The national political marketplace is being offered two competing products this year. A box full of Rudd Tricks or an Abbott’s Energy Bar.

But there’s another comparison that many consumers are likely to make, albeit with a product that’s no longer on the shelves because it had reached its use-by date. The Howard Consistency Pack.

John Howard was a mixture of many things — ideologue, pragmatist, loyalist, social conservative — but unlike the two products on sale now, he always remained true to his USP (unique selling proposition). He stuck to his guns on the issues that defined him and his government.

Now, in the choice between a box of tricks and an energy bar, it’s becoming clear that almost nothing matters but spin. Spin about health, about climate change, about population and, today, about smoking.

There may be plenty of policy options on the shelves in the politics aisle, but in the end they all turn out to have the same basic ingredient. Unhealthy doses of spin.

Peter Fray

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