Australian parliamentary elections are not only contests between opposing political interests, but also contests between opposing political marketing machines. Democratic elections depend upon the ability of the opposing parties to promote their respective political agendas – in some cases the political agendas are clear ideological statements of purpose; in other cases, the agendas are clear statements of what the respective parties will seek to achieve in office; whilst some political agendas are simply that ‘we’re better than the other guy’.
The rise of electronic communications – radio, television and the internet – has played a crucial role in political advertising. Imagery of ‘Aussie battlers’, political ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ and even musical jingles have all played their roles in electing new governments and ousting incumbent governments.
|Federal Government – ALP||Elected to Office||December 1972|
|Lost Office||December 1975|
|Overview||The ALP Government of Gough Whitlam (1972-1975) was bracketed by the 1972 ‘Its Time’ campaign of the ALP and the 1975 ‘Turn on the lights, Australia’ of the Liberal-National Party Coalition.In 1972, Whitlam’s ‘Its Time’ campaign galvanised the Australian electorate’s desire for political change. After twenty-three years of Liberal-National Party Coalition government, rising numbers of younger voters (inspired by the social and political revolutions of the 1960s) were keen to enact a people’s social revolution in Australia. The ‘Its Time’ campaign was supported by a catchy tune, and accompanied by music-videos, that spoke to the values and sentiments of younger voters.The popular optimism of the December 1972 curdled over the next three years. The Whitlam government sought a fresh mandate in 1974, but its parliamentary majority was slipping away. Whitlam’s bombastic personal leadership style, political scandals and mismanagement led up climaxed with the 1975 Constitutional Crisis. Whitlam’s Government was dismissed by the Governor-General, and the Opposition (Liberal-National Party Coalition) was appointed as interim government while fresh elections were held. At the December 1975 Elections, the Liberal-National Party Coalition campaigned under the slogan ‘Turn on the lights, Australia’ – to leverage the claims of its political advertising, ‘Would the last businessman leaving Australia please turn out the lights?’.
The Coalition won the 1975 Elections with a landslide victory.
|Sources||1972 Elections – (ALP) ‘Its Time’ slogan1975 Elections – (Liberal) ‘Turn on the Lights’ slogan(this page is a rich source of audio files from Australian Politics of 1975 – scroll about half way down the page to find the ‘Turn on the Lights’ election song)|
|Victorian State Government – ALP||Elected to Office||April 1982|
|Lost Office||October 1992|
|Overview||The ALP Government of John Can (Jnr) and Joan Kirner was bracketed by its landslide victory of 1982, in which it formed first ALP state government in Victoria in nearly 30 years, and its defeat at the 1992 elections.After an extended period of opposition, John Cain led his party to victory on a tide of popular desire for political change. His government was responsible to enacting a host of legislation benefiting women, such as equal opportunity legislation. Unfortunately, Cain (and his successor, Joan Kirner) led a government that found itself playing brinkmanship with the trade union movement and allegations of policy and financial mismanagement. Popular support gradually melted away.
In the 1992 elections, the Opposition ran a negative campaign – depicting the ALP as ‘The Guilty Party. The Advertising was so successful that not only did it help win them government in 1992, the slogan was exploited again (successfully) at the 1996 elections.
|Sources||1982 Elections1992 Elections – (Liberal) ‘Guilty Party’ advertisement|
|Title: Gough Whitlam Date: c.1954-1955 Source: Wikipedia Commons Copyright statement: This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired.|