Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Nats take election campaign tips from Scott Morrison

(Headline abbreviated, original headline: Nats take election campaign tips from Scott Morrison's Liberals in Australia)

National MPs have been schooling up on the campaign tricks that helped Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison to victory in last year's "unwinnable" election.

National leader Simon Bridges' election strategists are studying the approach of Australian Liberal Party and its leader, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: RNZ/AFP

The party flew in the Liberals' New South Wales deputy campaign director Nick Westenberg to speak to the caucus on Monday at its Havelock North retreat.

And he came with a message: "No election is unwinnable."

Speaking to RNZ after his presentation, Westenberg said he had shared lessons with the National caucus from his experiences across the Ditch.

He said Morrison's success came down to a singular focus on what mattered to "the average voter" rather than the so-called "Canberra bubble".

"You need to listen to what the public is saying and talk about the issues that matter to them and understand how government is making their life easier."

The Liberals drove a brutal campaign that zeroed in on the economy, repeatedly warning that Labor's big policy proposals posed a massive risk to people's wallets.

"[National] has got a great record from the previous government," Westenberg said. "They've demonstrated that they can deliver, because they did last time."

Bridges has already signalled an intent to use that line of attack, later telling reporters: "This is a government that doesn't deliver. National will get things done."

Morrison ran a sophisticated social media game, steered in part by Kiwi creative agency Topham Guerin - a company run by two former Young Nats.

National has already stepped up its output of videos and graphics online and will no doubt want to re-engage Topham Guerin's skills closer to the election.

But Westenberg said the message was much more important than the medium.

"Social [media] gets the coverage because it's the colour and movement of politics, it's always the more fun part," he said.

"But that's not really the way it is. The most important thing is speaking the language of the voters."

The Liberals were also successful in framing the Australian election as a referendum on Morrison and the Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten.

But while National has stayed high in the polls, Bridges has struggled to win over the public, lagging well behind Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the preferred prime minister polls.

Westenberg said while the leader was important in modern campaigns, it was not the be-all-and-end-all.

"It's not a one-man-show," he said. "It's not just about the leader, and I think that'll potentially be one of the challenges for the New Zealand Labour Party.

"It seems very much a one-man-team for them at the moment."

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Addiction To Chinese Student Fees

Last week, Australian PM Scott Morrison extended its ban on foreign visitors from or passing through from mainland China – including Chinese students - for a third week. New Zealand has dutifully followed suit, with our travel ban ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Coronavirus, And The Iowa Debacle

As Bloomberg says, the coronavirus shutdown is creating the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment. On the upside, the mortality rate with the current outbreak is lower than with SARS in 2003, but (for a number of reasons) the economic impact this time ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Dodging A Bullet Over The Transport Cost Over-Runs

As New Zealand gears up to begin its $6.8 billion programme of large scale roading projects all around the country, we should be aware of this morning’s sobering headlines from New South Wales, where the cost overruns on major transport projects ... More>>

Gordon Campbell:On Kobemania, Palestine And The Infrastructure Package

Quick quiz to end the week. What deserves the more attention – the death of a US basketball legend, or the end of Palestinian hopes for an independent state? Both died this week, but only one was met with almost total indifference by the global community. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Double Standard That’s Bound To Dominate The Election

Are National really better political managers than Labour, particularly when it comes to running the economy? For many voters – and the business community in particular - their belief in National’s inherent competence is a simple act of faith. More>>

Gordon Campbell : On Dealing With Impeccable, Impeachable Lies

By now, the end game the Republican Senate majority has in mind in their setting of the rules for the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is pretty clear to everyone: first deny the Democrats the ability to call witnesses and offer evidence, and then derisively dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. For his part, does former security adviser John Bolton really, really want to testify against his former boss? If there was any competing faction within the Republican Party, there might be some point for Bolton in doing so – but there isn’t. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why The Dice Are Loaded Against Women..

If they enter public life, women can expect a type of intense (and contradictory) scrutiny that is rarely applied to their male counterparts... More>>