May 05, 2005 | Graham

Lynton didn’t do it

Lynton Crosby is a great self-publicist. This morning on ABC Radio he was given credit for the 1995 Queensland State Coalition Campaign. There are a lot of things he has done, but that wasn’t one of them.
He’s not alone in getting undue credit for that campaign. After the election Kelly Gee, the National Party’s advertising agency, claimed the credit in the Courier Mail. But all they did was shoot the ads under direction from John King and Toby Ralph of DDB Needham, the Liberal Party’s advertising agency. Their original pitch had been to run a campaign branded “The new coalition” because they reckoned that if you put “new” in the name of something, like “New Coke” it would sell.
Then Ken Crook won an award for the campaign. Ken was an integral part of it, but his biggest contribution was to convince the National Party that the Liberal strategists who dreamed it up could deliver.
Just for the record, the original strategy was conceived by me (I was then Liberal Party Campaign Chairman) and David Fraser (former Liberal State Director), and borrowed significantly from Wayne Swan’s campaign for Jim Soorley in the 1991 BCC election. It was adopted by Bob Tucker and further developed in consultation with Mark Textor, Toby Ralph and John King. Jim Barron was a very new State Director at the time, and he, along with me, Andrew McBryde and Bob Tucker, executed the strategy, and refined it in parts as well. McBryde ran the polling in consultation with Mark Textor who was a Liberal Party employee at the time. I don’t remember ever discussing anything with Lynton Crosby during the course of the campaign, although others might have.
We didn’t win in 1995, we had to wait until the Mundingburra re-election in 1996 to be able to form a minority government with the support of Independent Liz Cunningham. That campaign was mostly run by Jim Barron and Toby Ralph, and the strength of the result shows what we could have done in the state election if we hadn’t been forced to soften our message because the National Party wouldn’t buy the whole package.
When he was interviewed on TV on the night of the re-election our candidate, Frank Tanti, gave all the credit to God. That led to him receiving a gruff phone call very early the next morning. “It’s God here,” said the voice and hung up. No, it wasn’t Lynton Crosby, it was State President Bob Tucker.
Lynton did get some credit for Mundingburra in Pamela Williams’ book The Victory. On page 217 she say “On by-election day the Liberals festooned the polling booths with metres of bunting featuring Keating ordered well in advance by Lynton Crosby”. Well, no they didn’t. No such bunting appeared on the polling booths in Mundingburra. Nothing like being there, and Lynton wasn’t.
None of this should be implied as criticism of Lynton as a campaigner, just a correction of the record, and the first attempt anywhere that I know of, to actually put the record straight on the 1995 election. One day I’ll have to write the book – it was a classic campaign.
Late note: A well-connected correspondent with a long range memory wrote to remind me that Lynton had actually “fled the State in Dec 1993 – 18 months prior to the said triumph”.

Posted by Graham at 10:44 am | Comments Off on Lynton didn’t do it |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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