Harms’ Election Watch- Part 1

As Director of Manning Clark House in Canberra, I am obliged to have a good grasp of Australian History, and at least pretend to have a good grasp of contemporary Australian day-to-day politics. I reckon I’ve got the nuts and bolts of the first one covered, but I’m less confident about the other.

Not because I don’t take an interest. I’ve been thinking about it for 30 years, but I still don’t have an answer to the fundamental Australian political question: is the Australian electorate informed, interested, engaged? Could the bloke down the pub give a flying about any of these politicians and leaders, and their policies? Or do they just keep ticking along, heading off to work, trying to feed the kids and have enough left over for a couple of beers and fish’n’chips on a Friday night?

It is a tough one.

Clearly the ALP strategists don’t have a high regard for the intelligence of the electorate. They’re going with the modern branding argument that if they can make Labor stick, such that uninterested punters can at least recognize a photo of Julia Gillard and one slogan (‘Moving Forward’) they will win the election.

This is The Sun Will Rise Today show politics. And it’s going to drive us nuts.

On Saturday Julia Gillard had us moving forward many, many times. It was a pedestrian speech, delivered in a monotone which is wearing already, and devoid of light and shade, humour and (especially) natural warmth. It was wooden: the speech of a party hack. It was delivered for the nation, which these days means the 5-second news grab.

Audience is very important when assessing a speech. I went to the National Press Club last Thursday and heard a thinking person’s version of Saturday’s speech. She may have been trying it out. But even though the Press Club speech was delivered to the members of the club, and tables taken by major corporate players, and was televised nationally on ABC1, it was also a pretty basic speech. She was much more lively answering questions (as Laurie Oakes found out).

I know Ms Gillard only has to be better then Tony Abbott (more on that later) but I think that at $1.29 (as I write) on offer for a Labor victory is under the odds.

If you are a trader I think these odds will tighten up, so I’d be laying the ALP now.

Betfair odds today:

ALP         $1.29

Coalition  $4.50

Harms market today:

ALP       $1.50

Coalition $3.00

Harms will be laying the ALP today.

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


    Sadly accurate assessment of what both parties think of the electorate they’re appealing to.

    Both leaders even talk in an unnaturally slow and deliberate fashion, just in case it’s all too difficult for us.

    It makes you wonder just how much contact they have with the world outside politics.

    To make matters worse, the commercial media seems to share their opinion of us.

  2. It’s our fault JB.

    We continue to encourage both the pollies and the commercial media by not discouraging them.

    The the pollies perservere with the ever reliable mushroom strategy.

    When in Government they ‘keep us in the dark.’

    And when in election mode they ‘feed us B S.’

    And like any good opportunistic parasite the commercial media feed off it, and thrive.

  3. JTH – The Gruen Transfer (ABC Wednesday nights)has been fantastic viewing during this election campaign. Last night they were saying that this election is a race to the bottom; ie the winner will be the least worst. I reckon frame the market around that sentiment.

    Though last night they also showed an ad from the USA played during the California pole for a new Governor (the one that big Arnie won). The candidate was a female pron star who had all the bits and all the policies a porn star should have. The hilarious part was that she got 10,000 votes! Isn’t democracy just brilliant.

  4. sorry – “porn star” not “pron star”. Must have been watching too much of it!

  5. Dips,

    could a deviant crustacean a Prawn Star?

  6. Dave Latham says

    No, they’d just be a deviant prawn.

  7. JTH! :) we all thought you had gone into hiding or something, good to see you.
    writin’ about polictics instead of footy…interesting :P
    Don’t be offended but Australian History has to be the most boring when you compare it to German, French and Russian.
    As for the election, GO GREENS!! :)

  8. JTH,

    I’m a first time voter this year, and consequently I’ve found myself becoming more interested in politics of late, despite the fact that it is a very boring time in Australian politics. I don’t think the phrase “Vote for who you dislike the least” has ever applied better than to this election.

    The highlight of the election campaign for me has been the Sunrise debate between the Australian Sex Party and Family First – Did anyone see that? I thought it was 1000 times more interesting than the Gillard-Abbott boreathon.

  9. Dave Nadel says

    There is an alternative to the Gillard-Abbot boreathon. I’m voting Green, and because I am doing it in Melbourne, where the Greens have a good candidate (Adam Bandt) and where Labor have replaced one of their best and brightest (Lindsay Tanner) with an unknown party hack (I know her name I’m just not giving her the publicity) I stand a real chance of voting for the first Green to get elected to the Lower house in Victoria!

    I am voting Green, because it seems to me that the only chance of getting Labor to behave like a progressive party is for the Greens to hold the balance of power in the Senate and force Labor to the left.

    Having said that, a Collingwood victory on the last Saturday of September will mean a lot more to me than anything that happens on August 21. If it is a victory over Geelong that will be especially sweet now that Frank Costa has sold his clubs sole to Tony Abbott.

  10. Dave Nadel says

    Actually Costa has sold his clubs SOUL to the Libs, I don’t think Abbott would have been interested in the bottom of the Cats’ boots!

  11. Adam #8

    I’m gonna vote Australian Sex Party in the Senate.

    I was offered their “how to vote” material prior to a screening of “Hugh Hefner – Playboy, Activist & Rebel” during MIFF.

    A party that values the “pervert vote” – they’ve got mine !


  12. Im in the seat of Batman, informal in the house and Stephen Mayne in the senate is looking good.

  13. Dave #9,

    Good to see you are a thinking voter Dave.

    However, I note you have driven the idealogical boots into “Uncle Frank”.

    Do you reckon Eddie votes to the left?

    Go Cats. Go Greens.

  14. Dave Nadel says

    No I don’t think Eddie votes to the left – he might vore Labor for “sentimental boy from Broady” reasons but his politics would be fairly conservative. However, unlike Mr Costa, he is has not involved the Club in his private politics.

    Go Pies. Go Greens.

  15. Dave, Eddie has not involved the club in his private politics? Please google “conflict of interest” and you will see a picture of Ed. The original footy show was a blatant promo for all things black & white and everything he does, public or private has a Carringbush element. His philosophy is subversive as he makes it all look like its fore the common good. But theres always a price and usually that price is a very strong reference to his brand. He makes McDonalds look like Mother Theresa! As for the Geelong Pres… Like the most famous of Carringbush leader before Ed history will tell. Hope theres a Frank Hardy out there.

  16. 15- Chalkdog, there will be no bagging of sacred big yellow M!!!

  17. Hey Danni,
    NOT bagging the arches. Bagging the Ed!

  18. 17- naww come on!
    Eddie is a great guy, i shook his hand once :)
    He’s just a person who likes to share his views and people who dont like it, well they dont have to listen.

  19. Dan, I know you are youngish but I feel you are not gullible. Shakin’ someones hand does not make them great. I saw some commentary on Andrew Fithalls Colliwobbl blog that examined the relevance of past behaviour on future behaviour. Your granny would have said ” a leopard doesnt change its spots”. Ed has done very well. If Hutchy applies himself with the same zeal he will be President of Libya [or somewhere] one day. As I said earlier Ed preaches the common good angle of your club way too much. Place yourself in a Kangas or a Doggies household. Ed has helped both clubs but has always claimed his pound of flesh by making sure he tells everyone how much Collingbush cares for the less fortunate. Just be balanced in your appraisal. Zealotry [if thats a word] is fine in the trenches and on the bleachers but if you want to analyse a situation you need to step back and look wide. Hey sorry to sound like your Civics teacher but Im really crapped off by those lame Dogs tonight. Cant see us troubling your [Eddies] boys in the next few weeks. And how do you get those smiley face things on to your threads….

  20. Chalkdog, i didnt mean it that way.
    i was saying that he’s a greay guy and then stating that i shook his hand.
    not that beacuse he shook my hand hes a great guy, although that would be true, since i am pretty fab :P lol
    Harsh use of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice – ‘pound of flesh’ lol
    the smileys are a combination of this key
    : and this key ) right after eachother with no space. :)

  21. :) :) Im sure I misread your sentiment re handshakes but as I said I was trying to forget a bad game. You probably are fab. And if you use your objectivity you WILL be FABBBBBER :)
    PS Ed used to buy his ham from my sister a long time ago. He was that enigmatic she listens to MMM in the morning. She was 58 yesterday and I keep telling her she is way out of their demographic. But Ed won her over and she follows Hawthorn.. go figure! is there a couple of keys that show up as bewildered as I think Gigs needs to see what he is doing to our brains. lol [so long as that stands for love our leader] jks

  22. Dave Nadel says

    Chalkdog #15. It depends how you use the concept of politics. Eddie has certainly used Collingwood in promoting Brand Eddie, indeed Eddie treats the club as if he was the club’s owner rather than an elected club president. Lots of Collingwood people do not like this, but we put up with it because Eddie’s presidency is likely to result in a Premiership.

    However, for all his self-promotion, Eddie has not aligned the club with a political cause or party that more than half the membership oppose, which is basically what Frank Costa did at Geelong last week.

  23. Sorry Dave, I have to admit I have no clue what FCosta did or said last week. But under a very strong Labour state government Collingwood end up with the old state swimming centre fully kitted out and they get dibs on a fair chunk of the Olympic Park space. Do you really think there was no politics involved in those decisions. At the time Eds brother was a state political reporter with the ABC or maybe just out of that gig to take up a role at McGuire Media. I dont want to sound like Steven Mayne but there certainly seems a fair opportunity for politics and sport to collide.
    Maybe FCosta has done it right and come out and stated the obvious. Noone [except maybe me] is unclear about his direction. Everyone was in the dark re Pies relocation from Vic Pk to wherver until Ed told it sold it and walked down Hoddle St.
    Its probably worth noting that John Howard gave $8mill to the Dogs to assist in rejuvenating Whitten Oval. It didnt get him one extra vote in the western suburns and ultimately he lost his seat [ironically to a political reporter]. As I implied earlier it takes objectivity to fully break down the matter, and often hindsight makes that much easier. Im not bashing CollingwoodInc per se but get a tad put off when you guys take the moral high ground. As a leading brand in the game you cant say we will do anything to win that premiership. You lose out to Carlton under Elliott every time. And Eds has never said that either. He is too rat cunning to play his cards up front. It happens Dave but we dont see it until the full glare of hindsight hits the deal. In most cases if its a choice between conspiracy & stuff up its usually the latter unless the protagonists are high profile and attached to a brand that overvalues its worth [and you can count every government in election mode as something overvaluing its own worth]. If Eds mob folded tomorrow there are enough supporters of other clubs to ensure status quo very quickly. If 3 or 4 major brands went at the same time it is all over..

  24. Dave Nadel says

    I am sure Eddie has contacts with both sides of politics and I am sure he uses them. I am not going to defend Eddie’s deals, in fact I have publically criticised Eddie (at Collingwood AGMs) which is a far more daunting task than taking anonymous cheap shots on supportive websites.

    The fact remains that Collingwood has never allowed any of its Presidents or officials to use the Club for Liberal Party propaganda as both Geelong and Western Bulldogs have been used in recent years. Costa actually released a joint press statement with the Liberals and has been exposed by Andrew Demetriou as a goose, given that State and Federal Labor had actually promised the Cats more money to develop Kardinia Park.

    There are lots of things (going back to Wren days and including McAlisters response to Nicky Winmar) that you can criticised Collingwood for. However I think not contributing to Liberal propaganda is the high moral ground and in relation to Geelong and Footscray I have no problem claiming it.

  25. Dave – I’m not sure that you are correct in asserting that Geelong used the club for Liberal Party propaganda. It was a simple case of promoting the best deal for the club. How can you blame a President for that? Eddie McGuire is always using Collingwood to promote various issues.

    You see, my understanding is that the ALP offered Geelong more money to redevelop the ground, but ONLY if Australia won the World Cup bid. It was an empty vessel promise. The Libs simply offered money. I know which one I’d choose and its not a matter of politics.

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