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May 142013

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 7.03.49 PM (2)It takes a lot for me to make a political comment, or even admit I have a political view. So let’s pretend I’m not. Let’s just look at this little post as an objective review of a piece of advertising.

Today the Liberal government published “The Little Book of Big Labor Waste: 60 examples of waste and mismanagement from the Rudd-Gillard Government”. It’s freely available from the Liberal Party website, so I downloaded a copy.

Well, if the elected government is recklessly misspending taxpayer money, they should be held to account. But is that what this very little book is doing? Let’s look at the first statement from the foreword. I would copy & paste it into my post but the little book is copy-protected. Don’t want to make it too easy to quote from, I suppose.

Right –  “The Rudd-Gillard Government has been the most financially reckless Government in Australian history”. Oooh, that sounds BAD.  But, the InternationalMonetaryFund, who are generally considered to know about these things, don’t quite agree. According to the SMH, an IMF study

identifies only two periods of Australian “fiscal profligacy” in recent years, both during Mr Howard’s term in office – in 2003 at the start of the mining boom and during his final years in office between 2005 and 2007.
The stimulus spending of the Rudd government during the financial crisis does not rate as profligate because the measure makes allowance for spending needed to stabilise the economy.


Well, maybe we can write off the first page as electioneering. It is a propaganda document after all – you can tell by the bright red cover.

But it’s an important accusation  – if a private person was being charged with being reckless, stubborn, panicked, bungling, deceitful and engaging in assassination – you would expect the evidence to be solid and the research to be thorough. I have summarised the little book’s data sources below:

  • Media Releases from Michael Keenan, Christopher Pyne, Jamie Briggs, Luke Hartsuyker, Simon Birmingham, John Cobb, Greg Hunt, Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull, and Tony Abbott
  • The Age
  • The Australian
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Sunday Age
  • The Herald Sun
  • Advertiser
  • Senate Estimates
  • Australian Financial Review
  • Courier Mail
  • Clean Energy Future website
  • Sunday Mail
  • Sunday Telegraph
  • Hobart Mercury

So out of 60 examples, only three reference anything independently verifiable other than a bunch of press releases and newspaper articles. And those references are undated. It’s also puzzling that the earliest example comes from November 2010. Was there nothing worth reporting before then, or did they just not look? If I turned in something like this at work or for a course it would be a sea of red ink. Imagine marking this as a research paper:

  • 01 – Immigration blowout – So how much is this blowout exactly? $6.6 billion (press release), $1.2b (headline) or more than $1 billion (article)?
  • 02 – NBN blowout – $44.1 billion $90 billion or $37.4bn?
  • 03 – Carbon tax advertising – news article (about fake kitchens) has nothing to do with the headline
  • 04 – 60 Oh, stuff it.

Nothing wrong with holding our elected government to account. But this is just bad, lazy work. Shame.


 Posted by at 7:14 pm

  One Response to “The little book who tried (but not very hard)”

  1. […] Before I commit myself to voting for the Coalition on the basis of Our Plan, I thought I should spend a little time checking facts and understanding the economic context for the Coalition’s policies. After all, it’s our responsibility as voters to satisfy ourselves that our candidates know what they are talking about. So, facts… Well it took me a while to find a fact I could check. Statements made in ‘Our Plan’ are generally unsupported or only partially reference their sources. This is a little disappointing for a policy statement, but consistent with the Coalition’s preference for research by newspaper. […]

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