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Federal

Sep 8, 2009

Rudd takes Turnbull for a spin

If Malcolm Turnbull wants to make an impact on PM Kevin Rudd's popularity ratings, then he should learn to counteract Rudd's clever communication strategies.

Addressing the Coalition party room this morning, Malcolm Turnbull called Kevin Rudd’s speech at the launch of Paul Kelly’s book yesterday “Orwellian”. Rudd was like a Communist Party General Secretary in his rewriting of history.

Turnbull’s comments were a bit OTT — no democratically-elected leader ever merits comparison with Stalinist tyrants, and the word “Orwellian” is now used in political debate with, well, Orwellian frequency. Nonetheless, Turnbull is essentially correct. The Prime Minister used a book launch to make a lengthy partisan attack on his political opponents that is at odds with what actually happened in the 1980s and 1990s.

But there’s a basic, if disturbing, connection between such petty partisanship on the part of Mr Rudd and his continuing and quite remarkable standing in the views of Australian voters, as attested to by all of the major opinion polls.

Mr Rudd’s popularity remains at historic highs for two reasons: he has saved the economy from a steep rise in unemployment, and done so with a set of popular measures involving handouts, schools, roads and houses. And he is backed by about the most disciplined and ruthless communication management team seen in Australian political history. Mr Rudd is unashamed in his communication techniques, knowing full well that what other politicians and the Press Gallery think doesn’t matter to the majority of voters.

Mr Turnbull, in contrast, has the political messaging techniques of a successful former lawyer and businessman — i.e. none.

If Turnbull really wants to do something about both Rudd and his own poor polling numbers, or even just survive politically, he needs to work out how to counter the communications strategies of the Prime Minister and his office.

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5 comments

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5 thoughts on “Rudd takes Turnbull for a spin

  1. Venise Alstergren

    The difference between the two leaders is, to me, blindingly obvious. Kevin Rudd is a professional politician. Malcolm Turnbull is an amateur politician.
    Although my observation is accurate it is infinitely depressing. Rudd needs some serious competition. Bugger!

  2. Kevin Herbert

    Your statement .

    “Mr Rudd is unashamed in his communication techniques, knowing full well that what other politicians and the Press Gallery think doesn’t matter to the majority of voters”.

    is spot on…but only for so long.

    Rudd & Gillard can only play that game for so long against those within the ALP (at least 4 of the front bench) who already dislike their condescending ‘ we will ‘ attitude. It’s only early in Rudd’s tenure, but he has a touch of the Hawke arrogance about him.

    Rudd is identical to Howard in that his ONLY political ideal is to be re-elected…all show no go. How sad.

    He could’ve easily led the Libs.

  3. simmobc

    Rudd is still a fad but is clearly becoming more and more arrogant and confident as time goes on, probably a by-product of the opinion polls which is probably fair enough.

    My view is that the electorate will eventually become tired of the hollow and spin based speeches from Rudd, but who knows…

    In hindsight, there is a good case to say that Turnbull has done remarkably well to weather the storm and survive the past 3 months, which have been very tough and painful to watch at times.

    I agree Venise, Rudd is a professional politician whereas Turnbull is still finding his feet however I think your call on “serious competition” is still too early. There were times during the Coalitions reign when they had no credible opposition either, things change fast.

  4. Venise Alstergren

    Simmobc: Yep. I can’t argue with that.

    See ya.

  5. joe2

    “Mr Rudd is unashamed in his communication techniques, knowing full well that what other politicians and the Press Gallery think doesn’t matter to the majority of voters.”

    And , of course, that begs the question why should Rudd be in any way ashamed of his media management plan when the Press Gallery is continually engaged in “a lengthy partisan attack” against him and his government? It is all very well shunting the problem onto him but it would be quite nice to recognise that his techniques are, to some extent, an obvious reaction to over the top hostility.