Late last night, Sky News Australia revealed an embarrassing leak from Labor regarding their strict media rules set out for the federal election.
The instructions given to candidates, members, and their press secretaries appear to create an environment of strict control over speech and significantly hamper the spirit of open discussion, genuine opinion, and rigorous questioning that Australians expect of their political representatives.
Instead, Labor has decided to shut the door on comment, questioning, and debate by passing all speeches, press releases, opinion pieces, and media appearances through a strict centralised Party approval system. Existing commitments of members will be cancelled and instead subject to daily review – presumably to prevent a hapless candidate stumbling into a den or reporters.
Could it be that Labor Leader Anthony Albanese fears a repeat of the previous federal election, where both the leader and his candidates got themselves into a policy mess when challenged by the media?
The leaked letter essentially demands a highly orchestrated political theatre rigorously approved by the central Labor executive.
“We realise that this will be a very different way of operating for you and your teams, so thank you in advance for your cooperation. This new way of working is important to ensure CHQ Comms is able to focus on the most important task – helping win the election – and that we are all focused on that goal,” read a letter by the Australian Labor Party’s Director of Campaign HQ.
Gone are the days when candidates and MPs were allowed to have an opinion – or a personality. Labor has leaned into a true communist-style regime under Anthony Albanese of absolute centralised micro-managing of Party ideology.
“All interview requests must be first approved by CHQ Comms without exception. From now on, you should not be committing to any regular weekly or fortnightly spots in advance – every media appearance will be subject to approval based on the media context on that day.
“If you have any regular spots during the campaign period to which you have already committed, please get in touch ASAP,” continued the letter.
This side-steps the problem of regular Labor panellists finding themselves answering difficult questions on the day’s gaffes and mistakes. It also turns Labor’s hopefuls into pawns of a centralised mono-thought party machine.
It is a candidate’s job to answer difficult, unscripted questions related to their party and election plan.
“It will be worth your time to consult with CHQ Comms before drafting a media release to determine whether it is necessary.
“CHQ Comms will not be distributing transcripts during the campaign other than for the leader and campaign spokespeople, with a few limited exceptions.
“CHQ Comms will not be distributing Opinion Pieces during the campaign other than for the leader, with a few limited exceptions.
“CHQ Comms will not be distributing speeches during the campaign other than for the leader, with a few limited exceptions.”
If this is how Labor treats the free speech of its own candidates, how does that bode for the future of Australia if they were to be elected?