Power and the passion: a positioning analysis of the electricity privatisation debate in the 2015 NSW State Election

Kurt Sengul, Melanie James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary aim of this research was to explore the public relations positioning used in the debate over electricity privatisation in the 2015 NSW state election. Guided by positioning analysing as proposed by Harré and Slocum (2003) and James (2014), this research sought to not only identify acts of positioning, but also to evaluate their effectiveness. In this study, a sample of speeches and interviews by NSW Premier Mike Baird and Opposition Leader Luke Foley were analysed. Both political leaders sought to engage in positioning around the topic of electricity privatisation for a strategic purpose. The chosen texts were analysed using both critical discourse analysis and the Framework for Intentional Positioning in Public Relations (James, 2014). The research findings revealed that Luke Foley’s goal was to position electricity privatisation as both bad for NSW and the single biggest issue in the election. Conversely, Mike Baird sought to position the issue as good for NSW but did not give it prominence through the campaign. The research found that whilst there was strategic merit in both of these positioning strategies, Mike Baird was more successful in occupying his desired positions. Findings and analysis also highlighted the integral role of the local moral order in public relations positioning. It was suggested in this study that even if congruence between a position, speech act and storyline is achieved, the position will be unviable if the individual didn’t have the right to position in the first place.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Media Journal: Australian edition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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