Both sides condemns targeting of candidates during federal election campaign

Both sides condemns targeting of candidates during federal election campaign


May 04, 2019 16:04:39

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described Nazi imagery painted over one of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s billboards as a “deeply disturbing” sign of “ugly hatred” in the election campaign.

Key points:

  • Kristina Keneally likened Scott Morrison’s “space invader” move to Mark Latham’s infamous 2004 handshake with John Howard
  • Mr Morrison has laughed off the comparison and denied he had overstepped
  • Both sides have criticised the targeting of candidates as unacceptable

Mr Frydenberg, who is Jewish, said the swastika and moustache painted over the billboard in his Melbourne seat of Kooyong was a cowardly and criminal act which was an insult to all victims of the Holocaust.

“This incident is not about me or my campaign, but about a broader and disturbing trend in society of antisemitism and intolerance,” he said.

Mr Morrison said a supporter of Victorian Liberal MP Sarah Henderson had also been recently targeted during the campaign.

“One of the worst stories I have heard — true story — Sarah Henderson told me about it, she’s obviously the Liberal member for Corangamite, down near Geelong,” he said.

“One of her supporters had a poster of her in her yard. Someone shot their dog and put the body of the dog below her sign. I mean this is just appalling.

“Sure, we can disagree about these things but that doesn’t give anyone the right to engage in this sort of ugly hatred.”

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen condemned the vandalism of Mr Frydenberg’s campaign material, which has previously been targeted, as “utterly unacceptable”.

Prime Minister accused of a ‘Mark Latham moment’

Both leaders have also been dealing with the wash-up from Friday night’s second leaders’ debate, with Labor MPs criticising the Prime Minister’s performance as “aggressive”.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten described Mr Morrison as a “classic space invader” as the Prime Minister leaned in during a tense discussion about tax policy.

Labor Senator Kristina Keneally likened it to Mark Latham’s infamous handshake with former Prime Minister John Howard during the 2004 election campaign.

“Last night we saw the real Scott Morrison. Not the knockabout bloke, not the daggy dad, but someone who is arrogant, aggressive and quite frankly, desperate,” she said.

“His space invader moves, they weren’t pretty at all.”

Mr Morrison laughed off the comparison and rejected suggestions he had overstepped the mark.

“I was just simply trying to encourage him to tell the truth and to look me in the eye and tell me the truth and he couldn’t do that either,” he said.

“I’m happy for Bill Shorten to put on a cabaret performance in a debate but that’s not how you run a country and I don’t think that’s what Australians want to see.”

The crowd of undecided voters watching the debate handed a narrow victory to Mr Shorten.

More candidates questioned

Both leaders were hoping to move on from the candidate dramas overshadowing the campaign in recent days, as two Labor and three Liberal candidates were disendorsed.

Five candidates who didn’t make it to election day

However, Labor’s candidate for the West Australian seat of Durack, Sharyn Morrow, is said to be “deeply ashamed” following reports about online comments she allegedly made about refugees in 2013.

“These are inappropriate, old posts and Sharyn is deeply ashamed of them. They don’t represent her views,” a campaign spokesperson said.

The Liberal Party has defended its candidate for the seat of Canberra, Mina Zaki, after questions were raised about whether she had fully renounced her Afghan citizenship.

“Despite the difficult circumstances, Mina Zaki has indeed managed to renounce her Afghan citizenship and obtain from the Government of that war-torn country documentary confirmation that she has lost her Afghan nationality,” a campaign spokesman said.

“She would be an outstanding representative for the people of Canberra.”

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