The workshop will bring together a team comprising academics and practitioners to present and debate their points of view about the national election. The unique value of the project is that it provides useful synergies between town and gown, and facilitates practitioners providing important data, eg, their own quantitative and qualitative survey research, and receiving feedback from academics about the relevance of party research in terms of intellectual agendas. Equally academics benefit from learning about the internal decision-making processes of election campaigning, and from accessing some of the internal party research findings.
Election studies have become more not less important. The 2001 election was considered a watershed election because of the salience of foreign policy agendas and the role of the American alliance in particular. In 2001 the media had a crucial role in pressing the significance of terrorism, and other threats to Australia, including those potentially posed by asylum seekers. The 2004 election is shaping up to be even more significant given the likelihood not just of a change of government, but of a consequential foreign policy agenda shift. Bearing in mind the lessons from 2001, the convenors have decided to expand the discussion of the media by including new papers/chapters on the role of television and advertising, and on the Internet. Authors of papers on political leadership and political culture have been asked to include talk back radio, which proved so central in 2001 – for example Prime Minister Howard communicated key policy shifts in the treatment of asylum seekers, via selected radio shows.
The previous workshops have all resulted in publications:
- The Politics of Retribution: the 1996 Federal Election (Allen and Unwin, 1997)
- Howard’s Agenda: the 1998 Australian Election
- 2001: The Centenary Election.
The latter two were published by the University of Queensland Press, and all have been well received by the academic and general communities.