The first week of the election buildup featured pretty much exactly what you’d expect: mistakes, petty insults, and little substance.
In a week where Australian politics got its very own versions of much maligned American politicians Sarah Palin and Anthony Weiner, it was a farcical and slightly comical beginning to what will be a very long election.
When the weeks starts with the revelation that a chairman of an Ethics (yes, ethics) Committee sent his mistress pictures of “his penis plonked in a glass of red wine”, it’s probably going to be a bad week. Yep, Coalition MP Peter Dowling’s attempts to one-up Weiner were revealed, and he promptly stepped aside, but we’ll have to live with that mental image for the rest of our lives.
Carrying on with the ‘let’s embarrass Australia internationally’ theme, Jaymes Diaz’s catastrophic interview went viral and made the headlines in the US. LNP’s Diaz claimed that the party has a “six-point plan” to ‘stop the boats’, but after being asked a total of eight times to reveal these, he could not. Diaz stumbled through the painfully cringeworthy interview before finally being saved by a disapproving minder, and slowly backing away from the interviewer, looking dazed and lost.
This typified how the campaign so far has been solely focused on catchy slogans and the go-to line of ‘stop the boats’, without any real substance from either Party.
You’d think that a candidate being unable to detail any of his Party’s key policies would be the biggest gaffe of the week, right? Wrong. Oh so wrong.
Enter Stephanie Banister, the figure-head for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party. Banister showed a predictably awful lack of basic common knowledge in the interview with Channel Seven, which included the phrase “I don’t oppose Islam as a country”, reference to the Koran as “haram” and claims that the national disability insurance scheme was “working at the moment”. It doesn’t begin for another three years. In another embarrassment for the country, this interview also went viral, and has led to many accurate comparisons with the one and only Sarah Palin.
Not surprisingly, Banister is also facing criminal charges after allegedly placing anti-Muslim stickers on supermarket products, which is probably what got her into the One Nation Party in the first place. Mercifully, she has now resigned.
On the topic of actual policies, the week was rather sparse. The focus, as usual, was on economic issues, with each side announcing one big spending policy. Labor announced an extra $450 million for out of school care places, while the Coalition stated that it would cut company tax by 1.5%.
Meanwhile Kevin Rudd visited a lot of schools and Tony Abbott visited a lot of factories.
Will it get any better tomorrow? It’s debatable.