Election Moves Forward

On Saturday Julia Gillard called the election for Saturday 21st August, to “seek a mandate from the Australian people to move Australia forward”.

The phrase “moving forward” was used more than 20 times in Gillard’s speech, has since appeared in TV ads and must be one of the fastest cliches in Australian political history.

Former Labor speechwriter, Don Watson, winced when he heard the new slogan. He told the Herald Sun “When she started trotting it out I walked away after five minutes. I couldn’t stand it any more.”

Watson has long been a hunter of weasel words and hollow phrases that have little meaning in politics. “People think the only way you can make a political point or persuade people of an argument is to treat them like imbeciles. It’s like training a dog.”

He pointed to his time as speechwriter for PM Paul Keating as being slogan-lite but policy heavy. “Keating and (ex-PM Bob) Hawke managed to sell the most radical changes to the Australian economy, the free market, to the Labor side, to the unions, without doing this messaging all the time.”

Over at Crikey, Bernard Keene characterised it as a “polished but content-free opening address” while over at the Courier Mail they’re already calling for “real straight talk” rather than a “sloganfest”.

Tony Abbott has come out with his campaign based on “real action” but also a stirring jingle imploring us to “Stand up for Australia”. The electorate is bracing itself for more cliche mongering and abuse of language.