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A Liberal campaigner in United Australia Party’s clothing

The Liberals and the United Australia Party are swapping preferences. But it looks like they're also sharing campaigners.

United Australia Party tips
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

From the Crikey grapevine, it’s the latest tips and rumours…

Shirt swap. This week the Liberals landed a preference deal with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, which they hope will help them get over the line in a number of key marginal seats. But the Liberals and UAP aren’t just swapping preferences, they also seem to be swapping campaigners.

A Crikey tipster, as well as Ten political editor Peter van Onselenspotted campaigners in the Melbourne seat of Dunkley swapping from Liberal to UAP t-shirts, ostensibly in order to ensure people number their preferences in accordance with how-to-vote cards. Liberal MP Chris Crewther — who holds what is, after redistribution, now a notionally Labor seat — was reportedly around while these substitutions were happening.

Have you seen this woman? Right before Scott Morrison called the election Environment Minister Melissa Price signed off on the last federal approvals for the Adani coal mine, caving to considerable pressure from the hard-right Queenslanders in the Coalition. But don’t expect to hear Price discuss her Adani decision.

Price is notoriously reluctant to give interviews — since she became Environment Minister, she has declined at least 11 invitations from ABC’s 7.30 and The Project’s Hamish Macdonald says he’s “lost count” of the number of times Price had declined an interview. It’s easy to see why The Guardian labelled Price “the invisible minister”.

When Price does give interviews, they’re hardly memorable. Last year, she spoke to the ABC after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report highlighting just how close the threat of irreversible climate change was. Price accused the scientists of drawing a “long bow” with some of their finds, while also admitting she hadn’t actually read the full report.

Keep an eye out for us, and send through any notable sightings via the tip line!

Dishing out the dirt. The respective dirt units of the major parties have clearly been in overdrive in recent months digging up social media material on their opponents. The Liberals have been the worst hit so far, with their candidate for the very winnable Tasmanian seat of Lyons, Jessica Whelan, today becoming the third Liberal candidate to withdraw because of offensive social media postsBut where does that leave Labor’s candidate for the seat of Melbourne, Luke Creasey?

Touted a couple of months ago as a real challenger to the Greens’ Adam Bandt, Creasey has been revealed to have posted a variety of offensive sexual references and “jokes” on social media several years ago. Creasey apologised for the comments but argued they were “a number of years ago” and don’t reflect his views today. That may be fair enough… except that’s not the standard Labor demands of others.

In one of the biggest beat-ups of the election, Labor attacked Macnamara Liberal candidate Kate Ashmor over comments about public schools in a letter to the editor she wrote in 2001. For those counting, that’s more than a decade earlier than Creasey’s vile jokes. “How much worse does this candidate’s behaviour have to get before Scott Morrison takes action?” Labor’s Tanya Plibersek angrily demanded. If that’s Labor’s standard, we await Bill Shorten taking action on Creasey.

Phelps, Stegall join the teardrop club. Casual observers of Auspol Twitter may have noticed a surge of accounts with a droplet emoji next to their names. Prominent independents like Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps and Zali Steggall (who hopes to unseat Tony Abbott in Warringah) both have the emoji next to their names.

But what does it mean? In popular culture, a teardrop tattoo is a widely-recognised symbol that the wearer has spent time in prison or committed murder… It’s safe to assume this is not the case here. Rather, the whole thing goes back to the “watergate” scandal which involved Barnaby Joyce signing off on a multi-million dollar water buyback from a Cayman Islands-based company founded by energy minister, and friend of this column, Angus Taylor.

As the story slowly emerged, drip by drip, over Easter, the emojis began appearing — a symbol of anger at alleged corruption and mismanagement, fueled by a perception that the media wasn’t giving watergate the attention it deserved. The first adopters were leftie keyboard warriors not afraid to go off at their favourite journalists (see the responses to this incredibly ratioed Chris Uhlmann tweet). With Phelps and Steggall on board, the teardrop emoji has gone mainstream and is officially part of the “socially-liberal-fiscally-conservative” set.

ScoMo’s shout. While campaigning in Tasmania this week, both Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten visited Agfest, a field day celebrating all things rural and Tasmanian. Both leaders made time for a beer, because during this election campaign who wouldn’t. But according to the man behind the taps, Shorten paid for his drink and Morrison did not

Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected], use our anonymous form or other ways to leak to us securely.

Peter Fray

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