politics

Election 2016: Game of Votes.

Australians tend to approach the democratic process in the same way they approach a redback spider in a dunny: reluctantly, with an air of mild disgust, driven by the obligation to do something necessary but unpleasant.

Given we’ve been forced to this double dissolution election on dubious grounds having had five Prime Minister’s in six years the collective national response was as follows:

Democracy? GREATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

For some nations, choosing amongst the options presented up at elections is like picking a dish from the buffet on a gastro-riddled cruise ship, with potentially horrible results:

Possibly America’s next, and perhaps last, President.

Australia’s politics haven’t descended into farce, yet, but before you judge another country on the quality of their politicians just remember some of the folk we’ve elected within recent memory:

Like the dinosaurs, Clive Palmer seems likely to become a historical novelty.

Pauline "I don't like it" Hanson. Source: Channel 9.

Pauline has diversified her “I don’t like it brand” to include a more diverse range of people.

There's a distinct lack of enthusiasm for this year's election campaign. Both because it's one of the longest in recent memory, and because it's occurring outside the usual election cycle.

Remember how we HAD to go to this election to pass bills creating the ABCC to reign in the union movement? Yeah, seems our leaders haven’t either. The issue hasn’t come up since the campaign began, Labor has no reason to bring it back into the spotlight and the Coalition knows most Australians don’t really care.

Australian’s like elections, as much as this leopard enjoys vegemite.

But if Malcolm thought it’d be an easy campaign, he was wrong. Bill Shorten has shorted his shit out and defied the low expectations of the electorate to create a serious contest. Malcolm’s still expected to win but Bill’s now ahead in some polls so to save you the effort of reading the bilge produced by our so-called leaders, here’s a summary of the weeks events.

THE ISSUES

We’ve already had our first backflip and the winner is: the Coalition!

The so-called backpacker tax, was introduced in the budget and would have imposed a 32.5% tax on working holiday-makers, raising $40 million. It’s now going to be “reviewed” (i.e. scrapped).


The first of many backflips to come.

And we’ve already had our first serious blunder. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton bumbled onto Sky News and speaking about refugees, declared: “For many people — they won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English. For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it, so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

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The trick to dog whistle racism is to say the right blend of key words and phrases so your target audience (i.e. racists) recognise what you’re talking about, but you’ve got plausible deniability with the rest of the community.

Dutto isn’t isn’t the most sophisticated of talkers and he over-reached, badly, leading to a considerable backlash. Still, the point of Dutton’s comments was to get people thinking about asylum seekers, an area where the Coalition has an advantage so perhaps Dutto is actually a genius and we’re all the idiots?

THE MOMENTS

Shorten definitely played better on the campaign trail this week with two moments standing out.

A head-on collision occurred when a car attempted to overtake Bill Shorten’s convey on Thursday. Bill suspended his campaign and was photographed comforting a woman and her two year old in his car after the accident. There was no politics on display, just a moment of raw humanity.

One of the occupants of the car involved in the accident was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Bill Shorten at the scene of car crash at Testers Hollow near Cessnock and Maitland. (Photo: Belinda-Jane Davis).

Bill then had a second moment on the trail, this time in Adelaide, when Margot Casey decided to give him a couple of impressive smooches. Margot was in a mobility scooter and got Bill in a darn firm bear hug. He handled it with aplomb.

On the Coalition side, Turnbull's campaigning was perfectly serviceable but he hasn’t been helped by Peta Credlin in her new role as a Sky News commentator. Tony Abbott’s ex-chief of staff has an impressive depth of political knowledge and campaign insight, but she hasn’t been doing Mal any favours.

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Credlin's offering of advice and shade was less than welcome. Source: Sky News. 

Mal was caught in a bind last week when he was campaigning in Fiona Scott’s seat in Western Sydney. Journos asked Scott (who was famously described by Abbott as having sex appeal) who she’d voted for in the leadership contest between Turnbull and Abbott and Fiona was, understandably, reluctant to answer. A planned street walk with Mal and Fiona was then cancelled which lead to criticism from Credlin, including her use of the nickname “Mister Harborside Mansion” for Turnbull.

A nickname like that, coming from a senior Liberal, can’t help Malcolm, especially when Labor’s trying to paint the Liberals as out-of-touch and committed to helping the wealthy.

These kinds of campaign moments, in and of themselves can seem inconsequential, and sometimes they are, but where a photograph from the campaign trail reinforces a pre-existing perception and confirms somethings voters already sensed, they can be worth a thousand press releases. Remember this moment from 2004 when Mark Latham loomed over John Howard and crushed his hand?

Mark Latham has since gone on to make everyone feel incredibly uncomfortable (Photo: John Feder Source:News Corp Australia)

Some polls have Labor ahead of the Coalition, but the overall sense is that this is still Turnbull’s election to lose. Shorten’s been doing well on the trail and there have been a couple of unforced errors from the Coalition.

In isolation, this stuff doesn’t matter much, but if the trends continue, we could be in for our sixth Prime Minister in as many years. Ugh. What’s certain is that we’ll find a way to keep you informed about the election using GIFs. You’re welcome, Australia.

Being a voter, like being a roller-blading dinosaur mascot, can be painful.

Tags: australian-politics , current-affairs
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