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Group think politics: while the bemused look on ...

By Brian Holden - posted Monday, 16 August 2010

A good education sets up Australia’s children for a rewarding life, while helping us to build a high productivity, high participation economy that can give all Australians the opportunity of rewarding and satisfying work.

Why did Julia Gillard say something which was a self-evident truth and blindly obvious to everyone? It was because she wants us to associate her with good thoughts. Then immediately after being softened up by the good thoughts we get the rubbish - her education policies.

Let’s go back to the morning of June 24, 2010. Within seconds of facing the nation as prime minister, and with cameras and microphones waiting, Gillard’s spin was launched. With shoulders back and chest forward, she stood ramrod straight at the lectern and looked out at her audience with the stony expression of a born commander. “I stand for government of the people, by the people and for the people.”


She was invoking a line which was said on a bloody battlefield when the future of a great nation was at its most historic turning point. Mercifully, Gillard did not finish off with Abraham Lincoln’s: “shall not perish from the face of the Earth.” That would have been a bit too much theatre for anybody to take.

The objective of the politicians currently campaigning in this country is to either appease or make anxious a general population which is so self-absorbed as to be almost disconnected from the planet.

How disconnected?

Just one example:

In this country we pay about $1.80 a tonne for unpolluted drinking grade water. A speculated price “slug” of 20 per cent on our water bill was recently an issue for the tabloids.

In Nepal I watched a woman carry on her head a 10 litre metal bottle of polluted water up a long and very steep hill to her family. That was their supply until she does the trip again the next day. The average annual income for an Australian is 320 times more than it is for an average Nepalese.

And yet we were informed that “ordinary” Australians are to be victims of another arrogant and heartless grab at their money. That’s the intellectual level of the readership that the media sells its message to and the intellectual level of the electorate Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are attempting to sell their messages to.


A two-pronged strategy

The strategy is two-pronged. One prong is to keep claiming that the other side is in chaos. This is done over and over during the term of government so as to elicit a conditioned response - just as Dr Pavlov did to his dogs. That continues through the campaigning. The other is introduced into the campaigning. This is to paint a glowing picture of what life will be under the government of the party being spruiked.

The public-at-large does not ask why Julia Gillard’s policies on such basics as health and education, which are plainly so good, were not implemented many months ago. They don’t deduce that a policy grabbed out of the air only days before an election is the fantasy required for the occasion.

One would think that election promises would have lost all credibility long ago. But the promises flow-on at election time because our politicians are aware of the size of the electorate’s radius of vision. And the whole business of the media is also built on an awareness of the average person’s radius of vision.

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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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