How not to answer questions in parliament

Junior federal minister Stuart Robert today showed how not to answer questions about integrity and, in the process, damaged the government.

Three times the Opposition asked Robert to define the actual capacity he attended a ming industry function in China. 

Because the government has referred the matter to the head of the Public Service, Robert used the “out” clause of “the matter is under investigation, or lack of words to that effect.

By inference, Robert has given the impression he could be guilty, simply because he hasn’t provided an open and full answer.

It’s the age-old wrong PR tack to take: avoid an answer until you’re in the clear … or not. 

All well and good if Robert is hedging his bets but, as I said, he has damaged the government by not being up-front. 

See his answers here:


2020 summit

Kevin Rudd’s 2020 ideas summit has been and gone. One weekend to brainstorm the direction for a nation. Well, it was, after all, only about producing some ideas.

It will be in the next year that action has to be taken.

Some people have labelled it as a PR stunt. However, I’m not that sceptical. Rudd has shown an open approach. Sure, there will be people who say certain groups weren’t represented. But it would be impossible to be totally inclusive.

Give ’em a go. Give ’em a year.

Liberals off to a poor start

Oh, dear. The Liberals got a new leader (Brendon Nelson) yesterday and immediately showed why they lost the election.It’s still all too hard for them to say sorry to the Stolen Generation (in fact, all aborigines).You’d think the Libs would have learned a lesson or 20 following their defeat at the polls last Saturday. No, sir.Nelson said he will co-operate with Labor on things he believes are in the interest of the nation, but oppose those that aren’t.So in his first statement he says the Opposition will oppose any apology to the Aborigines. Looks like the Libs have much to learn about the Australian people.The moral obligation is blindingly obvious. I just question the PR rationale.More blog/s at: The PR Lab 

Glad all over

As the old Dave Clark Five song of the same (headline) name says, I’m glad the election is over, if nothing more than to give us a break from the tedium of campaigning (and babies). Labor’s victory was deserved, given that for the most part the Liberals simply weren’t listening. Maxine McKew, the Labor candidate for Bennelong, who, at the time of writing, seems to have ousted the Prime Minister from his seat, gave a pointer as to why the Liberals lost. McKew, a former high-profile TV journalist and first-time candidate, said she was amazed at the people she met while door-knocking and visiting shopping centres. Well, surprise, surprise. They’re called Australians, or more precisely, constituents … the people who just sacked a government … and a PM who had held his seat for 30 years. This is what politicians, particularly those in power, forget: that they represent people. If the people aren’t being listened to, they have the amazing opportunity to have their say, even if it is only once every three years. Love democracy. 🙂More blog/s at: The PR Lab 

Pure theatre from Howard and Costello

Prime Minister John Howard performed the “best” PR stunt of the election last night by appearing with Treasurer Peter Costello on Today Tonight. It was almost as good as his donation of $500,000 to save the orangutan (complete with YouTube video and sick child).


Suddenly voters are supposed to believe all is well in the House of Liberal between these two, after two years or so of tension about the leadership. Sure.


It was a cosy setting. More interesting was that it was on Today Tonight, a pretty “low-brow” infotainment program (it long ago ceased to be about current affairs or news). I imagine it’s the Liberals’ attempt to reach the “masses”, seeing as though Howard isn’t disposed to using the fm stations to push his messages.


This morning there was another interesting “sideshow. The Liberals’ used a garbage truck, featuring a poster of Howard and Costello and some other politician. I couldn’t make out who, as I was driving back from the beach, and I usually don’t look at garbage trucks.


Not to be outdone, my son then got a text/voice/viedo message on his mobile from Kevin. This was actually an excellent use of the medium. You could also enter several areas of policy and read the details. The only drawback was that it is unsolicited. But then again, so have been the pamphlets appearing in our letterbox over the past two weeks.

Election two big PR stunts

I’ve refrained from too much comment on the forthcoming Australian election. But as we near the end, with seven days of campaigning remaining, I’ve faltered. I’m fed up and bored.

Following Labor’s campaign “launch” (again) today I could not help but feel how uninspiring it all is – and not just Labor. Kevin Rudd was monotone (bla, blah, blah). So was Howard.

There is nothing visionary about either Party. It’s simply come down to a series of daily pork-barrelling promises, accompanied by the ritual PR photo opportunity. Stock-standard and boring. Does anyone remember what Howard promised yesterday?

It’s all simplistic spin – fairy floss for the masses. Where is the substance and the leadership? It’s just about spending, in turn fuelling inflation (there goes your tax cuts, folks). Well, Rudd did at least promise to spend less than Howard.

But still we will vote as lemmings – Labor or Liberal, for the most part.

More on Moose, and Dr Karl

Moose Toys finally “got it” by posting a front-page link on their web site to information about the recall of the deadly Bindy’s Beadz. Only took 48 hours … too long.

Meantime, Senate candidate Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, did something people in political life don’t normally do … apologise.

He retracted his comments about “clean coal” being a “furphy”.

Nice of you to say so, Karl – for whatever reason. But I agree with Tim Flannery and still reckon there’s no such thing as clean coal.

Burning coal simply puts rubbish in the environment. When (and if) they get around to clean coal, it will still be pumping carbon into the atmosphere; just a lesser amount.