Government needs to remind people of when the dams ran low to sell the carbon tax

Tom DonaldIn this guest post, Tom Donald argues that reminding Australians of the days of drought is the way to sell the carbon tax.

Innovators and marketers need to understand the context in which people experience their creations much better. Failing to do so leads to the generally dreadful state of Australian cinema, and most TV ads being virtually unwatchable.

In recent debates about the Carbon Tax and the waning of popular support for it, we have again failed to recognise, and therefore address, the most important bit of contextual information: The environment itself. Specifically, it’s been raining in Australia for the last four years after barely doing so for a decade.

In a sunburnt country plagued with droughts, life feels perilous at times, especially when the water runs low. Unsurprisingly, support for environmentally progressive legislation went up and up as the dams got lower and lower.

But then the rains came back, big time. Suddenly life in the Lucky Country felt a little less perilous. “Thank God”, people said, before turning the hose on long unwatered yards and long unwashed cars. And as the dams filled back up to the brim, we returned to a ”she’ll be right mate” attitude.

Don’t expect popular support for the Carbon Tax or similar legislation to return in significant numbers until the rains disappear again (as they always do). We need the right context back. Until then, there isn’t enough in the world around us forcing us to face and make decisions about a distant and unknowable future (the kinds of decisions Daniel Kahneman and behavioural economics shows we are the worst at making well).

If the current Government wants greater success in selling the Carbon Tax to us all, it should understand that today’s context is wrong, but tomorrow’s won’t be. In the not too distant future the rains will stop and the droughts will return. That future context is coming. So use it to remind us of what the world felt like when we all last supported environmentally progressive legislation.

Because in Australia it’s not “Winter is coming”, but “Drought is coming” that might best rally us into action.

  • Tom Donald is a planning director at Droga 5. This piece first appeared on his Punk Rock Shop blog

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