gillard003

By initially declaring that she would introduce the legislation only if she won the forthcoming general election, in effect making the legislation a political play, she knew she couldn’t lose. Even in loss (the consensus) she knew that the Opposition, once elected, would still likely introduce the same or similar legislation, leaving her confident that those actually in need would ultimately not be disappointed.

Although a high-risk play, her Bait play, on this occasion, managed these risks.

Tony Abbott of course found himself boxed in. His only real play option was to run a Pass, in which he countered with the demand that the legislation be brought in during the current Parliament. He knew that he couldn’t ever abandon the scheme and he knew that he couldn’t win this political play from Gillard.

Sure enough, Gillard counted with a Challenge: guarantee support, and she would bring the legislation forward.

Abbott has essentially agreed to do so, running a Label to the effect that the levy (the means by which Gillard proposes to fund the NDIS) is required only until the budget is back in surplus, which it will be under an Abbott-led government, and that the levy is a consequence of the government’s economic incompetence.

His Label is stronger than a Deflect (the evasion of another player’s query or attack to avoid or minimize its thrust) or a Red Herring (the luring of a player away from its preferred position or plan) but only just.

A cynical play from the PM? That depends on your political position. But politics it is, and we would be naive to assume she would not want to maximize the playcalling options at her disposal.

Watch out in the next few weeks for some Recast plays from both of these players.

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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