Every political leader likes to have their own public persona. Kevin Rudd was happy to work his nerdish, studious appearance, giving the impression that every word he spoke was backed by meticulous research. Julia Gillard portrayed herself as a leader under siege but with the combative skills to fend off any attackers. Tony Abbott cultivated what he saw as the common touch, not afraid to pander to the lowest common denominator with statements like “climate change is bullshit.” Malcolm Turnbull saw himself as a modern day, tech savvy statesman and then there’s Scott Morrison.
It’s early days yet but the accidental Prime Minister has slipped comfortably into a wardrobe of baseball caps and an affection for all things old school Aussie – like dripping grease down your sleeve at a sausage sizzle or beery banter with your mates at the local pub. Who’s to say this is not working for ScoMo and maybe it’s a portent of the way all politicians will campaign in future months.
After all the last thing we want here is American style razzmatazz and Trump style Nuremberg rallies when it comes to our State and Federal elections. Focus groups, robocalls and those annoying attack ads could also be dumped if all parties agree to embrace a truly dinkum style of campaigning. Paramount to this new paradigm of grass roots truly antipodean electioneering would be the resurrection of a number of iconic artefacts of classic Australiana.
For starters all campaigning politicians would be encouraged to wear the ‘traditional’ corkscrew hat, regardless of whether they were in a rural or urban environment. The accompanying t-shirt, “NO FLIES ON ME”, would be optional but footwear would be solely restricted to thongs of Uggs.
Handshakes would still be acceptable although the kangaroo paw back scratcher, a favourite of souvenir shops in the 60s, would be put to good use. Naturally it would provide TV crews with the perfect visual metaphor with candidates out scratching voters’ backs from one end of their electorate to the other.
For the countless photo ops, a musical accompaniment on the largerphone or wobble board would not be out of place with a selection of 70s pub rock favourites. Every politician loves a group of nodding heads behind them when they face the media but let’s dress those sycophants appropriately – in koala suits like the old Wilderness Society collectors.
And speaking of Australian fauna, part of the campaign bus could contain an all Aussie petting zoo stocked with an assortment of cuddly critters like possums, quokkas and wombats. The bus itself could be decorated not with the candidate’s name but with motifs that evoke the spirit and nostalgia of old school Australiana – like plates of Iced Vo Vos, flannelette pyjamas, tourist boomerangs made in China, sheep skin car seat covers, Choo Choo Bars, sardine sandwiches and bags of broken biscuits – the more obscure and puzzling the better.
Finally it would be great to see all participating political parties launch their election campaign from a destination that just wreaks Great Southern Land – somewhere like Humpybong, Gulargambone, Grong Grong or Yorkeys Knob – names that just roll off the broad Australian tongue. The only exception might be One Nation, and in their case Victoria’s scenic Mount Buggery would be the perfect launch platform for one of their newer candidates (like Mark Latham for example) – with many Australians wishing the party would go to ‘Buggery’!