It’s time: done with the down and dirty

Labor Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek said this campaign has reached new lows. Is she right?

Senior lecturer in global politics and policy at Murdoch University Dr Ian Cook said an increase in voices this election has seen lots of negative campaigning.

The political expert said he doesn’t believe it’s the worst we’ve had, and it won’t be the worst we get.

“Negative campaigning is a crucial part of each party’s campaign this federal election and it shows we are following in trend as it’s performed globally,” said Dr Cook.

Social media’s ability to amplify lies and slurs has seen what would be considered some of the oldest and dirtiest political tricks gaining extra traction.

“Social media platforms are a really powerful vehicle of negativity and hate on which election campaigns enable trolling and undesirable sorts of practices to happen,” he said.

“Social media certainly reveals that there are plenty of people who just want to stir things up and they don’t care what the long-term effects are.”

This campaign has seen false information and slanderous anonymous pamphlets spread, along with walls graffitied and defaming comments made toward politicians publicly.

The associated entity Getup isn’t a political party, but has been front and centre in campaigning.

Getup recently depicted Tony Abbott as a lifesaver refusing to save a drowning person, which offended lifesavers and saw an apology issued.

“That’s the sort of personal attack I don’t like, I get the message they were trying to get across, but I think there was a better way,” Dr Cook said.

“It crossed a line in terms of moving towards … what came across as a relatively personal attack on Abbott.”

Dr Cook believed the common denominator is the public is now following suit as they have become frustrated with the major parties and the party system itself, highlighted by physical attacks on politicians.

“That’s just unacceptable behaviour and it’s just appalling,” he said.

“I want good conversation, I want people talking to each other in respectful ways, yes we want to change but a physical assault on all levels is socially unacceptable.”

The political expert said the Liberal party has done surprisingly well and effectively implemented a negative campaign, as the election is looking closer than he anticipated.

Here are some dirty tricks featured in this election campaign:

Dirty tactics used in negative campaigning and public disruption

This election has seen a discussion about whether legislation is needed to clean up campaigning.

Dr Cook believed legislation is unrealistic and difficult as it’s hard to define negativity, adding if someone says they want to criticise, they should have the freedom to do so.

“It’s just a case where people have to turn their backs on it and the people running negative campaigns until they stop working, which is the only way for them to stop,” he said.

Dr Cook said his main concern is the focus on true and false claims, as we need to realise that perception is crucial and believed there are very few absolute truths when it comes to politics.

“Politics is there to address the fact that we don’t all see in the same way and that we have different perspectives, values and beliefs,” he said.

“Sometimes I’m worried there’s a belief there are true truths and true falses as if to say those people always tell the truth and those people always lie.”

Ian Cook on negative campaigning

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