Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Crikey plug

I normally resist linking to stories behind paywalls, but Bernard Keane today has used discussion of "food security" to outline the basic process of creating an effective narrative;

you establish there’s a significant problem, then you provide a solution, explain the solution and how you’re going to implement it and who will benefit.

This is not only sage advice on how to wage a campaign, but also valuable advice on how to critique one. The magic is in establishing there is a problem.

Where many people fail in trying to pursue this is that they define "problem" in their terms, rather than in the terms of their audience. The NBN provides an interesting background. The ALP successfully defined the "problem" as Australia's position on world broadband rankings and chose to solve it by a Government investment. That has been a successful strategy.

The coalition is trying to counter by identifying all government spending as bad. Certainly Malcolm Turnbull has been pursuing the suggestion that itb is the Government expenditure that is bad (on this point I'm a bit confused because someone alerted me to Malcolm writing something on this line in Online Opinion, but all I can find are posts by "Shadow Minister" which is clearly not him.)

The coalition is barking up the wrong tree - after all Telstra privatisation was never popular, especially in regional Australia.

The coalition is also failing in the most common way for combating a strategy as outlined by Keane. The necessary response once the idea of the problem has become established is to acknowledge the concern and provide an alternative solution. It does not work to deny the problem.

The example here is climate change. The coalition did not succeed with a Minchinite denial strategy, what worked for them was the Abbott acknowledgement of the problem but an alternative solution (spend not tax).

As to the actual subject of the Keane post - food security - the Australian food industry is running a campaign effectively for protection on the grounds that we need food security. Personally I don't understand why they think we should be concerned about food security.

If it came to a shooting war we would have no problem feeding ourselves. We even have enough manufacturing facilities and skills to even fabricate weapons and craft. However, I think we have no capacity to produce any electronic goods. Even our US allies now import most of their electronics from North Asia.

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