Chris Kenny writes in The Australian: It was four weeks ago that I wondered whether this would be the dumbest election campaign in history and I think the verdict is in. From the embarrassingly nonsensical climate debate (highlighted by Labor’s pretence it can reduce natural disasters and refusal to reveal any climate costings) to the self-immolation of a dozen candidates (for reasons ranging from dual citizenship stuff-ups to blatant racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia) and Clive Palmer’s insanely wide but shallow advertising campaign, this campaign must hurt the brain of anyone with an IQ above either party’s primary vote.
The Australian Conservatives have refused to be drawn into the frenzied sensationalism that is a federal election campaign holding a principled, steady-as-she-goes approach to policy and campaigning.
But just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, Bill Shorten had decided to play gotcha politics with Scott Morrison’s faith and trap him as being anti-gay. Shorten’s was a deliberate and desperate dive into the politics of faith, sexuality and moral superiority.
“The meanest commentary I’ve seen in the election,” the Labor Leader said when asked about Paul Keating’s scripted invective against Peter Dutton, “is actually the propositions that are being advanced that gay people are going to go to hell.” This was a reference to the Israel Folau controversy and was a purely confected segue. “I can’t believe the Prime Minister has not immediately said that gay people will not go to hell.
“This country needs to really lift itself and the political debate and coverage needs to really lift itself in the next four days,” said Shorten, with a straight face, as he deliberated lowered the tone. “I think if you want to be prime minister of Australia you’ve got to be prime minister for all people … the nation’s got to stop eating itself in this sort of madness of division and toxicity.”
There has been much about this campaign that is highly Americanised, from the new fondness in both major party camps for rallies rather than media conferences to Palmer’s campaign that is rich on advertising but poor on candidates, speeches, interviews and policies. But this attempt to create division and embarrassment by one apparently Christian leader over whether another Christian leader believes homosexuality is a sin and whether he believes in Hell is straight out of the morality politics of the US.
The idea that religious and moral issues should form the core of partisan debates is something this country has traditionally resisted. But incredibly some leftist commentators have already endorsed Shorten’s venture.
It probably will not play out well. It shows that despite Labor’s confident spin and the way it has been echoed by much of the media, the opposition is desperately worried about clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The astounding hypocrisy here adds another level to the stupidity of the campaign. Do Shorten and his fellow spear-throwers like Penny Wong, Mark Dreyfus and Richard Marles really think voters have forgotten the past decade? Was it not the Labor Party under prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard that refused to move on gay marriage? Didn’t Wong, even as a gay woman, say that marriage should remain between a man and a woman (before pushing her own party to change position)?
It was the Coalition who found a way, despite Labor opposition, to hold a plebiscite to give its members cover and give the public a say before legislating same sex marriage. Labor clearly regrets that it failed to deliver this reform and failed to stop the Coalition achieving this historic change under Malcolm Turnbull.
And now Shorten seeks to weaponise personal faith and beliefs about homosexuality.
Conservative Party leader has told ABC Radio National’s Jonathan Green the mood in the electorate is very hard to gauge.