The positive side to negativity

In The Australian today:
“According to the ALP’s “A New Way” ad, “the old politics of negativity just won’t work”. Luckily, there’s a new politics of negativity to replace it: so far, 60 per cent of the election ads posted on Labor’s website involve attacks on the Coalition, with the proportion for the Coalition being similar.”

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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26 Responses to The positive side to negativity

  1. And Another Thing says:

    No matter what promises were made, Labor has no choice. When there’s nothing positive to say about yourself, there’s no other way than to be negative about the opposition. Simple.

  2. derFRED says:

    I look forward to Labor in opposition being as “positive” as they wanted the Coalition to be.

    I hope PM Abbott throws that back into their face every day. For 30 years (estimate for how long it will take to pay down the debt disaster these fucking criminals have left).

  3. dd says:

    “According to the ALP’s “A New Way” ad, “the old politics of negativity just won’t work”. Luckily, there’s a new politics of negativity to replace it

    That’s very good.

  4. Alfonso says:

    Kev is now at Julia’s primary 34% level.
    All he has left is the marxist academic vote, the public service with nowhere else to go and auto workers desperate for me to subsidise their lives. Henry need not worry himself about the details, it’s all over now baby blue.
    Tony already has dead wood to deal with in the form of the weasel CAGWarmer Hunt.

  5. Rabz says:

    the weasel CAGWarmer Hunt

    Exile to the back bench would be fitting.

    BTW, I’ll be going out of my way to avoid being assailed by the ALP’s campaign of unrelenting negativity. I’m yet to see one political ad on Fox Sports.

    I don’t enjoy having my intelligence insulted by the braindead shills for the worst government in this country’s history.

    Just go away and get out of our lives, please!

  6. candy says:

    I don’t think in general many people access a political party’s website so the ads there don’t have impact.
    Labor is trying out their scary ones on TV, same old.
    Far as I can tell Libs have moved away from negativity. They don’t need that.

  7. Cato the Elder says:


    Fortunately the EPL has started up again, so there’s plenty of football to watch.

  8. Ivan Denisovich says:

    The whole negativity angle is a reflection of Labor’s culture of entitlement. The chutzpah is astonishing given this government’s record of failure which ranks it either first or second (alongside the Whitlam horror show) as Australia’s worst federal government. Labor arguing that opposing is evil, except of course when they oppose. Then it’s okay:

    And yet, as Howard also recalled, barely a few years later the Howard government met stiff Labor opposition to the privatisation of Telstra. “Let’s get negativity in perspective,” Howard said. “I can’t think of a single economic reform that wasn’t trenchantly opposed by the Labor opposition during our years in government.”

    If precious Labor types keep this up, next thing you know free speech will be under attack. Oh, wait…….

  9. Tiny Dancer says:

    The best example of negativity in the last 6 years is Krudd’s effort against TLS and the ALP generally. Next in turn the ALP’s negativity about Krudd.

    The hypocrisy which followed Krudd’s ascension to PM really just cemented in how utterly useless and banal the ALP has become.

  10. Norma says:

    Fairfax are running a poll: Do you think Labor’s negative ad campaign will be a winner with voters?
    Currently: Yes 19%, No 74.
    Total votes 7190
    And this s Fairfax.
    Gotta love this comedy show!

  11. braddles says:

    People say they don’t like negative ads but everyone in politics knows they work. The aim is not to get people to like the ads, but to influence them by putting a message out there.

  12. Splatacrobat says:

    Negative ads only work when they tell the truth not just spin a convenient lie.
    The libs should show preface their next ad with the following:
    Here are a number of Labor supporters supporting Kevin Rudd’s plea for a new way.

  13. papachango says:

    Speaking of negative Labor ads, Rudd’s latest pearler (what will you lose if Abbott gets in and rips $70mil out of the budget?) keeps appearing in my Facebook feed as a ‘suggested post’

    How do I get rid of it?

  14. Dr Faustus says:

    After the 2012 carnage in Queensland, on the truly, hog-whimperingly stupid would think the punters respond well to political attack ads.

    Fortunately, these people work for the ALP.

  15. Mike of Marion says:

    #964890, posted on August 19, 2013 at 11:46 am

    On the RHS of the header there should be symbol that has a drop down function where you can elect what to do with it!!

  16. Mike of Marion says:

    Mike of Marion

    #964897, posted on August 19, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Hover to the RHS of sort and a symbol will appear – open that and it offers you two choices

  17. Fisky says:

    WTF happened to the much-touted “Liberal advertising blitz”, which was meant to start about two days ago?? Why are we only seeing Labor ads?

  18. Fisky says:

    OK, I found one new ad by the Liberals

    It’s garbage. No connection with viewers, no psychological effect. Well done, Brian!

  19. papachango says:

    Thnaks Mike. Though if it costs the ALP money each time it displays it on my feed I’m tempted to leave it there and add some polite abuse in the comments each time it appears…

    After all, why should I help them save money if they can’t do their digital targeting correctly..

    The existing comments are all pretty partisan but I reckon just as many anti-ALP as pro….

  20. Robert Blair says:


    WTF happened to the much-touted “Liberal advertising blitz”

    Sometimes one has to have the nerve to do nothing. So far, the Libs have benefited mightily from Labor’s advertising blitz.

    Courage, mon ami.

  21. papachango says:

    Courage, mon ami.

    Indeed – the wife (who is no fan of Rudd nor the Greens) pointed out that the Libs just didn’t get it as they weren’t really on social media like Twitter and Facebook, and therefore not connecting with the younger generation.

    I pointed out that KRudd used it to show off his shaving cuts and asked if it was really something Abbott should try to match?

    Though I’m not putting the bubbly on ice just yet – rather I’m praying to Amon-Ra, Zeus, Yahweh, God and Allah that Abbott doesn’t fuck up for the next 19 days or so…

  22. Bruce says:

    When your enemy is making mistakes, why interrupt ? Napoleon said something like that over 200 years ago and its still true. Rather like the old bull and the young bull.

  23. Robert Blair says:


    praying to Amon-Ra, Zeus, Yahweh, God and Allah

    In the light of Exodus 20:3 and 34:14 you probably should at least put God at the head of that list.

  24. papachango says:

    Sorry I’m not familiar with OT quotes and too lazy to look them up. I’ll pray to Shiva and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and whoever the god of not screwing up is instead.

  25. entropy says:

    Not so much an OT quote as the number one in the Ten Commandments.

  26. Jim Rose says:

    SEE FOR John Geer’s Attack Ad Hall of Fame with link to the best of the bets since 1952 in US presidential elections. greer argues that

    negative ads are positive—negative ads focus on important political issues and give voters critical information about differences between candidates. Attack ads do not degrade, but rather enrich the democratic process.

    after reviewing the ads, you must agree with him.

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