The word from newsrooms on the 2016 Federal Election campaigning to date is well and truly out!

That word is ‘Lacklustre’; sometimes spelt b-o-r-i-n-g.

Election campaigning isn’t meant to be a mere spectator sport, where everyone sits back and passively watches Australia’s political leaders and their parties run their playbooks as best they can until one emerges as the take-all winner for the following three years.

Without being too idealistic, election periods are a rare window of opportunity to enter into a contest of ideas, translatable into policy positions, in such a way that messages that might be drowned out or not fully expressed during times of ‘business as usual’ are framed into positive advocacy.

The target audience may just be the politicians themselves – with releases that signal support for a preferred policy position, or take a stand against a policy, or propose alternatives.

These will be read by the campaigning party machines, and for many member-oriented organisations there is no better time to put your best foot forward and be seen to be aligned to the interests of your members and fighting to gain traction.

What serves everyone least is for public debates to be running at the low ebb currently being seen.

So what can you do to help wake up the nation during the run-up to polling day?

Here are four points to consider:

  • Before you can communicate where the organisation you work for or with stands on important issues, it generally pays to revisit statements that have been made in the last three years. If you’ve reacted to the political decision making in the past, what can you say now? (At minimum this prepares you for statements when the business end of the election takes place).
  • If you’ve mounted an election-related campaign, chase it hard. Nature and the media abhor a vacuum – and if the current lackluster campaigning continues you maximise your chances of getting public attention if you chase hard.
  • If you’ve publicly stated that you’re going to critically assess the policies of the major parties as they’re announced that becomes an expectation you need to meet and to be vocal about.
  • Be flexible and opportunistic. With an election campaign that is unfolding as slowly as a never-ending summer, there is less compulsion to stick to a carefully planned schedule of communication. It there’s not a lot happening on the election front, seize the moment and put your messages on a higher rotation.

Looking for examples?
Here’s a healthy helping from the health sector:

  • If you don’t care, we can’t care
    A call to parties to commit to four key funding and policy announcements in health and aged care, namely: Reinstating $57 billion in budget cuts to health care; Safe staffing in aged care; Keeping nurses’ and midwives’ penalty rates; Standing against cuts to Medicare.
  • Deafness Forum of Australia
    This campaign site asks all parties to commit to a six-point plan to improve the lives of people living with hearing conditions.
  • National Heart Foundation
    A web page outlining six actions the next Australian Government must take to tackle heart disease.

Written by Medianet’s Media team