Cox: vote 1, trust, seems to be the order of the day

CPD author Eva Cox pens her early impressions of the 2010 election campaign.

Published in Crikey on 19 July 2010.

The election campaign is  on. And the first to be led by a female PM!

This is the type of change we once naively hoped would signal more attention to better social outcomes, rather than the economic ones. We thought women were more likely to put social issues on the agenda, but it doesn’t necessarily work that way. The good society, or at least a somewhat better one, needs level of trust for sharing resources for the common good.

The inevitable tensions means governments need goodwill if they are to enhance wellbeing and not damage the social fabric. Voters with low or limited trust become easy targets for political populism and fear campaigns, the so-called race to the bottom. The Coalition used this tactic time and time again under Howard and it is at it again.

Politicians often ask for trust and this was part of the PM’s case for going to an early election. In her first campaign speech, Gillard made it clear that Labor’s election pitch would focus on “moving forward” and added: “In this the forthcoming election campaign I’ll be asking the Australian people for their trust.” However, there are many indications  that this poll appears to be shaping up as a low-trust marketing exercise that will exacerbate existing divides. One Galaxy poll question, reported on Channel 10’s Meet the Press on Sunday, suggests that both major parties have problems in convincing electors of their fitness to govern.  When asked if either party deserved to be elected, more than half said the ALP did not and nearly two thirds claimed the Coalition did not.

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