Advertising is an expensive commodity for political parties during an election campaign and has the disadvantage that people tend to be skeptical about all those claims and counter claims. Far better to have the message carried on the news pages and in the news bulletins which have the credibility of independence.

Thus it is that those playing the political game spend considerable time and some modest expense on advertisements designed for no other reason than prodding journalists into giving free exposure.

In its way, this Crikey story prove the system works. So you can understand what I’m writing about I have to mention the Labor Party’s latest mobile billboard, resplendent with John Howard saying “Working families in Australia have never been better off”.

The Melbourne Herald Sun had a picture of it this morning with an accompanying story explaining that Labor research shows people hate the PM’s claim and believe Mr Howard keeps repeating it.

“In fact,” said the story, “it is the Labor Party which keeps reminding voters that Mr Howard said it and its frontbenchers repeat it ad nauseam. Research shows even those who are better off don’t like politicians reminding them of it.”

The billboard itself is unlikely to appear for long. It made the television news last night and and today’s papers, so its job may be done. The truck can now be prepared for its next advertisement for journalists.