Election Harms Round 2- The Debate

Sunday evening used to be for watching Disneyland. You would always wonder which land the story would come from: Adventure Land, Fantasy Land, and the other Lands which have drifted from my memory. Then came Big Brother, and Sunday evening footy, and now Master Chef.

I watched the end of Master Chef last night just to see what all the fuss was about. It is a simple concept based on total audience manipulation. Over-sentimentalised, over-dramatised, over-simplified.

If that’s what appeals to so many Australians I can see why the pollies feel the need to copy it. And to simplify their policy explanations, dramatise the inadequacies of their opponents, and sentimentalise (with the use of clunky rhetoric) the life they offer to their electorates.

How predictable was the debate last night between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. How dull was it?

I heard nothing new. I heard no carefully crafted lines designed to have us chortling or nodding our heads in agreement. I heard no beautifully constructed arguments.

These were the speeches and responses of bureaucrats. These were two fearful party leaders ticking boxes: some little boxes, some big boxes. The funny thing was the size of the boxes is being dictated by a small section of the electorate.

With polling and focus grouping the way it is we might as well have some reality show as the means by which we elect our government. We might as well get people to ring a 1900 number to vote on what the most important issues are and then, and only then, get the pollies to speak. And then when they speak we might get Australians to ring another 1900 number to vote them off.

That might help the economy by stimulating the telecommunications sector, and with a small super-profits tax, it may get the National Broadband Network rolling.

Fair dinkum: this is all dull, dull, dull. Uninspiring. Occasionally personal (although Tony Abbott did disguise his family and kids dig at Julia Gillard)

And, in this era of presidential politics, when you have two pedestrian leaders the betting market should be much closer. It has tightened slightly.

It will tighten further. I hope you backed the coalition when they were (briefly) $5.

Early Monday morning Betfair market:

ALP                $1.31

Coalition         $4.10

Harms market

ALP                $1.60

Coalition         $2.70

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. John Butler says

    This was a set piece between someone who couldn’t stand on her record because she’d just trashed it, and bloke who can’t tell you what he really thinks because he knows it would make him unelectable.

    No wonder they both acted like they were tranquillised.

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