Matt Poynting

About Matt Poynting

Matt is communications professional, trained in journalism and media, and currently working in the not-for-profit sector. My experience spans public relations, communications and community-based journalism, including presenting and writing for radio, newspaper and online.

Approx Reading Time-10Now that we know the identity of the “Fake Tradie”, the most revealing point of the whole fiasco is the Liberal case study that spawned it.


The so-called “Fake Tradie”, whose performance in a Liberal Party advertisement defending negative gearing spawned a wave of social media derision, has been revealed as Sydneysider Andrew MacRae.

A real tradie.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr MacRae is a metalworker who runs his own business, lives in comfy Lane Cove in Sydney’s lower North Shore, and presumably has an investment property somewhere as well. Oh, and a $7,000 Tag Heuer watch.

That the ad’s creators left the timepiece in shot, clearly visible and apparently legible, was a primary cause of the ridicule levelled at everyone involved in the production. It was a laughable attempt, many said, to show that the average working bloke thinks it’s worth “sticking it out with this mob for a little while.”

Once the ad aired and made its way around social media, the detractors came thick and fast. Everyone from Bill Shorten to the AMWU had a quip about #faketradie. A Twitter account was set up in his name. One video even showed real tradies giving a play-by-play commentary of the ad as they watched it in their real job sites.

My guess is that the young, struggling apprentices and labourers out there might have found the ad easier to swallow if Mr MacRae was indeed a paid actor, because frankly, he doesn’t speak for them at all.

Needless to say, the widespread mockery was born of the assumption that the Liberal Party had paid an actor – who was obviously doing alright for himself anyway – to speak for a group of people, namely tradies, that he had no connection with or understanding of. How very dare they.

So then, what do we make of the revelation that Mr MacRae exists and is in fact a tradie? This guy with his spotless high-vis vest, ceramic coffee mug, costlier-than-a-commercial-toaster watch, and the means to negatively gear an investment property…is genuine? He is fair dinkum, true blue, dinky-di for real?

Essentially, it changes nothing. In fact, the Liberal Party should have jumped at the invitation to lie and admit he was an actor. With a home in Lane Cove, another one negatively gearing away somewhere, and a watch that costs more money than I’ve ever seen, the only people Mr MacRae can speak for are those as well-off as him.

That’s not to say that “affluent tradies” is an oxymoron. Far from it. As a young tacker I was told that the biggest houses in our modest street belonged to the tradies that had a “licence to print money”. I’d never heard of these licences, but I wanted one.

I’m not a tradie myself. However, I, like many of my friends, am in a position where buying my own home in Sydney seems only slightly more achievable than shooting four under par…on the moon. My guess is that the young, struggling apprentices and labourers out there might have found the ad easier to swallow if Mr MacRae was indeed a paid actor, because frankly, he doesn’t speak for them at all.

Instead, the ad is nothing more than a thinly-veiled case study of who the Liberal Party really cares about. This is not a message that speaks for the common working Australian who “just wants to get ahead”, investment property or not. Even though it was written using the Everyday Aussie Style Guide, the ad’s script carries none of the concerns that keep millions of people in this country awake at night. Concerns about medical bills, how much an education will cost them (and whether they can get one at all), what will happen if their job goes tomorrow, how far their pension cheque will last, how they’ll pay the rent without their Sunday penalty rates…

This is not an attack on Andrew MacRae. I have no idea of his personal situation; he could be dirt poor and squatting in that house in Lane Cove for all I know. It’s a moot point, because the Liberal Party has painted him in a certain way, and it’s a fairly safe bet that anyone wearing a Tag Heuer watch, who owns a couple of properties in Sydney, is probably on a better wicket than the majority of employed Australians wearing high-vis workwear, or otherwise.

At best, this advertisement is a poorly executed ploy to reach the homes and hearts of average working Australians that has missed its mark. At worst, it’s another reminder of how dreadfully out-of-touch the Liberals are with what “average working Australians” actually means in this country. Either way, they would have been better off putting Scott Cam in front of the cameras. At least he wouldn’t have muffed his opening line.

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