Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter



Jun 28, 2012

Coalition's talking points delve into a bag of rhetorical tricks

The Coalition's daily talking points obtained by Crikey provide an insight into the basics of political spin.

When you spin, make sure you spin alliteratively. It’s much easier to remember.

Crikey has obtained yesterday’s and today’s internal Coalition talking points, distributed daily to MPs and staff by Abbott media adviser and veteran PR man Paul Ritchie (who declined to respond to Crikey). And you can’t move for alliteration. “Labor chose a stalemate and not a solution,” today’s points insist about the asylum seeker bill passed yesterday. “The government is divided and dysfunctional.” The Coalition supports “offshore processing” and “offshore protections”.

There’s also the issue of balance — not of policy, but of phrases. The Coalition offered “a principled compromise to get a workable bill”. “Too many people have made the dangerous journey on leaky boats and too many have lost their lives in attempting to do so.” And few nouns go unadjectivised. Gillard’s rejection is “wilful”. Gillard herself is a “failing” PM. Oakeshott was doing the bidding of a “failed government”. There is, painfully, “a policy cul de sac on asylum seekers with no way forward”, which tends to be the problem with cul-de-sacs.

What the points show is that yesterday the Coalition had hoped to keep the political debate on the carbon price. Yesterday’s key message was that “[t]he world’s biggest carbon tax will add $4.6 billion to the costs of electricity generators, risk critical investment in the sector and drive up the electricity prices of every Australian household and business. The carbon tax will drive up electricity prices and put jobs and investment at risk.”

The leadership team was going to focus on the carbon price impact in the electricity generation sector and the impact on small business. Asylum seekers were an afterthought, down with the Clive Palmer and Peter Slipper talking points.

That of course was wrecked by news of the latest boat sinking and the subsequent events in parliament. Today’s talking points are given over to justifying the Coalition’s position — “consistent and principled”, or just “principled” and attacking the Malaysian solution as unworkable.

But the old theme of border security is never far away. Yesterday’s points focused on how the government “never really wanted to stop the boats” and turned the theme of compromise around: “We don’t want compromised borders, we want strong borders.” Today there’s more mention of “good and decent people”, but the borders aren’t far away.

Yesterday’s tragedy was “a grim day on our borders”; Gillard would “ensure our borders remained weak and compromised, rather than strong [and] secure.”

Today’s Coalition talking points …

Coalition message:

The Coalition will restore hope, reward and opportunity for all Australians

The Gillard government is weak and incompetent, divided and dysfunctional

Today’s message:

The Coalition has a consistent and principled position on protecting our borders. Yesterday, we offered a principled compromise to get a workable bill. Instead, Julia Gillard and Labor chose a stalemate and not a solution. Labor’s bill is not good legislation — it is doomed to fail because it compromises the standards of a good and decent people and it won’t stop the boats.

Issues that the leadership team will focus on:

The Coalition has a consistent and principled position on borders

  • We support offshore processing.
  • We support offshore protections.
  • We support Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs).
  • We support turning boats around where it is safe to do so.
  • We do not support the Malaysia people swap because it will not work and it fails the test of a good and decent people.

In good faith, the Coalition offered a principled compromise yesterday, consistent with our values. This included:

  • We offered to increase Australia’s refugee and humanitarian intake from the current level to 20,000 a year within three years. We did so with the purpose of offering this compromise is to try to get support for a workable bill.
  • We believe it makes sense to offer people who are prepared to try to come to Australia the right way rather than the wrong way more opportunity to do so.
  • We offered to the Parliament humane offshore processing plus a somewhat larger refugee and humanitarian intake in a bid to break the impasse.
  • We also offered that people who are processed at any centre would have the processing of claims done within 12 months and that there would be a multi-party committee that would be established to work out how to successfully settle 20,000 people.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives voted for a stalemate and not a solution

  • Yesterday, was a grim day on our borders
  • Too many people have made the dangerous journey on leaky boats and too many have lost their lives in attempting to do so.
  • The Coalition had hoped that yesterday we could end the evil people trade and vote for a policy solution.
  • Instead, Julia Gillard drove the parliament back into deadlock when she had the opportunity to reach a genuine consensus and enable us to move forward.
  • The House of Representatives voted not for a solution, but for a stalemate.
  • Julia Gillard’s wilful rejections of the coalition’s genuine offer to help break the deadlock in the House of Representatives has taken the parliament back into a policy cul de sac on asylum seekers with no way forward, unless today she chooses to a u–turn in the Senate, where the Coalition’s offer remains good.
  • The government and Independents chose yesterday to secure a cheap and hollow 24 hour political victory to prop up a failing prime minister, rather than ensure that the real consensus on offshore processing was made law, providing a way forward.
  • Mr Oakeshott’s bill did the bidding of a failed Government to aid a failing Prime Minister and rejected the true consensus that was on the table in the parliament. Mr Oakeshott’s bill rejected the Coalition’s Policy and embraced more failure from the Government.
  • More than 1500 people have arrived this month, almost double the cap of the Malaysian People swap.
  • This is a dud dead for Australia and a cruel deal for asylum seekers. Labor always votes for more failure on asylum policy when proven success is available
  • The Prime Minister once again chose ensure our borders remained weak and compromised, rather than strong secure. That is why almost 20,000 people have turned up on illegal boats since labor first weakened our borders, more than 5000 just this year alone.
  • The bill as it stands is doomed to fail in the Senate and it should fail in the Senate because it is not good legislation. It compromises our standards and it will not stop the boats.

If asked re Clive Palmer’s proposal for a motion at Federal Council

  • The matter will be resolved in the normal party forums on the weekend.

If asked, re the Slipper case

  • We will not provide a running commentary on court cases.
  • The only question that is relevant is did Mr Slipper sexually harass a staff member?

Paul Ritchie, Press Secretary
Office of the Hon Tony Abbott MHR, Leader of the Opposition



We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola


Leave a comment

20 thoughts on “Coalition’s talking points delve into a bag of rhetorical tricks

  1. khtagh

    Did you notice if S.B. was on the mailing list too?

  2. khtagh

    Good article too, not that we all didn’t know how the Mad Monk & mincing poodle worked anyway

  3. bill.wilson

    They are a disgrace and masters of dirty tricks and half truths.
    It all works a treat on dumb-as-crap populace though and so the Monk will make the lodge

  4. form1planet

    “Consistent and principled”? That’s rich coming from a party that gets all trembly with indignation at the thought of sending individuals to non-signatory Malaysia, but is happy to tow entire boatfuls back to Indonesia (a tactic ruled by European court to breach international law).

    If it’s alliteration they’re after, I’d suggest petty politicking and breath-taking bullshit sums it up.

  5. CliffG

    The Howard government thrived on punishing and deterring refugees by denying them human rights. The driving core of it all was Ruddock who was lionised. Nauru was not then a signatory of any UN conventions. Did that matter? Not a bit.
    This is just appalling (but not at all surprising) Coalition hypocrisy. Do what we say or we’ll stop you. Then we’ll call you “divided and dysfunctional” completely ignoring the fact that , one of their own, Mal Washer, was prepared to walk across the floor of parliament.
    And it seems when you vote Green, once again, you allow Abbott to play petty, vile, political games with your vote.

  6. Holden Back

    I’ve said it before for the Coalition any political tactic goes because “When WE do it, it’s funny”

  7. Dogs breakfast

    “We support turning boats around where it is safe to do so. (to a country that has not signed the refugee convention)
    We do not support the Malaysia people swap because it will not work and it fails the test of a good and decent people. (because they haven’t signed the refugee convention, even though the convention was ignored when we set up policy to go to Nauru)

    “We offered to increase Australia’s refugee and humanitarian intake ” although that really will have no effect on the boats, at all, and we know it.

    “We believe it makes sense to offer people who are prepared to try to come to Australia the right way rather than the wrong way” in spite of the fact that there is no ‘right’ way for the vast majority of these people, that we have never explicitly said what was the ‘right’ way adn we never will because that would involve putting out an actuall policy.

    “The coalition is determined to pursue policies from the past which will have no deterrent effect because the dumb voters can’t distinguish shite from putty.”

    There. Fixed!

  8. robinw

    What I would like to know about the Coalition’s promise to tow the boats back to Indonesia is this:

    If the boat is in Indonesian waters, then surely we can’t intrude there to ‘turn it back’?

    If the boat is in international waters, then surely any attempt to hook a tow line on it could be construed as illegal under international maritime laws? (Yes, I know, hollow laughter about the Tampa and wilful disregard at the time by Howard et al of those very same laws). And even if the boat was returned to the Indonesian territorial boundary, we couldn’t enter it unless invited by the Indonesians (which, given Tony’s golden tonsilled way with the Indonesians so far would mean that they would be jumping over themselves to do his bidding immediately). Therefore the boat would have to be left at the boundary of the Indonesian border just waiting to resume its voyage to Australia.

    If the boat is in Australian waters, then surely we can only tow it to the Indonesian border and then would have to drop the tow (see above)? What’s then stopping the boat from attempting to re-enter our zone and the whole sorry farce to continue until the boat got into strife and we had to save those on board anyway?

    Lastly, I am certain the Navy would just love to be placed into such a situation. I can see them now practising their towing and boarding techniques in anticipation for those most glorious and illustrious events that await them in their future.

    Where am I going wrong in this scenario as it appears to me that the whole business of ‘turning them back’ is just so much piss and wind and Abbott and Morrisson must surely know this. Another ‘non-core promise’ perhaps?

  9. Barbara Boyle

    Tuose are SCRIPTED ‘talking points?

    Ye gods.

    Poor,pathetic poltroons;all puff , no stuffing.

  10. eric

    Nothing new here the LNP have been doing this since Menzies.


Telling you what the others don't. FREE for 21 days.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.