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The debacle that was Australian federal politics last week seems to be on a hiatus for the time being, but what damage have the pollies done to their beloved Liberal Party brand? And, can they be resurrected from the opinion poll chopping block?1
If you were playing buzzword bingo this week, you’d be busy as a beaver. The new PM, Scott Morrisson (or ScoMo), has hammered his keywords relentlessly to media, as if saying them over and over will make us forget the week that was lost to internal bickering. I’m all for key messaging, but it feels as though I’m being smacked on the head by a blunt instrument.
Whose side are they on? ScoMo says ‘the Australian people’s side’2, like it used to be them (the pollies) and us (the voters); made worse by the fact that he is now here to ‘serve us’. The absurdity in the new key messaging is extraordinary.
They are spruiking this as a ‘new generation’ of Liberal leadership. I’m totally confused by this – wasn’t ScoMo the Treasurer five minutes ago? Without any new policies, and no idea what they stand for – what is so new about two middle-aged white guys in blue ties?
He talks about ‘getting the party back together’ after being ‘bruised and battered’ but we’ll all cope as we are ‘resilient’, us Australians. With Abbott a ‘wrecker’ and Dutton maintaining he has ‘no regrets’, ScoMo describes the spill ‘the one they had to have to resolve the bitter animosity conservatives still held for Turnbull’. Wow!
In a crisis, one where your brand is being banged around, the first step of brand recovery needs to be about truth. Plain and simple. Just as it is, without any highfalutin jargon or taglines designed for grabs.
What about something like: “We stuffed up – big time. We are so sorry. We lost our way. We were imploding so badly, a spill just had to happen. It’s been crap for a while and it boiled up over the energy debate. Our broad church needs redesigning. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The second step needs to be action. I can see ScoMo was working on the Saturday after the week from hell, ‘getting on with the job’, but I think we need something else. Something bigger.
We need to see some gutsy action, so we know they are sorry. A grand gesture. I would suggest they all donate a week’s pay to the drought, or to domestic violence, just so we know they are genuine. A gesture to say we are sorry for wasting the tax payer’s money.
- A 90-day play – something to hold them accountable to.
- Clarity on their policy positions – and what of the energy policy?
- Heads need to roll. People (Dutton) need to be punished.
- Abbott needs to retire and stop talking to Ray Hadley about his career.
- Julie Bishop needs some recognition.
- Immediate action on domestic violence.
- Transparency – when will the election will be?
The third step? Get on with the job. Govern well, EVERY SINGLE DAY; openly, honestly and with integrity, until that becomes the norm.
For at the end of the day, actions speak far louder than words.
1 This is not a reflection of my personal political views, just commentary on a widely well-known brand.
2 All comments reported in Guardian Australia