Start as they mean to go on

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has visited the Governor-General and sought permission, and then called, a Federal Election for Saturday 7 September 2013.

As PM, Rudd holds the position of being able to make the first campaign speech as part of the announcement. The opposition leader, and other parties, are then able to make theirs.

Here is a very quick look (in the order the speeches happened) at what the leaders of the three most-prominent parties said in their first delivery. Based on the ‘start as you mean to go on’ philosophy, the have set the scene for what we might hear and see more of in the coming 30 or so days.

Kevin Rudd, Australian Labor Party — from courtyard of Parliament House

  • Leads with: There are positive, great things about Australia, including economy — should avoid negative.
  • Followed by: Industry, education, NDIS.
  • Sound byte: This is about who Australians trust
  • Debatable contradiction: ‘Three word slogans won’t solve complex problems’. (Launched campaign slogan ‘A new way’ immediately after conclusion of speech)
  • What you get if you vote us: Someone who knows how to steer the (economic) ship in ‘choppy waters’
  • Interesting/unbelievable quote: ‘We need each and every one of you to volunteer your time, your effort, your enthusiasm and maybe even send us a $10 donation.’ (ex-Obama campaign team that has been recruited by ALP at work here, a bit tacky in circumstances — should have been done on social media), and ‘You the Australian people over the years have seen me at my highest highs, and some of my lowest lows. You have witnessed some of those moments right here, in the place we are standing now in Parliament House in Canberra.’ (best avoided reminding everyone; everyone already thinking it, and added no strength to speech, just created awkwardness).
  • Uniform of choice (for fun): ‘Magenta’ tie. As someone said, keeping as far away from a blue tie as possible.

Christine Milne, The Greens — from Hobart (full transcript could not be found)

  • Leads with: Let’s build a society that cares about people,
  • Followed by: We offer compassion, true environmental protection, we are positive
  • Sound byte: ‘The choice is between the Greens… and the old parties’, and ‘“We live in a society, not an economy.”
  • Debatable contradiction: “The Greens have always campaigned in a very positive way” (I’m not sure this 2010 campaign video was positive)
  • What you get if you vote us: We’re different; we aren’t like the old parties
  • Interesting/unbelievable quote: “Australians will have the choice between the compassion offered by the Greens and the cruelty of the old parties,” and “I think the Greens are going to build support both in rural seats and in inner city seats across the country,”
  • Uniform of choice (for fun): Dark, patterned jacket that reminded me of Indigenous art.

Tony Abbott, Liberal Party — from Parliament House

  • Leads with: Economy, surplus, taxes.
  • Followed by: Scrapping carbon tax, building infrastructure, stopping the boats.
  • Sound byte: Not about trust, about who is ‘fair dinkum’
  • Debatable contradiction: Says won’t rely on another country to deal with border protection (they do seem to like and need Nauru)
  • What you get if you vote us: Liberal Party is about unity and stability
  • Interesting/unbelievable quote: “You’ll never find this kind of divisiveness from me. I am proud of Australia as an immigrant society. I am proud of the fact that people from all over the world have come here not to change us but to join us and that social solidarity will increase under a Coalition government.” (just don’t be a refugee in a boat) And, “there will not be a minority government led by me” (difficult to think he would happily let Rudd lead a minority government and give up chance to be PM).
  • Uniform of choice (for fun): Blue tie. Julia would be amused.


Rudd seemed awkward, like he had just been given some bad news before he stepped out (as it is unlike him to not be confident — think first day back as leader on the floor of the house); and he talked far too long — too many messages. Abbott was not inspiring. Both seemed like they were overly restrained. Milne monotone, but I remember more of what she said — she communicated much better, and gave more detail. However, the reality is, Milne isn’t going to be prime minister, which is why the policies and performance of Rudd and Abbott, and their parties, deserve the greater scrutiny.

Journalists and politicians love talk of economy and surplus but unless this is discussed in real jobs, employment, cost of living terms, this bores the key audience — the voter.

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