Federal Labor : a study in inconsistency.

A ‘coup’ quickly followed by an election brings about a hung parliament. A ‘bitter deposed authoritarian’ leader mounts a leadership challenge only to be defeated and banished to political purgatory.

Welcome to the ALP, a political party seemingly hell bent on self destruction, publicly eating its own as a result of opinion polls suggesting that it is possible for someone to be less likeable than Tony Abbott. That said the current state of play in federal politics may be more indicative of the power of consistent messaging than the relative appeal of the personalities themselves.

While Mr. Abbott and the coalition have been criticised for their negativity since the last election, they cannot be criticised for inconsistency. Whether calling the Prime Minister ‘Gill-liar’ or demanding that the government ‘axe the tax’ and ‘stop the boats’, the federal opposition have been relentless, united and monotonous. From their leader down, the opposition have been on the same page when it comes to strategy. Compare this to the mixed signals being delivered by the government and you go a long way to explaining the government’s woeful performance in the polls.


The trouble began prior to the last election when Prime Minister Gillard promised the Australian people that she would not introduce an emissions trading scheme if elected, only to introduce a carbon pricing scheme upon her election. The distinction between the two is arguable; the difficulty in communicating this distinction is not. In response to the public’s growing disenfranchisement with the government the Prime Minister and her advisors decided to rebrand the PM as ‘the real Julia’, a tacit admission of the disingenuous, spin-driven public persona previously put forward by the PM.

Far from clarifying the issue, this left the public and pundits alike asking the question ‘will the real Gillard please stand up?’. In response to a potential leadership challenge by Foreign Minister and deposed PM Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister and her supporters launched into a very public airing of Labor’s dirty laundry. According to the PM the only mistake made at the time of Mr. Rudd’s removal from the Prime Ministership was not being truthful about the reasoning.

The opposition’s dominance in the polls is a reflection of the government’s failure to adopt a communication strategy based around a clear and consistent message that the the Australian voter can buy into. This may explain why the polls are so dire for Labor, at least with Tony Abbott and the Liberals you know what they are opposed to.

Also read >> “Score your leaders.”

Ellis Jones works with government and business to develop clear, consistent and effective communications strategies and solutions.