This review aims to stimulate on the issue of the 2007 election campaign and results, and potential policy directions for SA.
The election campaign achieved its primary goal - the end of the Howard regime.
But arguably it did not produce a level of support for SA that we should accept with satisfaction or complacency. Unless we can generate a primary vote of the order of 4% nationally, we cannot expect to be properly considered a part of the serious political landscape. Unless we can present policies which appeal to a broader section of the community, and most of the progressive Left can unite behind SA, this threshold will continue to be unattainable in the short to medium term.
Our campaign was a great effort, given our modest membership numbers and support base, limited financial resources and campaign staff, and the usual failure of the popular media to give our policies or statements any positive exposure.
The ability to gain more publicity could be improved if our national leadership and/or some party representatives had a higher profile, and to whom comments on policy or actions would be sought by the media for comment and broadcast.
Although SA issued a number of policy documents for the campaign, it’s clear that our key policy messages did not register with the majority of progressive voters. While there is no doubt that the YRAW campaign drew much of the support to the ALP that SA could otherwise have expected, we needed to give voters clear and cogent reasons to vote for us rather than the Greens or Labor.
Many voters also seemed unaware that they could vote for SA and then give their second and third preference to the Greens and the ALP. We must work to overcome this misunderstanding and ignorance in future campaigns.
We need to strengthen our appeal to all those voters who are/were concerned about job security, long working hours, quality education and healthcare for their families, financial security, securing and retaining affordable housing, and substantive action to combat climate change. These concerns involve practical and pressing issues which adversely affect the quality of life of many people. Issues such as foreign affairs, refugees, and laws which restrict civil rights and liberties - although important - are not on the minds of the vast majority of voters when they’re in the polling booth. The ALP appealed to many insecure and dissatisfied voters by suggesting that it would take action to deal with their worries. “I have a Plan for Australia’s future - an education revolution, a national plan to fix our hospitals”
We must find new ways to convey the fact that our policies deal with these everyday issues effectively by changing the system that sustains these insecurities and deficiencies.
Very few voters understand what is meant by socialism in practical terms.
The common beliefs about socialism, based on the Cold War era of repression, austerity and authoritarian rule, remain current for most voters who were born before 1970. We must work to dispel these images, to make progress in establishing what we stand for.
It’s arguable that the campaign needed to specifically indicate how our policies would be implemented. These would include a public takeover of the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas, ANL and ANR, the removal of those parts of the National Competition Policy which disadvantage the public sector, re-establishing a healthy manufacturing industry, and modifying regressive taxes like the GST.
We should explicitly state that we advocate a society that incorporates a number of core policies. These are that:
Note that certain rights and guarantees have been excluded from this set of policies if they are already included in international agreements or covenants.