This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning till the end of the election. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
Warning: The following newsletter contains strong language, graphic scenes of blood-letting and gruesome depictions of human anatomy. It is not recommended for sensitive readers suffering a deep affinity with the concepts of truth, honesty and substance.
Stephen King, who has been scaring people a lot longer than even Barnaby Joyce, believes we are drawn to horror stories because they help us cope with the real ones in our lives. But surely nothing King has written comes close to matching the disturbing images unleashed on Australian voters during yesterday's federal election campaign.
The 31st day of this endless campaign began with Scott Morrison, a man who also relishes the art of telling a scary story, attacking Anthony Albanese's comments this week that Labor would support a 5.1 per cent increase to the minimum wage because of surging inflation. Morrison described the opposition leader as a "loose unit."
The Prime Minister then strayed into zombie movie imagery by saying Albanese "...just runs off at the mouth. It is like he just unzips his head and lets everything fall on the table ... his thoughtlessness on this would actually make inflation worse. It would make interest rates even higher, it would threaten the strong growth we have had in employment ... ultimately, it would force small businesses potentially out of business altogether."
Got the picture, yet? The apocalypse is coming and life as we know it will end, even though it never happened in the past when several governments of both political persuasions in the 1980s and '90s made submissions to the Fair Work Commission specifically suggesting an appropriate pay rise number.
But with numerous polls indicating his Coalition may come to a grisly ending on May 21, Morrison has finally latched on to a theme he has been trying to nail down for the past five weeks: Albanese cannot be trusted and from now will be to blame for anything that goes bump in the night.
After that the spotlight swung to Barnaby Joyce's address to the National Press Club. We have noted before that Joyce speaks the way many of us attempt to write with our left hand; despite starting out with good intentions, sentences soon deteriorate until they end up making little sense. But Joyce also delivers speeches the way Stephen King structures his stories; they begin innocently enough although it never takes long before the real horror spills forth.
Yesterday it was the worst-timed blood nose in political history. As he tried to staunch the flow with a tissue, Joyce quipped: "I know you are going to get 1001 photos of me with a Kleenex up my nose."
They did, too. And given the lack of substantial policy debate we have seen from both major parties throughout this campaign and the corresponding rise in popularity of a sea of independents, those images might well end up representing the real horror story voters intend delivering at the ballot box.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Is six weeks too long for an election campaign? Do you believe Albanese's support for a 5.1 per cent pay increase (business is calling for a raise half that) will create higher inflation? And if you watched last night's final debate on the Seven network, tell us who you thought won. Send us your views: email@example.com
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- A YouGov poll published in The Australian indicated Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is in danger of losing his blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Kooyong to his independent opponent, Monique Ryan. Another sitting Liberal in the seat of Goldstein, Tim Wilson, is also trailing his independent opponent, Zoe Daniel.
- The Coalition pledged $50 million for two NSW universities to work with industry on solar, hydrogen and energy storage projects.
- Labor leader Anthony Albanese described his party's approach to the campaign as "under-promising, so that we over-deliver" and responded to Morrison's attack on him by saying the Prime Minister was "loose with the truth".
THEY SAID IT: "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt." - Herbert Hoover.
YOU SAID IT: "There are two priorities: Ethical behaviour and climate change. Nothing else matters." - Brian.
"This campaign brings no credit to anyone, including journalists. Income distribution in Australia has been ignored. The top 20 per cent have 48 per cent of the income. The bottom 20 per cent have only 4 per cent of income. That is not my idea of a fair go." - Arthur.
"We endure an archaic voting system in this country. Wouldn't it be refreshing for the AEC to be brought kicking and screaming into the modern digital world. Electronic, internet and remote rural access voting...ah well, back to feeding my cows." - Geoff.
"Not only do we have less than ideal politicians; we also have poor television reporters that ask nonsense questions. Everyone needs to lift their game." - Rosemary.
"I have long since abandoned any hope of getting a truthful response to a straightforward question about government policy from any government politician. The invariable response is a tediously prolix, loquacious, circumlocutory gush of blather that boils down to an intentional failure to answer my question. Politicians do not want to answer questions from the public. Journalists seem to spend their professional lives never discovering this fundamental law of politics." - Valerie.
"We need the so-called leaders of Australia to work together instead of wasting millions on advertising and slinging off at each other. Makes you wonder how they sleep at night knowing how the people they represent can't afford the Australian dream of owning their own homes, where the homeless are sleeping this winter and if they have food and warmth and how pensioners that have worked hard for this country are only just surviving on fortnightly rations. Unless they pull something out of the hat they won't be getting my vote." - Craig.
"What policies need to be addressed and the major parties are not doing so? Climate change, climate change and climate change. Addressing it will bring jobs, exports and help the economy as well as keep the planet within the realms of liveability." - Jan.
"Mandates for employment have not been addressed by most political parties. The teacher shortage is not due to COVID-19 infections but to over 8000 teachers who have chosen not to get vaccinated." - Kay.
"I would like more discussion and action on transitioning from coal to renewables, paying front line workers proper wages and services and amenities for country towns." - Maggie.
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