As mentioned previously, I love Australian elections. They are big, they are clever, and they matter. Australia has roughly 22 million people; we have roughly 4.5 million. In their terms, our government is basically a city council: our population of 4,374,749 (when I checked here just now) makes us a bit bigger than Melbourne (3.9 million) and slightly smaller than Sydney (over 4.5 million).
The election on Saturday is between the new incumbent Labor PM, Julia Gillard, and new Coalition leader, Tony Abbott. Both attract visceral opposition from voters and commentators: Gillard because she is a childless unmarried sheila (though she does have a male partner, phew, but on the other hand he is a hairdresser and you can imagine how well that goes down at the RSL), a ginga and a lefty; Abbott because he is Catholic former seminarian, father of three, and a conservative.
My wife and I do not have a horse in this race but are, for the first time, divided politically. She doesn’t like Abbott: no reason given, just doesn’t like him. Maybe it’s his ears? I’m trending towards him: not because he is an economics graduate, a rare thing in a politician, and a former Rhodes scholar but because he is funny. What, you think it should be about policies?
But this is not a two-horse race. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph has its own candidate, Peter Best:
AN UNSTOPPABLE new force has entered the federal election campaign, challenging both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott for the nation’s top job.
The perfect PM is a man who speaks one language, drinks moderately, is university-educated, interested in sport and can cook and change a nappy.
And today The Daily Telegraph can reveal that man.
New prime ministerial candidate Peter Best has vowed to represent the will of the people at all times and do whatever it is voters want him to throughout the campaign.
Do you want to join Peter Best’s campaign team? From speechwriters and poster designers to videographers and pollsters, we need you. Click here to find out more.
All people need to do is go to The Daily Telegraph website and take part in our online poll, giving their views on everything from climate change to asylum seekers. Whatever the results, that’s what Mr Best’s policy will be.
The 45-year-old go-getter will also be touring marginal seats listening to the concerns of voters and getting policy ideas direct from punters.
Almost 10,000 people have had their say on what they want Peter to be – and he is being it.
Over 60 per cent said he should like sport and he does. More than half said he shouldn’t smoke (he doesn’t) and should look good (he does). Most people said it didn’t matter what gender he was but, of the rest, five times as many thought he should be a man. He believes asylum seekers should be processed overseas, but only in countries that have signed the UN convention on refugees. Mining companies should be taxed at 30 per cent, not 40, and companies should pay for the pollution they produce.
Mr Best said yesterday he was humbled by people’s response.
“Can I just say first of all a big thank you to the people who have given me something to believe in – literally.
“Now that I know what people want in a prime minister I will not stop working until I deliver it for them.
“And if they change their minds, well, by God, I will too. In particular I am very relieved that voters preferred a male PM, as that was one change I was not looking forward to making.”
As befits a modern politician, Best is on Twitter. Joe Hildebrand re-tweets a selection. Two examples:
I am very big on making NZ an Australian state. Or at least a territory.
I wasn’t that impressed by Tony Abbott visiting five marginal seats in one day, until I found out he’d jogged to all of them.