Babies and Bickford's
Jacqueline Maley reports from the campaign trail, as Tony Abbott is warmly welcomed in Adelaide to announce a company tax cut.PT0M0S 620 349
As the campaign planes left Canberra airbase on Tuesday evening, bearing aloft their precious political cargo, the babies of Australia stood to attention.
They might not know much - lacking speech, dexterity and the sophistication needed to understand the nuances of fiscal equalisation - but they knew one thing for sure.
Awkward: Evie Whittaker gets a kiss from Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Politicians were coming for them. Their plump cheeks and doughy little hands, so irresistible at the best of times, would be at an even greater premium for the next five weeks of the election campaign.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott found his mark early. In Adelaide with shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, he visited the Bickford's drinks factory, which makes flash cordials.
On his way in, Abbott spied 15-month-old Angelique Whittaker, held high in her mother Evie's arms. Angelique was dressed in a snow-white tutu for the occasion. Abbott saw his moment, puckered up and zeroed in for landing. But as Angelique recoiled, his kiss was left in mid-air, unmet.
Tony Abbott meets Ashlee Golding. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Like a heat-seeking missile, it had to end up somewhere, and Abbott is an action-man, good in a crisis. He saved the situation by marshalling the kiss deftly onto the hair of mother Evie.
Evie didn't mind a bit. "I love Mr Abbott," she said later. "I love everything about him."
Abbott and Hockey bounced into the drinks factory to formally announce a planned tax cut of 1.5 percentage points, although, for the bigger businesses that must pay the Coalition's 1.5 per cent planned paid parental leave levy, it is not so much a cut as a fiscal whirligig that leaves them standing pretty much where they started.
Snubbed: Tony Abbott tries to kiss Carmen Garcia's daughter. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
After taking questions, it was onwards to the campaign office of Carmen Garcia, the 34-year-old mother who will face up against Labor MP Kate Ellis for the seat of Adelaide.
Also present was Garcia's charming baby girl, nestling in her father's arms. She was proffered towards Abbott, but turned her tiny snub nose away.
Babies: 2; Abbott: nil.
Still, there were consolations. The crowd was so enthusiastic about Abbott they chanted his name. Baby-faced Young Liberals in Christopher Pyne T-shirts cheered. Sweet old ladies lined up for kisses.
Abbott repeated his messages. This election was not about him, it was not about Kevin Rudd, it was about the people. The Coalition had a strong team. And the Coalition would deliver tax cuts of all colours.
Questions about costings, budget bottom lines, the exact detail of his paid parental leave scheme, they could be saved for another day.