Public opinion, privatisation and the electoral politics of Telstra

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21 Citations (Scopus)


During the 1996 election campaign, the Liberal-National Party Coalition pledged that if elected it would partly privatise Telstra. The pledge was a central part of its campaign pitch. This paper argues that the proposal came at a time when the tide of public opinion had moved against privatisation; it shows how the Opposition used poll data both to present its own proposal in the most favourable light and to portray the difference between its position and that of Labor Government's as minimal; and, using the surveys commissioned by both sides, it evaluates the success of this strategy. More generally, it suggests that in a "post-ideological" age, party ideology remains important. And it illustrates how polls can be used by parties not just to establish what the majority thinks but to galvanise support, neutralise opposition and convert those who harbour doubts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-238
Number of pages25
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1999


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