Robots dialing up the fear. With a blackout on election advertisements voters are being hassled by intrusive ‘robocalls’. A bipartisan business group in Queensland is bombarding voters in other states with automatic calls warning against Labor’s mining tax. WA Today outed the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) as the source behind the calls.

South Australian residents who received the automated voice messages have called them “alarmist” in urging an anti-ALP vote. CCIQ President David Goodwin told Crikey the non-government enterprise took exception from both parties from time to time and that “…CCIQ over recent years has gone to significant lengths to be a balanced, representative and non partisan organisation.” When asked whether the company was specifically anti-Labor, Goodwin replied: “We take offense to the mining tax issue … take that how you will.”

But as with all things political, this is not a one-sided operation. Annabel Crabb on ABC’s The Drum reported that Labor had also engaged the services of robocalls through the seat of Wright in south-east Queensland in a direct campaign against Liberal candidate Scott Buchholz. Similarly, The Australian reports a Labor-fuelled anti-Greens message, conducted through robocalls made way back in March this year. — Crikey intern Jasmin Pfefferkorn

Australian election? The world doesn’t care. It seems the rest of the world is as underwhelmed as we are over the choice of leaders in our federal election. International newspapers have decided earlobes and crocodiles are more interesting. As The Guardian wrote last week: “the campaign seems more concerned with the campaign than anything.”

The London paper noted: “So far it has been a very negative election campaign, with both sides prepared to criticise the other but not stick their own necks out on any sort of visionary policy… A uniform swing of 2.3% across the country is all it will take to change the government. The polls suggest the race is neck and neck, and neither side wants to risk getting voters offside.”

The Guardian‘s Simon Tisdall has also written about the gender question in this election: “…the Venus versus Mars narrative obscures a political black hole: no one is entirely sure what the election is about or why it is even being held.” He goes on to say: “There are several possible explanations why Julia Gillard … is losing support as the 21 August general election nears. The most controversial is that it’s because she is a woman.” Tisdall also draws attention to Gillard’s earlobes, but keeps things fair by saying that Abbott “has funny ears too”.

Our friends in America have largely ignored us. At the New York Times not much was said about the Australian election, but they did find room to note that: “Ms. Gillard … is widely viewed as a hard worker and a clear communicator, despite being routinely mocked for her ever-changing hairstyles and broad nasal accent.” The Washington Post linked Labor to the American Democratic Party, and the Liberals to the Republicans. Op-ed writer E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote: “…her Labor Party will be using a central argument that U.S. Democrats hope to invoke against the Republicans … Abbott’s party is running on themes the Republicans hope to use here.”

China’s People’s Daily noted Gillard’s declaration of the economy being central to the campaign, while the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror was mainly concerned about the effect of Australia’s election on migration policies. In France at the Herald de Paris, psychic animals were still a la mode, with Paul the octopus shunned in favour of crocodile Harry, a Darwin croc who has predicted a Labor win. Crocodile coverage was also one of the main ‘Australian election’ stories in the Ethiopian Review. — Crikey intern Jasmin Pfefferkorn

Next up: Lady Gaga announces her support for Abbott. What is it with random international celebrities offering up their voting tips to the nation? A few week’s ago we had singer Kelly Rowland revealing she supported women leaders, so supported Julia Gillard. Model Jerry Hall let ABC’s Stateline know who she’s gunning for in tomorrow’s election: Gillard, because she’s sexy. “She’s attractive, your prime minister. Very attractive,” says Hall.

Bookie Watch. The swing is on — in punting circles anyway — with a late plunge coming for the Coalition at Sportingbet Australia. Tony Abbott has been backed into $3.15 from $3.60, with a lot of money being placed on Coalition wins in marginal seats in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Sportingbet Australia CEO Michael Sullivan said Labor, who have drifted from $1.28 to $1.35, looked a certainty just a week ago when some enormous bets arrived for them but things had changed in the last 24 hours. “Bets of $10,000 and $5000 have been rolling in all morning for the Coalition and we haven’t taken a single decent bet on Labor in two days,” Sullivan said.

Who ratted on Kev? Some humour has returned to the election campaign up here in Leichhardt. It has actually prompted a fair bit of discussion around the traps as to what rat f-cked actually meant, because most people just assumed it to be an offensive throw-away line. Apparently not so. A bit of Googling later finds it to be a perfect way to describe poor Kevin’s demise! — a Crikey reader


Humpty Watch. And here’s Scott Morrison doing some last-minute campaigning at the ABC:


Attack ads out West. Here’s a classic scare ad from Western Australia sent in to us by a Crikey reader:


CEC kids go postal. This was being handed out last night at the Oak Park train station in outer Melbourne. I would have thought this pamphlet was being handed out by the Chaser boys or was part of the The Onion if the people handing them out hadn’t been so serious. — a Crikey reader

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