Media management – the Labor way

Ah, those Labor true believers: they’re a funny bunch, eh? They rail against their opponents, accusing them of mindless sloganeering and having no substance. The Labor rants are predicated on the ALP occupying the high moral ground. But then along comes a day like yesterday and they are exposed for all their tawdry tricks.

As anyone who has the slightest interest in news would be aware, a scandal engulfed one of the nation’s more popular sports, rugby league. It was a sensational development and one of the biggest stories to hit the airwaves for decades. The perfect time for Labor spinmeisters to slither out from under. And slither, they did!

She with the penchant for slinky black dresses and foxy poses (all in a good cause, of course) – Rudd’s Child Care Minister, Kate Ellis – made an announcement. Yes, it was an admission of yet another Rudd broken promise so not the thing to reveal on a slow news day, eh? Nah, let it get buried when all attention is focussed elsewhere.

And so it was that with a light heart and a heavy purse, Ellis announced that Labor will not proceed to build an additional 260 childcare centres across the nation. Indeed, it will even halt work on 38 centres already started. Well, they’ve got to pay for that botched ceiling insulation business, don’t they? Nice try, guys! But with every young family in the nation utterly attuned to child care nuances, this was a story that was never going to be buried. Rugby league has its followers but they number nothing like child care aficionados.

Nor did Labor stop with that one (there are just too many bad stories emanating from this administration to miss such a good opportunity). So it was that the eternally-pleasant Minister for Cleaning-up After, Greg Combet, was forced to deliver another bucket of swill. This was the news that the insulation scheme was to be axed. Completely. Utterly. It was as if Kevin Rudd had not said so many times on national television: “I get it. We will fix this. It’s okay, I get it”.  Hmmm . . .

Mind you, there was a silver lining to this cloud. At least it has halted deaths at four and house fires at 180-plus. We can be grateful for that. Mind you, the wash-up will be a good number of bankruptcies and sackings but they are not likely to be tallied-up so the record sheet will look much better.

Interesting, too, that Labor indulged in more media management (or just ham-fistedness to call it correctly) by refusing to release to journalists before the Combet media grilling, the report which damned the insulation scheme for all eternity. A poor attempt to deny media the chance to ask really probing questions on the issue.

But it was fascinating that even the ABC (not unknown for an occasional mild preference for Labor’s view of the world) thundered that if Labor thought this was a clever approach to media management they should think again. Stay tuned for further questioning which may move the NRL back into the shade somewhat.