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Campaign Diary: pets, the PM and singalongs


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Wearing his R.M. Williams boots, thirsting for a Coopers and longing for a local shiraz, Prime Minister Tony Abbott rolled into town on the penultimate day of the state election campaign.

He had a present for Liberal Leader Steven Marshall – and it came gift wrapped in an Advertiser front page.

While Premier Jay Weatherill searched for airspace, Green’s leader Mark Parnell got plenty when he grabbed the attention of pet lovers.

All up, it was looking like a dog of a day for Labor.

As the day dawned, voters picked up their copy of The Advertiser to see Tony Abbott will be announcing that “a fleet of smart, giant drones will be housed at Edinburgh and will deliver a $100 million boost to the state”.

The Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicles will patrol the nation’s borders.

Abbot then did the radio rounds – first on 891ABC’s breakfast program at its peak time of 8.30am and then on FIVEaa’s morning program at 9am with Leon Byner.

On the ABC, Weatherill listened patiently to the PM’s announcement and then responded in the best way possible by welcoming the announcement.

The Premier said it was a project that “we’ve been doing a lot of work on”.

The Abbott message was clear: “I don’t think people want to elect a Premier to fight with Canberra, they want someone who can work with Canberra. They want something constructive.”

Again Weatherill had to concede some ground: “You’ve got to know when to fight and when to talk.”

On FIVEaa, where the Premier didn’t even get a gig. Abbott was in full flight.

“I’m wearing my R.M. Williams boots, I drink Coopers beer and love South Australian wine,” he told Leon Byner.

He also had another commitment to push: “The North-South road corridor will be fully upgraded within a decade,” the PM said.

He could work with Steven Marshall on that, he said, unlike Labor which had “been hesitant”.

While Tony Abbott’s visit was blocking out the sun for Jay Weatherill, the Premier was also struggling to beat Greens leader Mark Parnell who had also managed a nice picture and story in The Advertiser as a pet lover.

He had a policy that aims to “ensure that no healthy or redeemable animals are needlessly put to death in our state’s pet shelters.”

This was a cost-free policy, because he was promising to “examine a system that operates in some states in the USA”.

“This push follows similar legislation in jurisdictions of the United States where the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) was created because animal shelters were not voluntarily implementing life-saving programs for animals entering their care,” Parnell told radio listeners.

He had backing too. Mia McKenzie from the No Kill Advocacy group the PAW Project said: “These laws are about creating pet shelters for the 21st century and embracing the fine work of the many rescues in SA. Smarter sheltering will also be popular with the community.”

It was a nice play by the chook-keeper Parnell. He wrapped up his ABC radio interview with a salute to his seven chickens for supplying his breakfast.

Several hours later, he was at it again, rolling out a giant chicken for TV news cameras as he banged the drum about the Electoral Commission’s ruling that Labor’s  campaign material made misleading claims in relation to its voluntary free range eggs labelling code.

“The code, in fact, does not yet exist, and so the Labor Party should not be pretending that it does,” Parnell said.

Predictably, he claimed that Labor had “egg on its face”.

By this time, Campaign Diary was yearning for 6pm Saturday and an end to all this.

But there was more.

Over at commercial music station Mix102.3, the two leaders were being asked incisive questions such as “what does your family think of the TV ads?” before being roped into jointly singing the Cold Chisel song Flame Trees.

Vision of the pre-recorded interview and karaoke-fest had been run on TV news bulletins last night. Marshall and Weatherill can’t sing and nor did they look like they wanted to.

Those poor bastards.

“Oh the flame trees will blind the weary driver
And there’s nothing else could set fire to this town.”

Sometime this afternoon the much-awaited Liberal costings document will be released.

Jay Weatherill will be on board his campaign mini-bus; his last chance for oxygen today will be to find a major error in the costings.

That would be a golden egg.

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