Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Dawn of a new political era

By Mark Bahnisch - posted Tuesday, 24 August 2010

We live in interesting times.

What will be most interesting over the next few days and weeks will be whether the Australian commentary machine's momentum finally switches - an actual event has occurred, but the minute by minute "analysis" powers on, and the perpetual tweeting favours noise over signal.

The actual meaning of this historic federal election lies in a much broader context, both temporally and spatially.


We've seen 21st century politics finally wash over insular Australian shores.

The style of campaigning that characterised both the Labor and Coalition efforts is the final refinement of modernist politics - relentless micro-targeting of demographics, an obsession about message clarity and control.

There's the search for an illusory centre - in Labor's case, by trying to co-opt an imaginary voter living somewhere in Western Sydney or regional Queensland, in the case of the Liberals by summoning up a phantasm of the "real Australian".

Yet all the while, the tectonic plates of change have been moving at a slower pace, just as they have in America and Great Britain.

We've entered the world of a new politics.

Over the longer term, this election is a logical consequence of a political shift which predated Kevin07. The dumping of the ETS by Labor earlier this year is a key marker. Much of the rest is noise.


We will never know if Labor could have won this election had Kevin Rudd remained leader. It comes down to whether he would have been able to redeem the mistakes he himself made. Those mistakes were compounded by Julia Gillard's subsequent adoption of the same underlying political logic - a certain pattern of media cycle politics which has destroyed Labor in New South Wales and Queensland caught up with its architects in those two states, giving us two different outcomes in Eastern Australian north and south of the Victorian border.

Recriminations there will no doubt be, but amongst the flood tide of commentary on election night 2010, Maxine McKew's remarks were closest to the truth.

The ALP won in 2007 by harnessing a sentiment in favour of a conviction politics, manifest in the issue of climate change, whose twists and turns have destroyed at least three leaders of both Labor and the Coalition since November 24, 2007. Machine politics as usual, and a fear of the polls and the media noise machine have reaped a horrific harvest for Labor.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

First published in ABC's The Drum on August 23, 2010.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

14 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Dr Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development. He founded the leading public affairs blog, Larvatus Prodeo.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Mark Bahnisch

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 14 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy