The Prime Minister has spent more of the campaign inciting fear of Labor than articulating the clear policy direction he will follow.
The Prime Minister has spent more of the campaign inciting fear of Labor than articulating the clear policy direction he will follow. Kym Smith

Fear campaign pays dividends for Coalition

CONTRACTING polls through the election campaign underscore the effectiveness of fear as a tactic and risk leaving the next Australian Government with no real mandate to lead.

After six years of disruptive government under the Coalition which remains clearly divided on everything from climate change and water policy through to issues of fundamental individual freedoms and leadership, that may be the real shame of this election.

Whatever your politics one thing on which there should be agreement is that only Labor came to this election with a team rallied behind a clear set of policies.

Whether or not they are policies you support is something for the individual voter to determine.

But fault can not be found with Labor's willingness to be up front with their plans well in advance of the election and to trust the electorate to the choice

The Coalition instead bet the farm on fear, one man and a campaign of negativity and untruths that were spread shamelessly through social media in an unprincipled frenzy to protect existing privilege at the expense of fairness.

Climate change is real, the Sunshine Coast faces enormous risk from coastal inundation into the future due to decisions already made, and unless common sense comes to the table fast existing vulnerabilities will only be compounded.

Instead we've been showered with trinkets by the government, bought with money that's either suddenly been pulled from the air or cynically stashed for the exercise of buying votes.

Removing subsidies that give housing investors an edge over first home buyers is not a tax.

It's a sensible recalibration of priority which finally may help shift capital to more productive investment.

Telling in the campaign's later stages has been the Scott Morrison line that now is not the time to remove a distorting investment incentive from the marketplace. Is that because the economy that only his government can manage is not travelling as well as his campaign would suggest?

A plunging dollar, further interest rate cuts to come, mounting debt and an ever-compounding infrastructure lag all indicate the future may not be as rosy under his stewardship as he suggests.

"We brought the budget back to surplus next year" has been the line of the campaign underscoring just how shamelessly some politicians are willing to contort tense and language.

The Sunshine Coast's three first-term members in Wide Bay, Fairfax and Fisher will all be returned with comfortable majorities having worked vigorously in their communities and in the absence of any genuine challenge.

They have failed though to grasp the real nettle of the biggest economic challenge facing this region which is one of the three most vulnerable places in Queensland when it comes to climate risk.

Nationally as the campaign pushed closer to polling day it has become clearer Labor will likely fall short of the seats it needs to form government.

The gut feel is that Labor has failed to ignite a national demand for change in the face of a Liberal campaign whose strength was its ability to generate fear that change would risk life as we know it.

Bill Shorten is no Bob Hawke. He presents as the leader of a united party with a clear policy platform articulated well ahead of voting day and has opened the books to scrutiny to give plenty of time for analysis and criticism.

However he has always lacked the sizzle and in front of the camera needed to truly rally support and attract the attention of an electorate that has become increasingly disengaged and much happier to have prejudices re-enforced than challenged.

Australians do not vote for the Prime Minister, a fact of which they have been reminded repeatedly of over the two terms of this government.

Yet many have remained ridiculously open to be seduced by the presidential-style Morrison campaign that has pushed a divided Coalition's many fault lines out of view for the past five weeks.

Where that leaves the country come Monday only time will tell.