How to Spot a Non-core Promise

Posted on July 20, 2010 by

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A federal election is approaching and the political leaders are ironing their shirts and practicing their trustworthy faces in the mirror. For the next month and a half, all the attention is going to be on them – but they’ll be trying to convince you that it’s really all about you. You’re going to be promised a lot and asked to trust them. But let’s face it: history tells us that’s a mistake.

Election promises are vote-winning ploys above all; once the election is over, the likelihood of the promise being fulfilled is only as high as the number of votes they might be worth at the next election.

You’re going to need a sharp eye and a critical mind to sort the “gospel truths” from the “non-core promises”. Here are some signs that an apparently iron-clad promise might not be everything the party leaders say it is.

There are no losers

Under this great new plan, everybody will be better off. Taxes will be cut and government services will be improved; employers and employees will both have more control over work contracts; people arriving by boat will be treated more humanely but never move into your neighbourhood.

Example:
Tony Abbott’s magical energy solution that will save the environment without costing anything to anybody: “We are not going to put impositions on consumers and we are not going to put impositions on producers.”

It’s a response to yesterday’s news

The Coalition has a new childcare policy? What a coincidence! The Labor Party has a new childcare policy too! Oh, the ALP has announced some tax cuts? Why, the Coalition has even bigger tax cuts! You say your dad’s a firefighter? Well, my dad’s an astronaut!

Example:
Tony Abbott proposes new rules to make it harder for asylum seekers to gain refugee status; Julia Gillard immediately announces a plan to process asylum seekers in East Timor – without first stopping to check it with the Prime Minister of East Timor.

They’ve talked about this before – three years ago

A big problem has been talked about, on and off, for years, and now they’re promising to fix it once and for all. Fixing this issue is an absolutely central part of the party’s plan for government, just as it was at the last election. They may have actually been in government for the past three years, but they just haven’t got around to starting on it yet, because they’ve been really busy, y’know?, and time just got away from them a bit, and now they’re ready to tackle it head-on. The fact that it’s still a big part of their election platform three years later proves how dedicated they are to solving this issue.

Example:
Every climate change policy ever.

The next time you hear a politician on the news or in an advertisement talking up their grand new scheme, stop and think: will it ever really happen?

Words by Fraser Allison

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