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Why don't 1 in 5 Australians want to talk about politics this election?

By Bessie Hassan - posted Thursday, 12 May 2016


A Stronger Australia. Axe the Tax. Stop the boats.

Australia's politicians love a catchphrase. More specifically, one that makes up three words (and no, they aren't "I love you").

The three word slogan has a rich history. With Obama's "Yes we can" and the well publicised 1960s pro African-American "Black is Beautiful," political propaganda has relied on those three little words in order to gain cut through for many years. And true to form, Australia's candidates are following suit, relying yet again on the gift of the shorter sentence in order to gain some traction.

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But why stop there? Why not make it a nice, lengthy, memorable poem, or better yet, an essay? As it often seems to be with politics these days, the answer lies in the media.

We are experiencing noise. This isn't an exaggeration. With only just under 2 months left until the federal election, Australia's mass media has not only stepped up the mark, it's sprinted far past it.

Obama was famously quoted only a week ago saying that "the election is not a reality show." And although he may be referring to a different continent, he's right, and the same applies to Australia.

Yes, we are lucky to have been blessed with such ready access to information, but there is no balance. With so much political coverage on the news, the consequence is that many of us are turning towards social media sites or public contribution forums in order to make decisions. But these are not reliable sources of information- hearsay and online chats with strangers are a far less engaging way to talk about politics than an in person discussion. This is a problem.

Australians have outsourced our topics of intelligent conversation to celebrity gossip and chatter instead of debating and discussing current affairs and events.

Unfortunately in modern day Australia, although diversity is key, it is also a big problem. Not only does this refer to diversity of culture, but diversity of information. There is a limited number of external sourcing used within the mass media, and cost cutting and journalism declines are already placing extra pressure on the current writers to stick to what they know will be successful. But we need to be going to a wider range of sources, finding new spokespeople, and being proactive with our political education, which points us towards the obvious and easily accessible answer of social media.

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The problem is that politicians are slowly realising they don't need to appeal to the people that actually follow politics. This is the group of informed, opinionated people who understand their opinions and are capable of making a perfectly good decision. Instead, they're targeting the uninformed. They're making jokes and taking selfies. They're uploading photos of views and their breakfast. Half of our politicians don't even have a political agenda any more.

In fact, almost every major politician is now given access to a social media advisor, blessed with the happy role of Tweeting on their behalf. But it's working well. Ever since Mike Baird so famously live Tweeted The Bachelor, politicians have upped their social media game.

This new method of appealing to the general public by humorously discussing topics that are relatable, yet completely irrelevant, is not only clogging up our news feeds, but our heads.

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About the Author

Bessie Hassan is Australias Money Expert at comparison website www.finder.com.au.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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