With the federal election looming, The Bug is proud to present as a semi-regular columnist Van Mandastone (pictured above), former union thug, NSW Labor organiser and a junior assistant minister in the dying days of the second Rudd Government in 2013.
The last election provided all of us with the ultimate world-class example of saying anything in order to win. Forget the truth, just go for the jugular. The LNP’s vicious campaign against Labor’s planned changes to negative gearing on investment properties was spectacular in its effectiveness and undoubtedly helped the Turnbull government just limp back into power.
The fact that it was complete rubbish mattered not one iota to anyone in the LNP. That in itself is worth reflecting on.
It was a quite deliberate deception perpetrated on the Australian public for the purposes of retaining power. It wasn’t a commitment to spend on which alleged budgetary pressures later forced a shameful backdown and another broken promise.
It wasn’t a commitment for which some other circumstances later supposedly prevented delivery. It wasn’t an assertion that this or that interest group are under threat.
It was an assertion that all of us would be attacked and undermined. It was a straight-out allegation that the other side are going to pull the safety net out from under the trapeze.
It’s the stuff that genuinely scares people.
Home ownership – or indeed the dream of it – is vitally important to all of us. Low and middle income families, especially with kids, were frightened by the LNP’s scare that Australia’s residential property marketplace would be a smouldering, post-apocalyptic landscape should Labor win.
That residential properties across the nation would lose much of their value wasn’t a half-hearted “boo” from behind a corner such as kids might make.
This was an all-out intentional, frighten-the-pants off you campaign. It was on TV, on social media and in leaflets at railway stations.
As best I can tell everyone in the LNP thought this a great trick. Not one of them gave a hoot about this big lie at the time. None of them have shown any embarrassment since.
I know and like a few of the LNP members and I feel oddly sorry for them because they will never be able to wipe that slate clean.
No-one on my side of politics was the least bit amazed at the time that the LNP received so many free kicks from the Australian media for their negative gearing scare campaign.
I expect the same when this big, big lie is once again centre stage in the 2019 federal campaign.
There’s an old saying that if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one. People generally think that you wouldn’t possibly try on such a big lie because you would get caught out and thus they think there must be something in what you say. And at the same time a big lie is often hard to disprove.
As we approach the next election we should therefore be on the lookout for the next big LNP lie.
Maybe now would be a good time to write some rubbish about the importance in politics of not being distracted and staying on message.
To observe that saying something’s a lie makes limp lettuce look like a baseball bat. It’s like, in war, staying focused on your forward target target when there’s a nuclear warhead focused on your own backside.
Fucked if I know why I just said those things. Absolute gibberish. Let’s get back to reality.
Economic management will also be a big issue at the election. Voters are not stupid. You don’t have to read the Financial Review every day to understand that there are some dark clouds internationally that could affect us in a big way.
No doubt the LNP will continue chanting their mantra that only they can deal with these looming dark economic clouds. Heck, they say it so often I think the poor pets actually believe they run economies better.
But what is the reality under a returned LNP government? In tough economic times the so-called rich might have to sell shares or lose their beach house. Boo hoo. The rich will want to keep their franking credits that they haven’t worked for and the working poor will not get back their weekend penalty rates that they did work for.
Less economically-lucky people lose their job and maybe their house. That’s why the economy is so important to Labor. It’s about people, their jobs, houses and families. When the economy goes belly up, the less fortunate may not lose the most in dollars but they certainly do in terms of their lives.
So with a government that’s blown out government debt to billy-o, a risible claim that the budget is heading to black and even if it is, the government’s had fuck-all to do with it, wages stagnating and an economy faltering with more and more part-time and casual jobs, voters will weigh up carefully about the urgent need for this nation to change course.
EDITOR’S COMMENT: It has been brought to this publication’s attention that Mr Mandastone’s column has certain similarities to one penned by former Howard government minister Amanda Vanstone for the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week.
Mr Mandastone denies any claim of plagiarism and has The Bug‘s full support.
Nevertheless, a full investigation into these allegations will be conducted as this publication will have absolutely nothing to do with the risible drivel that often spews forth from the lips or the typing fingers of Amanda Vanstone.