get ready for a campaign on freedom and hope
Josh Frydenberg has been busy. Yesterday, the treasurer made nine media appearances, for a total of 24 in the past week.
Each time, Frydenberg returned to the same phrase: If he was not vaccinated at 70 or 80%, when?
“If we don’t open up to 70, 80%, [insert name of host], when do we open? When do children go back to school? When do companies reopen? When can we go to celebrate weddings or attend funerals for loved ones? When do we move freely in our own country? People need hope, and the plan is that hope. “
At a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has returned to that rhetorical question several times, announced “another day of hope.”
Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial and get Crikey Directly to your inbox
Expect to hear this much more. It is the clearest sign that after months of difficulties, the Coalition has sharpened its message and is ready for the polls. With most of the country mired in lockdowns that are, in large part, the result of shocking failures by the federal government to launch the vaccine, the promise of freedom is the strongest electoral asset the Coalition has left.
As we wrote this week, a fabricated political battle between freedom and confinement is a cynical framing on the part of the government. But it might as well work.
First of all, the electorate is pretty sick and tired of the lockdowns and wants them to end once Doherty’s modeling targets are removed. Two polls Posted this week I suggest both.
Given that, it makes sense to paint Labor as the running of the bulls. Asking a rhetorical question, if not 70-80%, when? – Transfer the burden on Anthony Albanese to tell us when it would open.
Fundamentally, the federal opposition has said several times that support the objectives in the Doherty report. But what Labor actually supports doesn’t matter. All the government needs to do is create a perception They don’t endorse the plan and want to keep it locked up forever, just as they created a (false) perception that Labor wanted to tax retirees in poverty and put all miners out of work in 2019.
Combine this message with the reopening doubts raised by the Queensland and Western Australian prime ministers, and there will be enough to give the narrative legs.
Second, the government’s aggressive new framing contrasts more with Labor. In recent months, when the government seemed lost, Labor has repeated ad nauseam that Scott Morrison had two jobs: launching the vaccine and setting hotel quarantines.
This is Morrison and Frydenberg’s attempt to neutralize that retrospective message (in particular, the prime minister finally lost it on the Labor Party “two jobs” line in question time this week).
As the government talks about ending the lockdowns and a normal future, Labor is still wondering why there are no quarantine camps in the desert. Now that there’s a genuine sense that the launch is finally catching up (no credit to Morrison for this), the government is relying on people to look to the future, rather than a past where they couldn’t be bothered to diversify. the supply of vaccines.
Will the voters really believe it? For one thing, hope is pretty powerful and compelling right now. On the other hand, it is only powerful and compelling because the colossal failure of the Morrison government to launch the vaccine put us here first. No one should count on the electorate to remember this. It only took a few weeks of Morrison’s disguise as a regular suburban parent for voters to forget six years of dysfunction in Canberra.
Still, there is another problem with hope. At some point, the future arrives and those hopes can be crushed. The reality is that the next six months will be incredibly difficult. We don’t know if the hot summer that the government relies on will be accompanied by devastation in our hospitals. We do not know for how long the prime ministers of state will continue to chart their own course and keep the borders closed. We don’t know how much this will affect children.
If the future can get worse, it makes sense to send out a message of hope. And if you’re feeling hopeful, you might go to the polls before that hope turns to dust.