Labor's positive pitch to "reintroduce" Rudd

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Ryan Sheales

Deputy Editor,
Election Watch

LABOR HAS released the first TV ad since Kevin Rudd was reinstated as Prime Minister.


The 30 second ad features Mr Rudd sitting behind a wood panelled desk with the Australian Coat-of-Arms behind him, lending a sense of authority. 


The Prime Minister is flanked by three framed photographs: an out of focus shot of Mr Rudd shaking hands with another man, possibly a world leader, and a shot of his wife (as well as a third image which is hard to decipher.) These pictures have been selected to subtly tell the viewer that Mr Rudd not only trots the world stage, but is also a family man. 


Mr Rudd tells viewers that voters are "sick and tired of negative politics" and want "all of us to raise the standards". In a sense, Mr Rudd is seeking to position himself above the political fray. Here is a national leader seeking to tell all political parties what the people, his people, really want.


This is reinforced later when Mr Rudd suggests people desire "both sides of politics to have a positive plan for our country's future".


In the middle section of the ad Mr Rudd lists issues he considers important (such as better schools, equitable access to broadband, etc) but does not make any new pledges or state any new policy positions. Mr Rudd is essentially listing the policy areas where he considers Labor to already have the advantage, and upon which he wishes to fight the election.


The government's achievements are not mentioned, nor is former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Mr Rudd doesn't even mention the Labor Party itself, though the ALP logo is shown on the screen as the Prime Minister is concluding his remarks (and in the authorisation message at the very end).


As well as seeking to further 'reintroduce' voters to the Prime Minister they elected in 2007 and draw a line under the bitter Labor leadership contest of recent months, this ad is seeking to draw a direct contrast with those recently produced by the Coalition. 


In recent months the Coalition has released a series of negative ads which variously;

  • Remind voters that many senior Labor MPs have viciously criticised Kevin Rudd's suitability to be Prime Minister (here and below);
  • Warn of an impending increase to the carbon tax (here and here);
  • Draw attention to a gaffe by new Labor minister, Julie Collins (here), and;
  • Accuse Mr Rudd of 'flip flopping' on the question of whether asylum seeker boats should be turned back (here).


These ads feature dark and moody atmospherics and intentionally distorted sound effects - classic hallmarks of political attack ads. 


It should be noted that these ads were predominantly placed on the Liberal Party's YouTube channel and campaign website, but not run on TV (except where picked up and played for free as part of news reports). It can be deduced, therefore, that they are largely intended to rally the Liberal/National base and online communities. 


Visitors to the Liberals YouTube channel can also watch a slick montage from a recent party rally and full party room address by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.


For now the media battle is between the Liberal Party, which is hoping to continue the negative campaign against Labor that's worked so well to date, and the Labor Party, which is hoping to put its leadership and policy woes behind it and present a fresh and positive face.