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Coalition government offer very different political ads on climate policy


Both sides are now accusing the other of being caught in the same bind.

An online federal Liberal Party advertisement quotes Anthony Albanese saying in 2018 that the market for thermal coal was over, contrasting it with his comments this year saying that Labor would maintain support for the industry.

In another online ad targeted at Queensland and paid for by Boyce, he celebrates his visit to the Coronado Curragh Coal Mine with his like-minded colleague Keith Pitt.

Coal from this mine, he boasts, will be exported from Gladstone to provide jobs across his seat and fund services across the country.

The ad contrasts with one paid for by Dave Sharma, fighting a challenge for the Sydney eastern suburbs seat of Wentworth from Allegra Spender, one of the so-called “teal independents” campaigning on climate action.

“Our transition to a low-carbon future is underway,” says Sharma in that ad, with a picture of him smiling before a bank of solar cells.

So stark is the contrast between the language used in the coal seats and those under threat from the teal independents, that some speculate it is a matter of strategy. There is even speculation in Labor circles that some candidates are being sacrificed to the teal challengers as the party defends and pursues coal seats.

It could be, says Ed Coper, a digital communications expert who has worked for decades on the progressive side of politics and is advising both teal independents and some Labor candidates in the election, that Morrison has decided to stand by his own commitments, all the while allowing “Canavan to be Canavan and Barnaby to be Barnaby”.

This allows the coalition to deliver contradictory messages to different constituencies.

Either way, Coper says there are clues to the Coalition’s strategy to be found in its ad spend.

Analysing data provided by Google and Facebook on the content of ads targeted at particular regions, he says the federal Liberal Party appears to raise climate change only as a negative when it is seeking to attack Labor as a risk to the economy.

By contrast, the Coalition’s own action to tackle climate change is raised only by individual members fighting off teal challengers, he says.

This is evidence, he says, that the Coalition is now dealing with a political quandary that has plagued Labor for years as it fought off Greens challengers in the city.

The thing is, in a world of easily accessed online advertising libraries, neither party can expect the voice it uses on one side of the country not to be heard on the other.

Cut through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Sign up to our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.

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