October 24, 2007 | Graham

Have the Liberals run out of money?

The Labor Party has shot so many ads, that now they are running ALP TV. Their latest ad features a scare campaign on Global Warming, and I’ve already seen it a number of times on terrestrial TV.
But where is the Liberal counterattack, on this or any other matter? Since the early blitz on the Labor union link, there’s been virtually nothing. There is a good ad that hit the airwaves on Monday on their copy-cat tax policy but I’ve yet to see it anywhere but the Internet.
The Liberal campaign is virtually relying on big policy announcements, like tax and seniors ones, to carry the full weight of the campaign – that’s just not going to work.
This parallels my experience in the last few Queensland elections. The Coalition campaign starts well-behind with a low expectation that it will win. It then comes out with a bang and some negative ads are thrown around, mixed with a sprinkling of positive ones, and some policy announcements. Then it all dribbles away and you start to hear the stories that the campaign is running low on resources.
The strategy appears to be that you won’t get donations unless donors think you are competitive, but it’s hard to get money if you’re not competitive, so you start with a bang hoping that it will get you within striking distance of the Labor party. It doesn’t and you end up limping into the last weeks of the campaign in an even worse position than you started.
It’s starting to look like the Federal Liberals are in that position too. No wonder they stuck with the ineffective publicly-funded ads as long as they could – they weren’t really suited to their purpose, but obviously judged better than nothing.
In the meantime the ALP uses its huge archive of advertisements as “a handy reminder of just how long Kevin Rudd and Labor have been campaigning on the issues important to Australia’s future…like climate change, education and a fair and balanced IR system.” What it reminds me of is that the Labor Party is the best-funded political party in the country, and advertising dollars buy votes.
It’s the disparity in campaign spend over the last 12 months, starting with the Union campaign, that explains why Howard is so far behind in the polls despite the fact that electors are mostly happy with the job that he’s done.

Posted by Graham at 7:38 am | Comments (7) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. “It’s the disparity in campaign spend over the last 12 months, starting with the Union campaign, that explains why Howard is so far behind in the polls despite the fact that electors are mostly happy with the job that he’s done.”
    I don’t think so, that is a pretty glib answer for the state of the polls. What about all the money the government has spent on advertising on behalf of the liberal party? You point out that it has been ineffective, then the reason in the polling gap would not be about spending but that people are tuning out to anything the government says.
    There is still a disparity, but this says more about the loss of morale amongst those who could have been counted upon in recent elections to fund the liberals campaign.
    It is a very wierd situation, economy good, people supposedly broadly happy with the government and the prime minister and yet huge swings measured against it. Such a complex scenario cannot be explained by union workchoices ads earlier, or Kevin Rudds ads about who he is and that he likes education. The swing was on long before the latest round of ALP ads came in.
    I don’t know about non-advertising campaign spending by the ALP over the last 12 months.

    Comment by Benno — October 24, 2007 @ 11:16 am

  2. Benno,
    The economy isn’t good, foreign debt equals half our GDP, and the country has a chronic current account deficit, we have been living on foreigners’ money. Perhaps some of the voters are waking up to this.

    Comment by mac — October 24, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  3. Benno, the nature of government advertising is that from a political view you can only deliver a general message – not a specfic one. The polls moved decisively against Howard when the IR ads started running over 12 months ago.
    Advertising works – that’s why it’s such a huge industry.

    Comment by Graham Young — October 24, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  4. Graham,
    Two weeks ago in Crikey I hypothesised that the Libs had run out of money – there were too many fires to put out and too few resources coming in.
    The phenomenon you describe is not a Queensland one. It was well and truly entrenched in the NSW division during the ’90s, and their results at state level are testament to the success of the lazy, easily-countered lunge, and to their refusal to learn from experience.

    Comment by Andrew Elder — October 24, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  5. I am not aware of any extensive research on the voting effect of the IR laws, but I think I heard/read somewhere that it had ‘only’ shifted about 3% of the TPP towards the ALP, alone giving it 50% of the vote compared with 2004.
    Intuitively I think the effect should be much greater, perhaps a 6% point swing. Do you have a handle on it Graham?
    The union workchoices ads early on were quite effective and the government didn’t put out ads of their own until too late. Do you think that they would have benefited from a GST style campaign where it was advertised even before the law was passed by parliament? Getting in first to frame the issue.
    “Advertising works – that’s why it’s such a huge industry.” – Ok good point, so I withdraw my ‘glib’ criticism. But I despair of ever understanding the why and wherefore, it is so IRRATIONAL. Immagonna check out “how advertising works” on “how stuff works” now.

    Comment by Benno — October 25, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

  6. Frankly the Coalition were spending a million dollars a day on government “information” ads proclaiming how great everything from superannuation to workchoices was – and the polls didn’t move. People have switched off from this Government. No amount of extra Liberal party advertising at this stage is going to change that.
    No matter how good the advertising, if people don’t like the brand, they are going to pay little if any attention.

    Comment by Richo — October 26, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  7. Maybe voters don’t need party ads to tell them what is going on.

    Comment by John Malcolm — November 8, 2007 @ 2:07 am

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