How good was the Australian election campaign? The funniest moments from a mad month

It wasn’t all policy pronouncements and mindless soundbites. Naaman Zhou looks back on the good times we had together

LIVE - Australian federal election 2019: Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten head to the polls as voting begins

‘Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus.’

Kind words haunt Angus Taylor. Since 1 May, they are the only thing anyone says to him online. The same six words follow him like a lost puppy. And for once it isn’t “Eastern Australia Agriculture/Eastern Australia Irrigation”.

All because the energy minister’s official Facebook page was caught saying them to itself. Under his own post about new car parks, Taylor’s page accidentally commented: “Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus.”

A mistake anyone can make on a hectic campaign trail: Congratulating yourself from the wrong account. #humevotes #ausvotes2019

— 💧Isabel M (@mumdaze) April 30, 2019

Taylor now can’t so much as breathe on social media without being swamped by the phrase. Under every post he makes, the comments run into the hundreds.

me whenever I show off my soccer skills:

— Angus Livingston (@anguslivingston) May 1, 2019

In Goulburn today I saw Angus Taylor posters that had been graffitied with the words "Fantastic, Well Done" and I am sorry I do not have photos as I was driving.

— Eliza Berlage (@verbaliza) May 7, 2019

angus taylor's mentions are still an absolute scene

— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) May 5, 2019

It’s got so bad his social media minders have started pre-emptively referring to it, like a tired boxer wincing before the hit.

“Predicting this shared post will receive many positive comments,” the page wrote on 10 March.

“Fantastic. Great prediction. Well done Angus,” they said.

The first leaders’ debate

Bill Shorten and Scott Morrison faced each for the first time, formally, in Western Australia.

Channel Seven’s TV debate was an incredible spectacle, widely panned for its baffling set-up. Airing after Bargain Hunt and before The Vicar of Dibley, it lost the ratings battle that night to Lego Masters.

Morrison and Shorten didn’t seem to know how it worked. Perched on awkward stools, with a camera in each face, they had to be told they were allowed to move around and look at each other.

love watching the hosts remind Bill Shorten that he is indeed allowed to look at Scott Morrison

— sam langford (@_slangers) April 29, 2019

It looks like Morrison or Shorten are in the running to win $100k if they answer an obscure set of trivia questions correctly #LeadersDebate

— Dan Smith (@0DanSmith) April 29, 2019

It looked like a bad gameshow. It felt like performance art designed to subvert your conceptions of a debate. Every few minutes, host Basil Zempilas would interrupt the debate, remind us that we were watching the debate, and then reintroduce two other hosts (Mark Riley and Lanai Scarr) to ask questions. After the “final summation”, the moderators then … asked another question.

This is a bizarre format. Why do we need a host to introduce the moderators every three minutes? #Leadersdebate

— Rob Stott (@Rob_Stott) April 29, 2019

Televisually, that was like being stuck in a tumble dryer with two faces taking turns of grinning or smirking out the glass door #ausvotes #LeadersDebate

— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) April 29, 2019

Andrew Probyn’s face

The former PMs were the stars of Labor’s campaign launch. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard joked with each other like best mates, and Paul Keating ambushed the ABC’s Andrew Probyn and Jane Norman seemingly for the fun of it.

The Keating interview dominated the news for a few days – for his ability to explain Labor’s policies better than Shorten, and the nostalgia of his put-downs: calling Morrison a “fossil in a baseball cap” and declaring Australia’s spy chiefs had “all gone berko”.

But the most prime ministerial moment was his entrance. A full 20 minutes early, not caring, he came in from right of screen like a slow missile; a disembodied hand wielding live TV as a comedic weapon.

That moment when a former PM surprises you on air@andrewprobyn: You snuck up behind me
Paul Keating: I've done that a bit of that in my life

— Brett Worthington (@BWorthington_) May 5, 2019

New profile pic for @andrewprobyn

— Fergus Hunter (@fergushunter) May 5, 2019

Probyn’s expression was priceless. As was the complete, mischievous silence with which Keating sat down – offering no help as his hosts desperately vamped. Watch for the rate at which Probyn flips the pages of his notebook – my count is five times within 15 seconds.

An honourable mention must also go to the many Rudd and Gillard reunion memes, as they wandered the conference hall, all smiles, like nothing had ever happened.

Is this like Avengers, with Labor operatives time-travelling to sort out previous cock-ups?

— James Jeffrey (@James_Jeffrey) May 5, 2019

Cute. Mum and Dad spent years slugging it out in Family Court, but they are coming to the wedding!

— 𝕤𝕒𝕞𝕒𝕟𝕥𝕙𝕒 𝕞𝕒𝕚𝕕𝕖𝕟 (@samanthamaiden) May 5, 2019

The unbreakable egg

In Albury, a protester slapped an egg on the prime minister’s head, but it skidded off like a ski slope. The ABC’s Dan Conifer found the egg intact. Attention quickly turned to its unique ballistic properties.

The moment a protester tries to egg the PM during a Country Women’s Association luncheon at Albury-Wodonga.

Scott Morrison says his concern was for an older lady who was knocked off her feet during the incident.

Details @7NewsCanberra #7NEWS #ausvotes2019 #auspol

— Andrea Nicolas (@AndreaLNicolas) May 7, 2019

A protester thrown an egg the Prime Minister Scott Morrison at an event in Albury (it didn’t break). #auspol

— Dan Conifer 🗳 (@DanConifer) May 7, 2019

How did it not break? Sleuths pored over the footage like it was the Zapruder film. The ABC’s caption on the primary evidence was perhaps intentionally hilarious.

— Lane Sainty (@lanesainty) May 7, 2019

— stanley smucci (@ABigDumbBaby) May 7, 2019

How soft is ScoMo's head that an egg doesn't break on it

— Rob Stott (@Rob_Stott) May 7, 2019

UAP candidate videos

Clive Palmer’s relaunched United Australia party has lined the pockets of Australia’s advertisers with more than $60m. The party scrabbled together enough candidates to run in every lower house seat – despite 40% of them not living where they’re running. Burned by Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus, he also made them promise to reimburse him $400,000 if they left the party after winning a seat.

The other thing he made them do? All read the exact same policy statement, awkwardly, to camera.

‘I’m Korean’

Scott Morrison’s foray into foreign languages lasted 48 hours. On the first Saturday of the campaign, he said hello (in Mandarin) to a voter in Sydney’s Strathfield, thinking she was Chinese. She was not.

Ah the perils of the campaign street walk. Scott Morrison says “ni hao” to an Asian voter in Strathfield plaza, she responds: “I’m Korean.” #ausvotes

— Michael Koziol (@michaelkoziol) April 13, 2019

.@ScottMorrisonMP has had his first street walk of his campaign in the inner west Sydney suburb of Strathfield, greeting locals and visiting a restaurant.@annelisenews: There was a bit of confusion about what kind of restaurant he was in.

MORE: #auspol

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 13, 2019

Despite the Sky News reporter saying the incident happened “in a restaurant”, the encounter clearly happened on the street.

By Monday, non-English greetings were declared persona non grata. “I’m no Asian languages expert,” Morrison said. “So I’m going to say G’day to everyone.”

gonna start accosting white guys in the street with a big ole guten tag til they learn their lesson

— Alex Lee (@alex_c_lee) April 13, 2019

Someone calling Bill Shorten a prick

On a campaign stop in Hobart, Bill Shorten danced with danger. Local woman Sandi Fitzgerald approached him at the farmer’s market, disdain in her eyes. In front of the cameras, she told him: “That bloody Bill Shorten is a prick.”

Then she realised she had confused him with someone else. “No, not you,” she said. “Scott Morrison!” She laughed, shook his hand and took off, saying: “Hope you get in darl!”

A very pleased Shorten returned to his scheduled media activities: eating oysters, drinking Tasmanian gin and eating a curry. Hmm, maybe he wasn’t the winner here.

The promise of Australia

It is Scott Morrison’s vision for this country as our Prime Minister to keep the Promise of Australia to all Australians. Got it?

It is my vision for this country as your Prime Minister to keep the Promise of Australia to all Australians.

— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) May 12, 2019

This unrivalled piece of political messaging was sent out the day of the official Liberal launch. It was not received well.

this sentence is like those ones you see on fridges where people have put the random magnets together

— Aaron Gocs (@AaronGocs) May 12, 2019

I'm pretty sure that the writers for @VeepHBO are slowly infiltrating every level of Australian government.

— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) May 12, 2019

"the promise of australia" sounds like a cruise ship

— Tiger Webb (@tfswebb) May 13, 2019

Captain GetUp

For anybody who believes in the Canberra bubble, I present to you Captain GetUp, the campaign stunt so insular he’s recursive.

It’s complicated. As Paul Keating said to Andrew Probyn – follow the bouncing ball.

Captain GetUp is a satirical parody of GetUp, created by the rightwing group Advance Australia. He pretends to be a campaigner for GetUp, and tells people to vote for candidates that GetUp supports. But cunningly, he does so by saying slightly negative things.

In Captain GetUp’s first week, a columnist for the Australian labelled him “one of the dumbest ideas I’ve seen in politics”. Captain GetUp also happily compared himself to a giant testicle.

a fine fellow & valued foreign donor. If you're not a foreign donor never fear, domestic donations welcome here #captaingetup #auspol #MAFS #Adani

— Captain GetUp! Official! (@CaptGetUp) April 9, 2019

When people said he was reminding them to donate to GetUp, he pushed them to donate more. He was also revealed to be a Colombian YouTuber.

Then Captain GetUp was reprimanded for a “sexualised” video where he rubbed up against a billboard of independent Warringah candidate Zali Steggall.

But, as campaigner Sally Rugg pointed out, if the point of Captain GetUp was to confuse voters into believing him to be from GetUp, then the negative press, the sexism of the stunt, and everything that makes Captain GetUp so stupid, is the point.

Maybe I’m giving too much credit here, but the whole point of “captain getup” is to deliberately confuse punters into thinking that the thing represents actual getup, so who says the grinding video and twittersphere backlash was uncalculated and unintentional?

— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) April 15, 2019

We’re well and truly through the looking glass here.


Naaman Zhou

The GuardianTramp

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