Only days after the education reform bill was defeated in the Senate, the government has launched what it describes as an “information” campaign, funded by tax payers, that claims to educate the public about the failed proposed reforms to higher education.
The campaign to promote understanding of the failed bill is funded by taxpayers. The Abbott government justifies this by claiming the campaign meets all necessary guide-lines to qualify not as political advertising, but as information that is in the public interest. Obviously, the campaign was prepared in anticipation of a Senate defeat.
Shadow Education Minister Kim Carr claimed this morning on ABC Radio National’s early AM program that the advertising is deliberately misleading, and falsely claims that the government will pay “around half of your undergraduate degree.” Carr has fact checked this claim with universities in Western Australia and Queensland and depending on the discipline, students will pay between 57% and 88% of the costs of their degrees.
This is a job for the ABC’s Fact Check unit, if it still exists.
The government’s goal is to create a narrative in which the LNP is struggling to introduce reforms that are positive for students financially (good) and is being thwarted in its efforts by an uncooperative opposition and minor parties (bad). In other words, the Abbott government is striving to gives us what’s best for us against a relentless opposition that doesn’t care about us.
Their goal, I imagine, is to ignite resentment and discontent in the electorate towards an obstructionist ALP and minor parties, a narrative we can expect to see strengthen in the next two years as we approach the next election.
The fact that this is a dud reform quite rightly prevented from realisation is irrelevant. There is also no mention of proposed cuts to universities in the campaign.
Tony Abbott, his ministers and backbenchers take every opportunity to persuade us that all their troubles are the responsibility of the previous Labor government. There is only so long a government can use this tactic to distract from its own incompetence. I’d suggest the Abbott government has long since passed that time limit.
The government is engaged in an ongoing election battle that began years ago when Abbott became LOTO. This most recent taxpayer-funded “information campaign” is yet another sign that Abbott is not so much concerned with good governance as he is with winning the next election. The education reform bill advertising is long-game propaganda, and contributes to Abbott’s over-arching narrative of governmental good intentions thwarted both by Labor’s legacy, and its alleged ongoing obstruction.