“If you’re a toothpaste brand, you have to be truthful about your toothpaste. But if you’re a politician from the Labor Party, you can say whatever you want about someone from the Liberal Party and vice versa and there are no repercussions.
“All these things affect our trust, whether it’s the micro-lies we’re told before an election that never come to pass, or whether it’s the bullshit that happens during the election cycle from both sides of the major parties.”
A clever mash-up of Peter Dutton soundbites hilariously illustrates the point. A tense exchange with Sam Dastyari, cheekily held in an empty Chinese restaurant, in which the former Labor senator is gobsmacked at his interviewer’s naivete, leaves Van Vuuren visibly emotional. Segments addressing gun laws and gambling lay bare potential real-world consequences of the lobbying industry.
Van Vuuren was surprised at the ease at which “career shit-stirrer” Reucassel was able to fix interviews for him with current and former MPs. A notable omission is Clive Palmer, whom Van Vuuren jokes might rue not having the opportunity to “have me for breakfast” once his journalistic inexperience is broadcast. From Reucassel, he learnt on the fly the fine art of blending truth with humour.
“Sometimes I’d go to make a joke and he’d pull me up and say, ‘If you’re going to say that joke, you need to word it like this because that’s not entirely factual’. He has a very good grasp of being able to make a joke and make sure you’re not misinforming people.”
Van Vuuren hopes the series will start conversations that have previously been avoided because of the two-party, “football team” nature of Australian politics, and inspire voters to action beyond Tweets and Facebook likes.
“Things that I thought were impotent, like sending your member a letter or attending a council meeting, do have impact. A lot of politics is local and finding people in your area that care about what you do can improve the situation for all of you … We’ve got to start with people leaning in to the democratic process.”
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