David James Connolly
Turnbull goes full 'open kimono'
Welcome to the end of Week Four, traditionally the juncture at which a political campaign takes on hallucinogenic properties. Not surprising, then, that the key seat of Wentworth chose this week to drop its acid.
The 29th prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, who has such a rich history of scandalising harbourside Liberals that one suspects it's a hobby, did it again today when — from New York — he mildly ventured the opinion that voting for independents was not such a bad idea.
Now, Turnbull has a flirtatious history with independents. He notoriously "liked" a Tweet in favour of Kerryn Phelps back when she campaigned in the seat a few years back, and he's shimmied about extensively when it comes to issuing full-throated support for his Liberal successor in Wentworth, poor old Dave Sharma.
Today, though, he went — to use a Turnbull phrase — "open kimono".
Turnbull has — as he usually does — removed himself to New York for the duration of the campaign, ostensibly so as to remain out of trouble. He has even switched to a US mobile for the duration. However, the internet still works, and his speech to the Washington Harvard Club made for a transfixing hot breakfast this morning.
The awkward thing for Sharma is that he has a radically depleted stock of recent or serving PMs on whom to call for roadside assistance. Tony Abbott would… not be of use. And the serving prime minister, whose personality constitutes the bedrock business case for Teal Inc, is about as popular in the seat as instant coffee.
When asked why he hasn't ventured out in Wentworth to campaign, Morrison regularly observes "my mum lives in Wentworth!"
And indeed, it's understood the PM visits this particular Wentworth voter assiduously, using all his best campaign schtick… sometimes washing mum's hair, sometimes rolling out croissants, sometimes welding things entirely unhampered by safety equipment, sometimes bathing some lightly defrosted skinless chicken thighs in jar sauce… that vote is IN THE BAG.
Now for the other 103,708 registered Wentworth voters!
How worried is the Coalition about the "teal" seats? Worried enough not to send in the PM. Worried enough for Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to actually attend a local debate against Teal challenger Monique Ryan, as Michelle Grattan points out in her column this morning.
And worried enough for some motivated party — and I'm not saying they're linked to the Coalition — to create a whole range of fake expensive signs misleadingly identifying "teal" candidates in the seats of Warringah, Mackellar and Hughes as Greens, an overnight development which has enraged an entire quadrant of the political colour wheel ranging from chartreuse to cyan (inclusive).
If you're interested in the phenomenon of female independents, keep an eye out for Sunday's Compass episode Raising Her Voice, presented by youth advocate Yassmin Poole, at 6.30pm on ABCTV.
Missed it by that much
Life's not entirely straightforward for the red team, meanwhile. Leader Anthony Albanese's unfortunate habit of not being able to remember things at key moments continued to trouble him this week.
He appeared on Q&A last night, and campaigned in Sydney yesterday, but a certain wobbliness was apparent in policy detail.
Yesterday, for example, the ABC was told that Labor's policy was to ban live sheep exports. Today, after what one assumes was a hot blast from WA Premier and sheepslinger Mark McGowan, Albanese avowed that the policy had changed.
Also today, the mystery of whether Labor would honour its longstanding promise to pay superannuation contributions on the public paid parental leave scheme (a mere $200m bagatelle to offset the national scandal of women receiving about one-third of the average superannuation package that men do) was solved: Sorry, ladies!
Interestingly, while there has been much chatter in this campaign about the under-use of Tanya Plibersek, who regularly polls as Labor's best-known and most popular figure, this was one policy initiative that was all Plibersek's to announce.
It was a hands-down win today for the young children of Josh Frydenberg and Jim Chalmers, both of whose fathers confirmed in interviews that the going rate for lost teeth in their respective families was $20 (paid at arm's length through their associated entities trading as Tooth Fairy Pty Ltd).
Every parent who read of this bipartisan largesse no doubt gasped at the rampant profligacy on display. TWENTY BUCKS? Are you for real?
Any residual questions about the national deficit just died on the lips of the nation. Case closed, your Honour.
The Liberal candidate for Lilley, Vivian Lobo, appears to have enrolled himself at an empty house in the marginal Labor electorate.
What to watch out for tomorrow
It's not tomorrow but Sunday will see the leaders duke it out in their second debate on Channel 9 at 8.45pm.
It's happening on Mother's Day and you can expect both leaders will be paying tribute to the women who brought them up.
All eyes will be on whether Morrison does visit his mother on his first trip to Wentworth during the campaign, one of his most vulnerable seats.
Dave Sharma might be hoping he doesn't.
Via: Annabelle Crabb
David James Connolly