If every picture tells a story, then John Howard is trying hard to show us that he is a compassionate, caring Prime Minister. Last night’s television news bulletins showed John Howard mingling with a group of disabled people – old people and young people with a variety of disabilities, mental and physical.
It was a beautiful piece of election campaigning where those at home in front of the telly did not need to hear the words to know that this was a kind man doing good things.
Those that did listen to the commentary would realise that the illustration matched the words. The PM was announcing a $1.8 billion package of assistance for people with disabilities, their families and carers. The assistance will be available from 1 July 2007, and is on top of the $3.275 billion which the Commonwealth had already offered to the states and territories for delivery of disability services.
The vote-winning aspects of this event, staged in the key election state of Queensland, have little to do with the people who will benefit from the new spending.
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Howard was not so much after the votes of the disabled and their carers as in getting across to the broader community of voters that he has a soft and caring side. He should be well pleased with the way the television networks helped him show it.
This Coalition event rather overshadowed Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd’s campaign contribution of announcing plans for a national health-care strategy in a speech delivered to a health insurance conference in Sydney. There’s nothing appealing about pictures of a politician talking to people in suits.
A second event that had Rudd attending the opening of a campaign office for Maxine McKew, with McKew present in the flesh and on large posters, provided a little variation, but was not in the same league as the Howard team’s television event for the day.