Communication in the new Coalition Government

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It seems for many in the community there was a collective sigh of relief on election night, not so much in terms of the result but in the fact we could all finally get on with life without seeing either Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott plastered all over the media in election mode.

The Abbott Government has moved quickly to stamp its own style on communications as it moves through its first 100 days.

Gone is the constant news feed of stories from within in the Government and in its place is an attempt to control the media agenda, through actively deciding who will say what, when it will be said and to whom.

Probably the best example of this is the shift in communications regarding the arrival of asylum seeker boats.

Where once the media were instantly notified of arrivals, now Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is holding weekly briefings to update the media on developments.

No doubt, if there isn’t already somebody posted on Christmas Island charged with notifying the media of boat arrivals, there soon will be.

However, from a communications point of view it serves to highlight an attempt by Government to regain control of the media agenda, which under the previous Government had been lost many years ago.

This loss of any ability to drive the media agenda meant for Julia Gillard, despite introducing some laudable reforms such as the NDIS, the messages are were overshadowed by the building anticipation that Labor was about to lose the election.

As former Premier Jim Bacon used to say, disunity is death in politics and those in the senior Labor ranks no doubt are only too aware of the truth of this statement.

It will be interesting to see how effective the Abbott Government is controlling the media agenda and how long it lasts for, because if recent history is anything to go by, it will have a big impact on how long the Coalition can retain power.


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