Monday, March 25, 2013

Today I Got Angry

Mr John Carlile (JP)
Today, I received from an old friend an email she had forwarded, originally sent by Mr John Carlile JP, State President (Queensland Division) of the AFC and RAAF Association. The text of the email is below, complete with spelling and punctuation errors, as it was sent to me.

I took offence at this email because it is factually wrong, and while ever it is being circulated, it’s spreading emotionally charged lies about Anzac Day, about newly arrived Australians, and about our government.

It’s not the first time this has happened. A couple of years ago, a colleague sent me an email which detailed quite graphically the ”brutal nature of Muslims”. Of course, had my colleague thought to check, she would’ve learned that the email was a hoax and the pictures were staged. This email is not as bad as that, but Mr Carlile’s “facts” are rubbish, and frankly, I can’t understand why he didn’t indulge in a little fact-checking himself. It would not have been difficult: there is an entire website devoted to it.

Here's the email - on the other side, I'll check a few facts and see where we are.

Paragraph 1

I agree – questioning “why have an Anzac day” is entirely beyond the pale. How fortunate we are that no-one has asked that question. In fact, the report, prepared by consultants Colmar Brunton, makes the assumption from the beginning that the centenary of Anzac Day would be a major event. The importance of this milestone has never been questioned. Clearly Mr Carlile has not reviewed the report, or he would know that.

I can only assume that Mr Carlile’s reference to September 2013 is a reference to the Federal Election scheduled for September 14th. Sadly for Mr Carlile, if the Coalition wins government, it is unlikely to undo any of the work already gone into planning the Anzac Day Centenary.

Paragraph 2

According to the Herald-Sun newspaper, the cost of the report was not $500,000, but $370,000 dollars, and that is in line with a study of this kind. that, in turn, is acceptable prior to a project worth $83.5 million dollars, the estimated budget for the Anzac Centenary events. Now while Mr Carlile might like to think his time in the services gives him special insight into Anzac celebrations, he is incorrect. Anzac Day is for all Australians, not just him, and the general tone of his email suggests that he does not have his finger on the pulse of anything outside of the bar at the Bundy RSL.

Paragraph 2 goes on to suggest that the government spent half a millions on a report that found that “some people would be upset by celebrating Anzac day”. Again, I suggest that Mr Carlile reads the report he’s criticising. There is exactly one paragraph that deals with risks associated with multiculturalism, and it is under the heading “Risks and Issues to Consider”.

Multiculturalism: Commemorating our military history in a multi-cultural society is something of a double-edged sword. While the 100th anniversaries are thought to provide some opportunity for creating a greater sense of unity, it is also recognised as a potential area of divisiveness. There are strong views either way in terms of how to recognise any ‘non-Australian’ military service of those who now live here, and this lack of consensus is well known. It was clear that erring by making commemorations ‘overly politically correct’ would generate more negative reactions from the general public and in particular from ADF personnel and their families, but that the community does not know what recently arrived Australians think about the whole idea. This research did not explore the views of that group, and this is an area which we suggest could benefit from quite explicit further research, if not at this general stage, then certainly at the stage of any concept testing.

It is standard practise in any report prior to a major project that note is made of potential risks. That's all this is: one paragraph, making note of a risk, out of an 84 page report. You’ll see that the paragraph above states that new Australians were not consulted on this matter. Mr Carlile’s fear-mongering is completely without basis.

Paragraph 3

Yes, we do have a lot of different nationalities march on Anzac Day. No-one is suggesting that it should be otherwise.

Mr Carlile then talks about another $100,000+ dollars to investigate further. I’d like to know his source for that, because I can find no reference to it, other than Menzies House (see below). Mr Carlile then proceeds to show his class by referring to our government as a “bunch of commie bastards”. It’s lucky for Mr Carlile that he’s in Australia where he can speak like that about the Government. If we were governed by a pack of Commie Bastards, he’d probably be shot for those words.

It also occurs to me that as someone who served during the Vietnam War, I would've thought he'd know a lot more about "commie bastard" governments than to compare ours to that.

Paragraphs 4, 5, 6 and 7

This bullshit about toning down Anzac Day is a figment of Mr Carlile’s imagination. Furthermore, the Minister heading the Anzac Day Centenary activities, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon, and the Victorian RSL President Major General David McLachlan dismissed the claims that racial tensions could arise as a result of the Centenary.
The Victorian President of the RSL said he thought it must've been a comment raised in the Federal Government's $370,000 focus group, and it had subsequently "got some legs."

"Like all these things, you've got to be sensitive about it and do it in a proper way. But, if it's done in that way, I'm sure it will be very positive."
This is Mr Carlile, making up more stories to make us afraid. I thought that was Tony Abbott's schtick.

Even Prime Minister Gillard rejected the notion of divisiveness.

Paragraph 8

Aaahh yes, those “DAMN ILLEGAL immigrants” that our taxes support. It’s likely that Mr Carlile is referring to asylum seekers who most of us know are  not illegals. The Refugee Council of Australia explains it like this:
Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are neither engaging in illegal activity, nor are they immigrants.

The UN Refugee Convention (to which Australia is a signatory) recognises that refugees have a right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents. The Convention stipulates that what would usually be considered as illegal actions (e.g. entering a country without a visa) should not be treated as illegal if a person is seeking asylum. This means that it is incorrect to refer to asylum seekers who arrive without authorisation as “illegal”, as they in fact have a right to enter Australia to seek asylum.

In line with our obligations under the Convention, Australian law also permits unauthorised entry into Australia for the purposes of seeking asylum. Asylum seekers do not break any Australian laws simply by arriving on boats or without authorisation.
As for new arrivals being offended by our Anzac Day traditions, I think that’s Mr Carlile’s imagination once again. I was unable to find a single instance reported, although there are always the warnings. I have, however, seen all sorts of men and women from around the world attending Anzac Day services and marches. They are honoured to be here.

I suppose this craziness has blown up again because Menzies House, a conservative “think tank” and online community, recycled the same report a few a weeks ago, and turned it into a whinge-fest. Once again, the mention of multiculturalism and potential danger is one paragraph in a risk assessment which is one page long, as part of an 84 page document.

The Menzies House article does mention that horrific sum of almost $500,000 (being the original $370,000 plus $105,000 for an additional report to fill in the gaps regarding recently arrived Muslims - or maybe to test the branding of the logo, depending on who you ask). Almost half a million dollars eh? Out of an estimated budget of $83.5 million dollars to stage the Anzac Centenary. Apparently that’s a huge amount when we’ve never had to pay anything before.

In all likelihood, we’ve never been planning the centenary of Anzac Day before either, and in case Mr Carlile or Allan of Menzies House is in any doubt, the centenary of Anzac Day will take a lot more organisation than the chook raffles they’re used to.

Now, would Mr Carlile like to send another email out to everyone on his mailing list, correcting the errors he made in his original email, and reminding them to read the source material before they make fools of themselves?

Conspiracy Theories

For some, it’s God (or Allah or Buddha or Obi-Wan Kenobi). For others, it is science. For too many, the ultimate source of the truth simply doesn’t exist because they don’t think about. They accept what they are told without stopping to question whether they are hearing fact or fiction. Carl Sagan’s novel “Contact” invites us to question our faith. Ultimately, “Contact” forces us to re-examine our faith. Is science God?

As an atheist, my best answer to that question is a resounding ‘no’. Science is science, and science is my source of the truth. I accept that some parts of my personal truth are yet to be proven by science, but in accepting those few fuzzy truths-in-potentia, I don’t reject science. In fact, I believe that my truths will be proven in time, and proven by science.

These are the questions I’ve been pondering today when I should’ve been learning about problem solving techniques and root cause analysis. It’s possible that I stumbled into the wrong webinar. In between DMAIC, PDCA, fishbones and 5xWhy (hands up if these are familiar terms to you), I kept thinking back to a bizarre twitter exchange I had last week with the Galileo Movement and some of their followers.

The entire exchange was dusty with hostility, because the Galileo Movement is on a mission to discredit climate science: it’s all just a global conspiracy involving literally millions of people who want to transform the entire planet into a communist utopia.

A new twitter buddy pointed me towards an excellent blog post on the which includes a response to the Galileo Movement’s pseudo scientist, Malcolm Roberts, by the SMH’s Environment Editor Ben Cubby. It’s fair to say that they have a little history, although when talking about the Galileo Movement, hysteria is the more accurate term. It’s ironic then, that the climate science deniers refer to the rest of us as “climate alarmists”.

In any case, we seem to have a “debate” which has lasted years longer than it should’ve done, given the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence that indicates that climate change is real. This pie chart (right)puts the evidence for and against climate change in perspective. Many climate science deniers are accusing the United Nations and 99.83% of the global science community of a massive conspiracy to create a world-wide terror to drive the world towards global socialist governance.

Conspiracies are remarkable things. The fact that the word ‘conspiracy’ is usually followed by the word ‘theory’ suggests that most conspiracies are ideas or concepts or pure fiction rather than realities. The word ‘conspiracy’ is often followed by the word ‘nut’ too, which suggests the kind of people who indulge in such theories. In any case, we turn to Wikipedia for the ultimate definition of a conspiracy theory:
“A conspiracy theory purports to explain an important social, political or economic event as being caused or covered up by a covert group of organisation.”
In America, the CIA tends to live at the heart of a lot of conspiracy theories, from who killed JFK to who was responsible for the September 11 attacks. In Australia, we don’t have as many conspiracy theories, although last week’s non-spill may have sparked a few…
But how – and why - does a conspiracy start? Is it a response, a way to explain something which has already happened? Or is it started deliberately, as a way to justify a set of actions which haven’t happened but will as a response to the conspiracy? There’ll be a money trail or an argument about morality, but also a logic trail, and twisting through each theory, half-truths, untruths, distractions, obfuscation and accusation.

And what of the motives? Why would people want to be involved with a world-wide campaign to either spread fear about climate change, or cast doubt on science to prevent action on climate change?

The first motive is, as always, money. Who stands to lose from action of climate change? Obviously the power producers would not be happy, as they would be penalised if they continued to pollute. Car producers and Big Oil are equally scared: any major changes to car emissions regulations means finding new ways to make cars go. The ripple effect means that everyone downstream, who uses electricity and/or cars, is likely to face some upheaval and price hikes.

Alternately, the Government can accept the reality of climate change and introduce ways of encouraging big polluters to clean up their act. Panic! Less than two years ago, Tony Abbott predicated the end of life as we know it, should the dreaded Carbon Tax be introduced.

“Whyalla will be wiped off the map by Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. Whyalla risks becoming a ghost town, an economic wasteland, if this carbon tax goes ahead and that’s true not just of Whyalla, it’s also true of Port Pirie, it’s true of Gladstone, it’s true of communities in the Hunter Valley and the Illawarra in New South Wales, it’s true of Kwinana in Western Australia, it’s true of the La Trobe Valley, Portland, places like that in Victoria. There’s not a state and there’s hardly a region in this country that wouldn’t have major communities devastated by a carbon tax if this goes ahead.”
 It’s all about fear, about making us more afraid of a Carbon Tax than we are about the possibility of a future environmental catastrophe...and you do that by making the Carbon Tax seem both terrifying and unnecessary.

Motive number two is religion and particularly, the Christian religion. The very idea that the planet might be undergoing some kind of change brings to mind the possibility of evolution…and if evolution is possible, the Book of Genesis becomes less of an absolute and more of a theory. Obviously, casting doubt on the Bible is never going to be acceptable. It can be a bit of a quandary for religious types, who struggle to dismiss the science of evolution while still encouraging parishioners to care for God’s earth.

It’s not surprising that the two major motives for a movement against climate change are money and power, and I think it’s fair to call this minority of climate science deniers a conspiracy – at least as fair as it is to call climate science a conspiracy or Agenda 21 a conspiracy...but I'm still not sure about the logistics of a conspiracy involving millions of people.

That's for another day.

Stay tuned for more musings on how we came to stuck in this crazy debate.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Men Behaving Badly: Chamberlain Executive

Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one, but it's better that they remain private.

Last night, Joe Waddington, boss at executive recruitment firm Chamberlain Executive and conservative tweeter strayed from his usual anti-Julia Gillard-hating, climate change querying routine to venture into the world of personal insult.

Last night on Twitter, Joe Waddington called journalist and media personality Wendy Harmer "fucking ugly" and suggested that she needs plastic surgery.

Human Resources is a very special area in the world of business; HR practitioners must be absolutely discreet, sensitive and trustworthy, as well as being savvy business operators in a highly competitive space.

Chamberlain Executive's own website - which is linked from Joe Waddington's Twitter profile - makes the following claims:

Joe Waddington, Managing Partner of Chamberlain Executive, has over thirty years’ experience within the human resources consultancy and executive recruitment sector. During this time he has successfully delivered a variety of retained C level assignments throughout Australia and the Pacific Rim.

Joe is personally involved in ensuring the successful delivery of executive recruitment assignments and strategic consulting for a variety of clients, whilst also offering an ongoing career management service to individuals.

Chamberlain Executive is committed to providing uncompromising, discreet and dedicated support to ensure every clients objectives are achieved on each and every occasion."

Perhaps Joe Waddington and his team are discreet and professional in their business dealings. His comments regarding Wendy Harmer were neither discreet nor acceptable from anyone, and particularly not from anyone who makes their living in the 'people business'. His comments about Ms Harmer were so vile that even noted right-wing tweeter @Correllio backed away from them.

After copies of the offensive tweets started flying around Twitter last night, Mr Waddington started to block people who criticised his tweets. In fact, he blocked me, so it's been difficult to follow what has happened in the last 12 hours or so. Regardless, he should know that the Internet is forever. I suspect the offensive tweets have been deleted, but screenshots of the now-infamous tweets are easily available.

Right now, my role does not involve executive recruitment, but plenty of the people I interact with on social media could be needing the services Chamberlain Executive offers. I suggest you think before retaining Chamberlain: however glossy they may look on the outside, what are they thinking? Just how professional are they, if their Managing Partner thinks its appropriate to call anyone "ugly" on a public forum? If he would say this about Ms Harmer, what might he say about you, your staff and your business...and where might he say it?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mortal Enemies

Down here in Australia, we can feel isolated from the really big items on the world agenda. Most of the action seems to happen in the Northern Hemisphere, and those of us below the equator are just watching from the sidelines, catching the occasional stray ball that heads our way: an Olympic Games, a royal visit or a G20 meeting. It makes me wonder how much really interesting stuff goes on in the world that we never hear about.

For example, did you know that last week, the Oklahoma House passed a new bill which will prohibit local governments in that state from entering into any agreements with any organisations that have been officially accredited by the United Nations?

What’s that, you say? One of the flyover states on the other side of the world doesn’t want its local councils getting cosy with the UN? Is that kind of legislation even necessary? Does the great state of Oklahoma do a lot of business with organisations recognised by the UN?

Well, the Republicans in Oklahoma certainly don’t. According to Republican House member Sally Kern, it’s essential that proud state shuns all contact with the UN. it’s all about something called Agenda 21.

Hey, don’t feel bad. I didn’t know about Agenda 21 either, until the Galileo Movement tweeted about it last week.

Sometimes it’s better that we don’t know what’s going on in the Northern Hemisphere, although sadly, it’s looks as Agenda 21 is about to become one of those terms we hear in reference to Australia.

Rather than an infestation of alien life-forms or a new corporate management fad. Agenda 21 is, according to a paper by Graham Williamson and quoted by the Galileo Movement,

…a fundamentally undemocratic, sovereignty threatening, UN designed and monitored program which is being banned overseas because of the threat it poses to fundamental human rights. Agenda 21 is found to pose a serious risk to freedom and human rights and is unnecessarily foreign in its origin and control.

Run! Run away! Agenda 21 is coming to take away your rights as a human being! Don’t worry about who is the preferred Prime Minister in the Neilsen Poll – this Agenda 21 business is going to threaten our right to exist as a country! We won’t have a PM because we won’t be Australia any more! This is serious!

But before we start commandeering the boats (you know which boats) and steering them back from whence they came, I’m on a mission to find out what Agenda 21 is, and why we should be afraid. Call me cynical, but a tweet from the Galileo Movement holds about as much credibility as a Milli Vanilli hit. I think I’ll do my own research, thanks anyway.

And there it is, is black and white: a statement from the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, June 2002 and revised January 2004.

Agenda 21 is an international blueprint that outlines actions that governments, international organisations, industries and the community can take to achieve sustainability. These actions recognise the impacts of human behaviours on the environment and on the sustainability of systems of production. The objective of Agenda 21 is the alleviation of poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy worldwide while halting the deterioration of ecosystems which sustain life.

The document goes on to present some basic detail:
Agenda 21 is divided into four sections:

• Social and Economic Dimensions –

examining the underlying human factors and problems of development, along with the key issues of trade and integrated decision-making;

• Conservation and Management of Resources for Development–

the largest section of Agenda 21, presenting the range of resources, ecosystems and other issues, all of which must be examined in detail if sustainable development is to be achieved at global, national and local levels;

• Strengthening the Role of Major Groups–

looks at the social partnerships necessary if sustainable development is to be a reality. It recognises that Government and international agencies cannot alone achieve sustainable development and that the community, through representative and industry organisations, must be a key player in the development of policy and in achieving the necessary changes; and

• Means of Implementation–

examines the question 'how do we get there?'. The section looks at the resources which must be mobilised in support of sustainable futures. While finance and technology are key elements, this section also deals with aspects of education, institutional and legal structures, data and information and the building of national capacity in relevant disciplines.

Now according to the Galileo Movement, that wily group of Climate Science Deniers I discussed a few weeks ago, the Government version is not the truth. In fact, Mr Williamson states in his report.

“Agenda 21 is being implemented in the U.S. under various names to deceive the unsuspecting public as to the source and real purpose of the program. However identifying the programs is relatively easy. All you have to do is look for the keywords……..Everything associated with this program is deceptive. The language they use, the names they give the projects, the means by which they lure local governments into the trap and then slam the door - absolutely everything is deceptive from beginning to end.”

Ooooh – aaaah. Everything is deceptive, eh?
The only thing deceptive about Agenda 21 is how the Climate Science Deniers, that minority group of conservatives who reject the weight of scientific knowledge because it doesn’t suit their agendas, has hijacked the term and made it something menacing.

But don’t think for a moment that this is an Australian phenomenon. Like so many of our cultural influences, blame America. One driving force behind the demonization of Agenda 21 is the John Birch Society, an American radical right-wing political group whose members are somewhere out there beyond Tea Party Land. This group rose to infamy in the 60s when they stated that the Civil Rights Movement was a creation of communists. The JBS doesn't like communists.

In fact, if we had to catalogue the concepts that the John Birch Society fights against, the big two would be global governance and communism, followed by liberals of all kinds, social welfare, fluoride in drinking water, parent teacher associations (PTAs), the United Nations, free trade, taxes, Democrats, women’s liberation, the Reserve Bank, non-Christians, economic meddling and the entire 1970s. I could go on, but I had to stop reading there. I was losing the will to live. 

Thankfully, the JBS is not a mainstream political force in the USA, just as the Galileo Movement is not a player in the Australian scene, despite having Alan Jones as its public face. Both are enamoured of this Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theory and both are considered too extreme to worry about.

The greatest fear amongst these people isn’t that the world continues to exist with developed nations hoarding the wealth and developing nations still trying to stagger out of poverty and into a world unwilling to share. It's that someone, or anyone, or the rest of the world, might just decide to redistribute some wealth. If anyone – me, you, a Labor Government or the United Nations tries to balance the inequality, we’re socialists or worse. Just check out the John Birch Society homepage – a veritable treasure trove of dangerously extreme right-wing propaganda...or, if you're that way inclined, the biggest conspiracy theory ever hatched.

There will be more on this fascinating plot to steal the world. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 15, 2013

CAAANBRA: Cut and Colour

Some women rave about that hour or two or three that they spend in the salon being coloured, cut and tjuzjed. It’s special girl time, when a woman and her stylist can gossip about Taylor Swift’s army of exes, discuss the latest in nail art and hem lengths and transform a normal woman into someone with potential. Alternately, the client can close her eyes and pretend to be anywhere else while her trusted hair artiste wields chemicals, scissors and hot air blowers in a blur of smelly activity. In any case, a visit to the hairdressers is rarely an intellectual experience.

It looked as though my appointment at the budget salon was going the same way, until my stylist asked what I was reading on my iPad. It was twitter – my post-work preference for catching up with the political to-ings and fro-ings of the day.

I’ll admit, I was not shocked to learn that 20 year old Natasha isn’t interested in politics. She’s twenty, and hasn’t voted before. I was prepared to abandon the conversation in favour of some blessed silence (not that silence is ever popular in the hair salon on Thursday night) but no. Natasha had to tell me that she hates Julia. Hates her. Hates her with the heat of a thousand suns.

“Why”, I asked, genuinely interested to learn why a woman who is not interested in politics has such a vehement hatred for our first female prime minister.

She shrugged her shoulders and answered “Dunno.”

I followed up: “Has the PM done anything specific, passed any legislation that you’re not happy about?” I was giving her the chance to raise the Carbon Tax, or talk about Kevin Rudd’s exit from Prime Ministership, or Ms Gillard’s refusal to support marriage equality or her position on asylum seekers.

“Dunno”, she shrugged again, pointy-ended comb flying. “Dunno what she’s done. I just hate her.” Natasha made a disgusted, puckerface shudder that took over her whole body.

My inner Bryant Gumbel wanted to ask “But Whyyy?” when my true lefty self took over.

“Oh. Would you like me to tell you about some of the stuff she’s done?”

“Oh Gawd, No! I’m not interested in politics! Really I don’t care!”

The last thing in the world that I wanted to do was provoke the young woman who was cutting and colouring my hair…and who, in just a few minutes would be pouring heated wax onto my eyebrow area. I should’ve stopped.

I kept talking. “Is it the Carbon Tax?” I asked, moderating my tone to sound effortlessly neutral.

“I don’t like tax. Why would I want to pay more of it?” she asked hotly.

This one deserved an explanation, so I explained.

“Oh.” She paused. Even the frantic hair-related activity stopped for a moment….and then they started again. “Well, I still hate her. She’s vi-i-i-ile…but she’s better than the budgies bloke. He’s scary! I guess if you think Julia’s okay, you probably hate Abbott!”

I was impressed. I did not for a moment think that she would know the name of the Leader of the Opposition. I hmmmed an agreement.

Nodding is dangerous when you’re seated in at a stylist’s station. How every hair salon on earth hasn’t been classified as a major Hazard Facility is a mystery to me. President Obama could shut down Guantanamo Bay and replace it with a chain of salons and probably achieve the same result. There’s the too-hot/too-cold water torture, the unqualified agony of sitting for hours in an uncomfortable chair with nothing to look at except a poorly lit reflection of your own face. There's a horrifying selection of blades, lethal chemicals designed to change the molecular structure of human tissue, lots of electricity, hot wax, tweezers…

In any case, when your stylist is working on your hair, don’t nod, even if its to signal your agreement regarding the scariness of Tony Abbott. But that was just about the only time he was mentioned. Natasha thinks he’s nowhere near as good as the good Aussie bloke that Kevin was. Is.

“Fair shake of the sauce bottle, Sal! Kevin’s a great Aussie bloke. There aren’t any other great Aussie blokes in politics. We need more like Kevin. He’s awesome! I mean, who else would say ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’?”

Aaahhhh, does Natasha’s hatred of Julia stem from the simple truth that here, in the heart of Griffith, Julia isn’t Kevin?

Natasha doesn’t think she’ll vote this time. She can’t bring herself to vote for her local member – even if it is Kevin – because that’s a vote for Julia. She won’t vote for the Liberal candidate, because that’s a vote for Budgie Boy. She wouldn’t vote for anyone else either: “Why vote for anyone else? Y’gotta be on the winner, doncha!”

I don’t know how much this little pocket of eastern Brisbane suburbia resembles the western suburbs of Sydney, but I suspect it’s more than many want to admit.

Meanwhile, one of Labor’s big problems is how to win the hearts and minds of people who hate Julia Gillard but have no clue as to why. I doubt Natasha is the only one. How do you argue against pure, illogical emotion?

I pondered this, though not hard. I was distracted by the off cuts of hair, clinging to my neck with maliciously itchy intent.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Caaanbra: Failure to Lose

Yesterday, Sky News Australia’s political guru Peter Van Onselen tweeted "No Liberal candidate is allowed to do national media until AFTER they are elected...inspiring stuff when govt traveling so badly." This comes just a couple of months after The Age reported that Liberal candidates had been urged to shut down their social media accounts.

I suspect that it's not just the candidates, but also the sitting Liberal members, and even their leader who is being censored. With just over six months until the Federal Election, what can you say about a campaign strategy that discourages any sniff of communication that hasn't been entirely pasteurised, homogenised and dare I suggest, scripted, approved, rehearsed, spray-tanned and botoxed by the Party Machine. It's an approach that stinks of a lack of trust in the leader, every sitting Liberal member and every Liberal candidate.

Think for a moment. The Liberal Party Campaign does not trust it’s own people to communicate its message...and yet it expects us to vote for them and trust them to run our country? Based on recent polls, we probably will vote for the Coalition in great enough numbers to see them form government, but that’s assuming that t here’s no game changer between now and the election.

So the Liberal plan looks clear enough. Be vewy vewy quiet, let the ALP trip over themselves, stoke the dislike of Julia Gillard in a series of carefully crafted media events, and wait for the country to vote against the ALP. Next Step: claim victory early in the evening of September 14.

It's the inevitable Claytons strategy. After all, how do you plan communications for a political campaign that's short on both policy and personality? Even the Silent Treatment is risky, particularly when it's difficult to keep the team quiet. If the Campaign can't trust the candidates to say the right thing, it's unlikely they can be trusted to say nothing.

Fopr example, it might be difficult to keep Andrew Laming quiet. Despite having been in parliament for nine years, those years have been eventful. There were enquiries about $67,000 worth of dubious printing costs, his claim to be a social media expert (versus the reality that his social media activities are often ill-considered) and last week’s revelations that he had included a shot of a man flashing his man-bits at the camera in his latest brochure. It seems that communication is not really his forte: that's dangerous for a politician.

Still, credit where credit is due. Mr Laming has not tweeted for 13 days. The same can’t be said for members of the shadow cabinet, who must be exempt from the ban on social media.

Meanwhile, two of the higher profile Liberal candidates are Mal Brough, who’s contesting Peter Slipper’s seat of Fisher, and Bill Glasson, who is taking on Kevin Rudd in Griffith. Neither of them of are tweeting, although Mal Brough does has a twitter account of sorts.

Social media isn’t the only perceived danger zone, though. Here in Griffith, I’ve heard almost nothing of Bill Glasson since he was announced as the Liberal Candidate for Kevin Rudd’s seat. Surely the Liberal executive must believe he has a chance to beat Mr Rudd; as a former head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Glasson has name recognition already, and would be a good candidate for most seats – but Kevin Rudd has enormous loyalty and in the past year, has been an energetic and highly visible local member.

Despite the LNP directive, Bill Glasson appeared on Nine’s Today Show in mid February, and accused Mr Rudd of neglecting his electorate.

STEFANOVIC: He [Rudd] is 61% in the polls. He is 61% as the favourite PM. He’s been in that seat since 1998. He is always up there holding community gatherings. He is very busy in his local electorate. He hasn’t neglected them. You can’t win!
GLASSON: I can win, Karl! I can win. He has neglected his electorate, I am sorry. He’s just come back to re-find the electorate. I think he’s been using the electorate, in many respects, as a springboard for his own career and, as I said, as I move around and talk to the people of Griffith there is a significant mood for change.

It’s rare that I agree with Karl Stefanovic, but in this case, he is correct. If you’re in any doubt about just how much Mr Rudd does around Griffith, check out his Facebook page, where every appearance in the electorate is detailed, most with photographs. Perhaps Andrew Laming could take some lessons from @KRuddMP on how to use social media effectively.

Selections from Mr Rudd's Facebook page from the past few days
 Looking beyond the election, if the Liberals can keep their powder dry until September 14, what can we expect from a Liberal Prime Minister and Coalition Government? With his minders shielding him from serious political interviews, is it likely that Prime Minister Abbott – if that’s what happens – will be as open with the media as previous Prime Ministers?

Or will he continue to prepare for major public appearances with a script, fake tan and a comb-over? Will he agree to quick chats here and there, without becoming becoming silent and visibly shaking for well over a minute, because he needs to control his urge to bop his media opponent on the nose? Will he take questions during press conferences, or like George W Bush, will he read a scripted statement and then vacate the podium?

How much media freedom would Liberal ministers have? Last week Scott Morrison spoke his mind about asylum seekers in the community and Tony Abbott backed him, despite Morrison’s words being some of the most appalling sentiments ever expressed by a politician. Also last week, Joe Hockey couldn’t articulate his own party’s policies regarding compensation related to repealing the carbon tax, but he spoke anyway, and then had to clean up the mess he made. Poor Joe has been the subject of Liberal Party concern for years now. "Treasurer Hockey" might deliver the Budget, but will he be trusted to sell it?

Cory Bernardi is another worry - he virtually removed himself to the opposition backbench after revealing that his personal values are lightyears to the right of the Libs. Julie Bishop couldn’t be trusted to keep the contents of confidential security briefings to herself. Christopher Pyne can always be counted on to say something ridiculous, and of course, Andrew Laming is never far from some kind of stupidity. Just give him an ipad, a twitter account and a spare half hour and he can get busy insulting people all over the country.

Despite all of that, I have more fundamental concerns as a voter, and for the voters of Australia. Is it acceptable that some of our politicians and candidates are being discouraged from speaking to the voters? No-one says they have to communicate with their electorates, but it's usually considered a big part of the job of campaigning and governing. This bizarre strategy might see the Coalition take power, but is it a win? Or is it just a failure to lose?