Yesterday’s formal calling of the Australian Federal Election by PM Kevin Rudd sees an end to Labor’s Lemony Snicket period (a series of unfortunate events) and the start of the battle proper.
The early Play of choice from Labor, referring to the Playmaker Standard Table of Influence, is the LANTERN, the pre-emptive disclosure of bad news. We can expect more re-casting of the state of play from Labor over the coming four weeks or so, but the changes to the economy, the turn-down in tax revenues, the likelihood of an increase in unemployment over the coming years, all these and more have been roundly declared by the Labor team for good or ill. Any bad news has been essentially aired (they hope) so that they can now concentrate on new Plays to bolster their resurgent election chances.
The early Play of choice from the Coalition is the RECAST, the reinterpretation of events and facts. In short, Coalition leader Tony Abbott has called Labor’s six years of power a disaster not to be repeated. In his frame of reference the economy has been ruined, not saved; policies tried and abandoned, not flexibly implemented and updated; Australia’s borders have become more porous; the NBN is a waste of money that is late, not an investment for the future. The echoes that reverberate from these RECAST Plays are failure, distrust, incompetence. And that’s without the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd dynamic always lurking in the background.
Of course, with four weeks to go, we can expect Play and counter-Plays to sit alongside the political manoeuvring and, who knows, a policy debate.
The trick for both sides will be to work out which Plays resonate with the voters the most, and the question will be which side has the more effective strategy of Plays and counter-Plays laid out before them.