Australia's Next Election Will Be The Battle Of The Daggy Dads
Meat pies, footy, baseball caps... and Parliament House.
Scott Morrison has wasted no time in charting a new course from the stuffy, erudite and well-heeled Malcolm Turnbull, spending his first fortnight as Prime Minister showing how much he loves football, wearing baseball caps, firing up BBQs, and saying things like "g'day" and "fair dinkum".
The coming federal election is heading for a showdown between daggy dads, between who out of Morrison and Bill Shorten can pitch themselves as the most average suburban bloke.
In comparison to down-to-earth former union boss Shorten -- the guy with a goofy grin and a few young kids and a working-class inflection that still has him saying 'three' as 'free' -- Turnbull was always an easy target to paint as out of touch.
'Mr Harbourside Mansion', the former investment banker and lawyer with designer shoes and an apartment in New York City, who spends his weekends kayaking off Point Piper, was an easy target of derision as Labor honed its messages around ordinary people who couldn't afford groceries, rent, medical bills or school fees.
Labor teased him about his fancy clothes and his privileged home life, and called him out of touch; Labor MPs would even refer to him on social media through the use of the top hat emoji.
Shorten isn't a battler by any means, but compared to multi-millionaire Malcolm, he looked like an ordinary suburban dad.
In our changing global political landscape, where voters worldwide are showing a trend of distrusting verbose political elites and instead throwing their support behind more plain-speaking outsiders, Turnbull's background and home life could be seen as a drag on his popularity, and Labor exploited it.
But from day one, Morrison looked to blunt that edge of attack. Just this week, he set up a photo op playing rugby with some local schoolkids, gave a press conference wearing a footy jersey and tossing a ball in his hands, and gave high-profile TV interviews while standing inside a football stadium. He went to Queensland and wore a baseball cap instead of an akubra. He manned a BBQ to cook up some breakfast.
As he reminded us at least once this week, he's a "daggy dad".
Remember how he used to love Taylor Swift (and tell us all about it)? He's gone back to that as he continues his charm offensive, telling Cairns radio how he loves to chuck on a Tay-Tay concert DVD when he's home with his daughters.
"You know, bit of a daggy dad dance and all that sort of thing," Morrison said.
The 'daggy dad' aesthetic is the same one being plugged by the PM's boosters at the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
"A daggy dad who is up for the fight," read a headline on the day of Morrison's ascension to the PM role.
"If that makes me a “daggy dad”, sign me up," the PM himself wrote in a Father's Day message published last week.
Morrison has been keen to play up to the image he has cultivated for several years, a guy who likes footy and meat pies and hanging with his young family. He's been playing up the jingoistic Australianisms, saying things like "mate" and "fair dinkum" and "fair go". He asks people to call him by the kitschy nickname 'ScoMo'. The distinction he is trying to draw between himself and Turnbull is abundantly clear.
But while he's trying to distance himself from his predecessor, there's another political leader Morrison is moving -- inadvertently or not -- closer towards.
Shorten has been working on his daggy dad act for years. He hangs with his dogs, he hangs with his kids, and while he may not be the world's biggest sporting nut, he's trying. On Father's Day, he posted a daggy dad picture, packet of Corn Flakes prominently in frame -- because the ordinary people like Corn Flakes, I guess?
The Brexit and Trump votes show how ordinary folks worldwide are turning away from the sophisticated global elites and looking for someone more down-to-earth and straight-talking (or at least someone who pretends to be) to help them out.
'Mr Harbourside Mansion' perhaps wasn't the right man for these times. Morrison and Shorten will be hoping their daggy dad acts might help them win over suburbia, and in the process, the country.
Who will be the daggiest?
Time will tell.