IF you’re sick of political advertisements bombarding the television set, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Forty days to go until the state election and already Victorians are starting to grizzle about the never-ending flow of commercials and tit-for-tat speeches.
Yesterday state Treasurer Michael O’Brien claimed Labor had made $30 billion in pre-election pledges without the cold hard cash to follow through on its promises. Mr O’Brien said some of the opposition’s promises were under-valued, while others had been omitted.
He pointed to Labor announcing a royal commission into family violence without allocating “a single cent” and the cost blow-out associated with 24-hour metropolitan trains.
Deputy Opposition Leader James Merlino returned fire, saying his side would not take lectures from a “dysfunctional, chaotic and sleazy government”.
He claimed Labor’s commitments would be fully analysed and the figures would be released to the public before the November 29 election date.
All this rhetoric was tied to the launch of new advertising campaigns from both government and opposition.
Unsurprisingly, the ads are focused on attack rather than championing their vision for Victoria over the next four years.
The Coalition has questioned the opposition’s financial judgment with the slogan “Victorians cannot afford Labor”. Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews also features in Labor’s new campaign, labelling the Napthine government as dysfunctional.
No wonder voters are cynical when it comes to their elected representatives. Where are the positive campaigns, the speeches which promote and praise rather than denigrate?
There is some room for optimism though. A number of news agencies now have “fact-check” reporters who research whether political promises are feasible.
The 2013 federal election was Australia’s first taste of this new format in action, with Fairfax, News Limited and the ABC all using the concept in one form or another. All the television advertisements in the world cannot protect any politician caught with a botched balance sheet.