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By Richard Stanton - posted Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard took their carbon tax battle a great distance from the centre.

One went one way the other in the opposite direction and among the smoke and noise of battle they lost sight of and consciously abandoned any long term goals that might have resonated with the majority occupying the middle ground.

Can either recover, regroup and attempt to regain the support and votes of the majority in the middle? Probably not but they seem to think it's worth a shot.


The carbon/energy communication campaigns of both sides of politics were poorly executed.

They created a public perception of the image of both sides as untrustworthy. They ended with diminished reputations. And the majority of the public remain disillusioned and angry.

Tony Abbott's opposition campaign and Julia Gillard's advocacy campaign failed a number of simple tests of effectiveness not least of which was the sad level of information from both sides.

Both sides were so busy trying to score elementary points and both were so busy with mediated spinning they lost sight of long term public policy goals and objectives.

A knock-on effect of their battle was the abandoning of the middle ground.

A week or so back the Economist newspaper published a leader lamenting the loss of the middle in American politics.


Its front cover image was the space between the halves of a hamburger bun with the caption…the woeful gap in America's politics.

The same can be said for Australia. When Julia Gillard hurtled to the left to embrace the Greens, and Tony Abbott strode manfully to the right to show who was boss, the centre, to paraphrase Yeats, did not hold.

The carbon tax attempted to define clearly the right and left in Australian politics - opponents or advocates - and there was meant to be no middle ground.

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About the Author

Richard Stanton is a political communication writer and media critic. His most recent book is Do What They Like: The Media In The Australian Election Campaign 2010.

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

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