Tech Updates

Liberals launch website to lure swing voters and take on activist groups

 

Outgoing Liberal party federal director Andrew Bragg (left) shakes hands with Andrew Hirst, the new party director in Sydney on Friday. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Australia’s Liberal party has launched a new website that it says will help seduce swing voters its way and challenge rival campaigning organisations such as Getup!.

The acting Liberal party director, Andrew Bragg, launched “The Fair Go” website on Saturday, which is operated by the party.

Bragg used his speech to the party’s federal council as a call to arms to modernise or perish. He said the party had to deal with a “cashed up cabal” of opposition to its interests.

Senior members of government and Liberal figures have been taking aim at organisations such as Getup!, which have excelled at developing novel and effective digital campaigns at a time when the Liberal party has struggled to keep pace.

The Fair Go site appears to be, in part, a response to some of these new types of campaigning and, according to Bragg, will help bolster the party’s efforts to “seize the opportunities in the digital age”.

The WordPress site includes posts with titles such as “Women are just people”, “Who’s your grand-daddy?” and “From laissez-faire to much, much fairer”.

It also includes three “words of the week” that will change weekly. The inaugural locutions are “needs based, union and slamming”.

A review of the party’s last election campaign by Andrew Robb set out a series of concerns with the Liberal party’s election campaign efforts, and found they were being outgunned and outspent by Labor and progressive activist groups.

Bragg told the federal council: “Publish or perish must be our credo.”

He said the website “will be a publication which reaches beyond the existing cohort of fellow travellers to speak to undecided and swing voters”.

“It is designed to support the Coalition’s overarching narrative into social platforms and arm supporters with bottom up perspectives on public policy issues.”

The website appears to feature a cast of characters mostly linked to the Liberal party.

Parnell McGuiness, a communications consultant who is the managing director of Thought Broker, is listed as the editor of the site. Penny Fischer, a Camden Liberal councillor and the daughter of Pru Goward, has also produced work for the site. Brigid Meney, a policy officer at Cornerstone Group Australia and former Liberal party political adviser, has contributed as well.

The site’s privacy policy makes it clear that the Liberal party collects users’ personal information and may contact them if they sign up to the site.

It is Bragg’s final speech in his role as acting director of the party following Brian Loughnane’s departure. Former Liberal party staffer Andrew Hirst has been named the new director.

It is not the first time major parties have attempted more aggressive communication strategies.

The Labor party launched the Labor Herald in 2015, which produced news and analysis for the party faithful.

It no longer publishes content, and the website now directs users to a page that says it is “currently on hiatus”.

 

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