14 April 2022

Labor's first week train crash, Zed running hard (when not saving the Pacific)

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
Zed corflute

Liberal Senator Zed Seselja is winning the corflute war so far. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Whichever way you look at it, Anthony Albanese’s first week on the election campaign trail has been a train crash that has put a chill through the Labor Party faithful.

It’s not so much that he didn’t know the answers to the inevitable gotcha questions at his first-day press conference, although it will play into Coalition claims about Labor’s supposed genetic economic illiteracy, but the response itself.

Why didn’t he do what Greens Leader Adam Bandt executed so adroitly at the National Press Club?

“Google it, mate!” he retorted to a reporter’s gotcha on the WPI, that’s the Wage Price Index for the uninitiated, before launching into a broadside about how this sort of journalism was one reason why people were switching off politics. It should be about policy, said Bandt, who took ownership of the event.

READ ALSO Can Bridgerton teach the pollies how to woo us this election season?

Albanese, who was forced into an embarrassing mea culpa, needs to own the campaign narrative, recognise the ruthlessness of Morrison’s machine and, yes, get the details right.

Thankfully for him, there are a further five weeks (collective groan) to get it right, but that is also enough time for Morrison to run him down.

There is no free ride to the Lodge and the opinion polls should mean nothing.

In a sense, with the Coalition so far behind, the Prime Minister has nothing to lose, and therein lies the danger.

Morrison will say and do anything to hammer home key messages and try to wedge a Labor Party wedded to a small-target strategy that has put it into retreat ever since Bill Shorten’s manifesto approach also fell to the Coalition’s negative campaigning.

It’s hard for Labor to take a positive message to the electorate when there are so few policies to sell, apart from generalities about how they will do better than the Coalition on, say, climate change.

Labor looks spooked and unless Albanese can find his mojo, whatever message he has is going to get drowned out by Morrison’s megaphone.

This has come down to power and whoever can project it best.

READ ALSO $11.4 million AIS funding a ‘start’ but Barr wants more certainty about precinct’s future

In the ACT, Liberal Senator Zed Seselja had his own power play this week, suddenly finding $11 million to fix the AIS so Canberra can again have a sporting and entertainment facility.

Nice timing. So soon after the Budget too. You’d think he had just delivered a stunning new piece of infrastructure when all it is is maintenance the Commonwealth should have done all along.

But expect a few more cynical stashes from the Coalition war chest to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Independent David Pocock, when asked whether his candidacy might have influenced the announcement, wasn’t about to miss the free-kick, suggesting Senator Seselja might have felt more pressure to deliver for the ACT than usual.

If you believe the polling, Seselja is certainly looking over his shoulder and, going by the number of blue corflutes lining the city’s main roads, he’s running hard.

READ ALSO Zed leaves campaign trail for Solomon Islands trip

The Minister for the Pacific also had to leave the campaign for a bit of crisis diplomacy in the Solomons, urging the government there to abandon its security deal with China.

Like the AIS deal, it may be too little, too late.

The question is, what was the Minister doing when, on his watch, China slipped into what should be Australia’s backyard?

Seselja has stressed the Coalition’s defence and national security credentials, but that appears to be overplayed after dropping the ball on this one.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Capital Retro8:07 am 19 Apr 22

Cleve Gabriel, Zed was born in Canberra. His parents were immigrants. He has worked in Canberra all his life and is raising a family here. If that isn’t “commitment” I don’t know what is.

How many of the other ACT Senate candidates were born in Canberra?

@Capital Retro – What a ridiculous premise … to be committed to Canberra you have to have been born here? As an over 30-year “migrant from interstate”, I would make the alternate argument that those who came to Canberra and chose to stay have shown an even greater “commitment”. I’m happy to vote for a Senate candidate, irrespective of their heritage, who, first and foremost, is committed to putting the will of all Canberrans first and will break the unhealthy stranglehold the major parties have on ACT representation. So, I have no issue voting for an ex-Victorian (Kim Rubenstein) and an ex-Zimbabwean (David Pocock) to give us a real voice and some sway in the Senate – unlike the current pair (Seselja and Gallagher) whose lemming-like vote cancels each other out.

Capital Retro9:44 am 19 Apr 22

Thanks, Cleve.

LOL – that’s the best you have, CapitalRetro? Accuse me of supporting “myself” under a different nick? When you can’t refute the argument attack the person, eh?

Capital Retro2:52 pm 19 Apr 22

I have no idea what you are raving about, Oiledpengu.

Labor will fix everything. We will all live like kings once they are elected

I hope the ALP recover and I think they probably will. Maybe it’s best to see Albanese not a great intellect (he isn’t) but as a stable chairman-of-the-board type who should do ok with the right people around him. Who knows what will happen if they lose. The risk is that they’ll descend even further into identity politics and be unelectable.

Not just RiotACT. The comments below are indicative of the safest Labour seats in the country. A territory that hops on its left foot. ? ‘Looks like Toorak, votes like Melbourne Ports’.

I think the quote was ‘Looks like Killara, but votes like Cessnock”. Same idea though. That said, this time I’m voting ALP, at least in the House of Reps, not for the Senate. I think it’s time.

@bob9000 – you really should do your homework before making outlandsih statements like “… indicative of the safest Labour seats in the country …” because it’s factually incorrect – https://www.tallyroom.com.au/aus2022/pendulumfed2022
Alicia Payne (Canberra) enjoys the safest margin in the ACT at 17.1%, ranked 5th out of 69 Labor held seats. Next is Andrew Leigh (Fenner, 10.6%) – ranked 22nd. David Smith (Bean, 7.5%) is ranked 35th and doesn’t even make the top 50 percentile of Labor held seats.
Have to like that quote (often attributed to Mark Twain, but never proven to be so) – ““A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth puts on its shoes””

Clearly RiotACT is pro Labour.

Given that 80% of Federal ACT politicians are Labor and for the last 20 years, Canberrans have elected Labor in the ACT elections, your point is?

HiddenDragon6:51 pm 15 Apr 22

“Why didn’t he do what Greens Leader Adam Bandt executed so adroitly at the National Press Club?”

Because Albanese would not have been allowed to get away with that, nor would Morrison earlier in the year when asked about the prices of household basics.

Albanese’s “brain freeze” (as it is now being uniformly termed by his apologists) would more easily have been dismissed if he had admitted fault on the spot (instead of doing so a few hours later and then trying to turn it into an attack on his opponent) and then immediately started talking about some of the problems which are hidden by the headline unemployment and inflation figures and what solutions Labor has for them.

“Google it, mate!”, says Greens Leader Adam Bandt to a journalist. This is arrogant and dismissive. But as much as I distrust the Greens I agree with AB that an attempted ‘gotcha’ question on a statistic is just an example of lazy journalism. Most responsible voters don’t care if a candidate doesn’t know a particular statistic because they are looking for overall leadership, background, competance and vision.
Intentionally seting out to humiliate candidates just discourages good people from standing.
The media should be asking the Greens about the economic cost of their policies, their impact on unemployment and housing, their hostility to existing social and economic structures, their disruption to governance, their negative attitudes to Australian values etc etc so that voters understand what they are voting for.

Elections are just lacklustre bottom dwellers vying for job security through re-election and outsiders seeking the same. In other words high salaries for doing sweet FA, except for polishing a red or green seat cushion

Does anyone actually care that Albanese couldn’t remember the latest unemployment rate off the top of his head? When everyone from John Howard to Adam Bandt agree on how irrelevant this is, I think it’s safe to say that it is. The real question is: why is the media so obsessed with it?

Meanwhile, no mention of Morrison abandoning his promise to establish an anti-corruption commission. Maybe the reason we keep electing such lousy governments is that our election campaigns focus on irrelevant superficial stunts rather than actual policy positions.

I care more about my hip pocket that some ICAC

Bottom dweller by any chance?

Amazing that you are harping on about the pointless numbers that Albo didn’t remember and not a word about ICAC, corruption, sexual assault, defamation, claiming credit for the efforts of state and territory governments, continuing casual is action of the workforce, and complete lack of leadership from this government of announcements.

You forgot the disclaimer again:

*brought to you by the ALP Canberra.

Stephen Saunders7:36 am 15 Apr 22

Morrison claims credit for 4% UE – but it is mostly the COVID immigration freeze. He asserts 1.3m jobs over the next five years – but he will need mass immigration to achieve that.

Albanese is rusted on to mass immigration himself, and does not care that voters do not want a Big Australia 2.0. So, he declines to challenge the Coalition spiel effectively. He does not really want to win all that much, does he?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.