Audrey Young: Rating the Australian election campaign – week 5

Kiwis embedded in the campaign
It may be dubbed the Seinfeld election – the election about nothing- but there is always something to learn from other countries’ campaigns. Labour general secretary Rob Salmond was
in Australia earlier this week and National has sent list MP Chris Bishop and a handful of Young Nats to observe and help with the final stages. The principals of Labour’s pollsters, David Talbot and Stephen Mills, are working on Labor’s campaign in their capacity as directors of Anacta Strategies. Fellow director and former general secretary and Labour’s 2017 campaign manager Andrew Kirton has also visited. Labor has its headquarters in Sydney and the Liberal Party has again based its campaign in Brisbane.

Kim Jong Un impersonator gatecrashes Morrison’s event
Questions will be asked of Scott Morrison’s security detail after a person impersonating North Korea leader Kim Jong Un gatecrashed an event today on the campaign trail in Chisholm, reports.
When the man was confronted by one of Morrison’s staff, he responded: “Excuse me, you don’t tell the Supreme Leader what to do. I’m here to support [Chisholm MP] Gladys Liu. She supports [Chinese President] Xi Jinping and now she supports [Dear Leader.].
A journalist with 10News, StelaTodorovic has also tweeted good pictures.

The ad battle: ‘That’s not my meaning’
The Liberals’ social media advertising campaign is not up to the same standard it was forthe last election and Labor is making more impact, especially its ad featuring Scott Morrison saying repetitively “that’s not my job”. It has played to the narrative of Morrison being late to arrive at a crisis, eg bushfires, and blaming others for mistakes when things go wrong. The one exception to the advertising imbalance has been the Liberals’ ad countering the “not my job” ad. It played the fuller Morrison quote and the question it was answering. In context, they were quite reasonable answers to the (paraphrased) following questions he was asked at three different times by three different journalists about whether he was losing patience with Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, a question about spending taxpayers’ money, and whether he was frightened about Covid. “Labor’s campaign is a lie”, the Liberal ad explains. The great puzzle is why it took so long for the Liberals to counterpunch when Labor began the campaign featuring “it’s not my job” at least nine months ago.

A not so happy birthday for Prime Minister Morrison
It’s Friday the 13th and Prime Minister Scott Morrison turns 54 today. But it hasn’t been a particularly great birthday. There was this morning’s gatecrashing by the Kim Jong Un impersonator, and the lasting narrative of his press conference is that he is a bit of a bulldozer and he conceded he would have to change the way he did things if he was re-elected. Albanese, who is not usually quick on his feet, had a quick riposte: “If you want change, don’t look to Scott Morrison to change because that is not going to happen. Just change the Government.”
Morrison was born in Sydney in 1968. Labor leader Anthony Albanese is a little older. He turned 59 in March this year, having been born in Sydney in 1963.

This week’s polling
The most highly anticipated poll, The Australian newspaper’s Newspoll, was good news for Labor this week. Published on Tuesday, it showed Labor up two points in the two-party preferred rating, 54 to the Coalition’s 46, up one point in the primary vote, 39 per cent to 35 per cent, and Albanese up three points in preferred Prime Minister to 42 per cent compared to Morrison’s 44 per cent. Undecideds were 14 per cent. Former Labor strategist Cameron Milner told Sky News’ Chris Kenny yesterday that Labor already had an assured majority and would pick up Leichardt, Brisbane, Reid, Chisolm, Bass, Boothby and Swan. Others are not so convinced and believe that neither major will emerge with a majority and will have to rely on deals with others.

Albanese’s third’gaffe’
Anthony Albanese gave a direct answer to a direct question, only it was such a controversial answer that it has not been repeated since. He was asked by a reporter in a stand-up whether he would support a minimum wage increase (set by the Fair Pay Commission) at least 5.1 per cent to keep pace with inflation. “Absolutely!” he said. The response horrified economists, small businesses and the Liberals, who claimed it would add to inflationary pressures and was further evidence (on top of gaffes over the national unemployment rates and the disability scheme) that Albanese did not understand the economy. Labor strategists were less worried about this “gaffe,” insisting that associating Labor with a decent wage rises to meet the cost of living crisis is one of the primary goals of the campaign.

• “He just runs off at the mouth. It is like he just unzips his head and lets everything fall on the table. That is no way to run an economy.” Scott Morrison on Anthony Albanese’s support for a 5.1 per cent wage adjustment.

• “A bulldozer wrecks things. A bulldozer knocks things over. I’m a builder, that’s what I am.” Anthony Albanese responding to Morrison’s description of himself as being a “bulldozer”.

• Anthony Albanese: 8 – the momentum is with Albanese.
• Scott Morrison: 6 – telling the voters he would change is oddly off-message for the usually strong campaigner.

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