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Was this Cormann's "Steven Marshall moment"?

Politics

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann may have had his “Steven Marshall moment” of the federal election campaign, accidentally and expansively praising Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as “caring and very much in touch”.

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The unintentional tribute was reminiscent of the South Australian Liberal leader who, on the final day before the 2014 state poll, absent-mindedly urged electors to “vote Labor”.

Cormann, the Government’s campaign spokesman, was holding a morning media conference at Parliament House today when he suddenly went off-beam, delivering a warm and generous character assessment of the Opposition Leader, who this week drew level with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on a Newspoll net satisfaction level of minus 12.

“Bill Shorten is very caring and very much in touch,” Cormann insisted.

“And Bill Shorten, every single day, is promoting our national economic plan for jobs and growth, which is of course exactly what Australia needs.”

Shorten’s net satisfaction rating has improved seven points in the past fortnight, while Turnbull’s has fallen after being on minus 11 two weeks ago – conflicting polling fortunes that helped inspire Labor insiders to leap on Cormann’s gaffe.

If the assembled journalists were left confused, Shorten himself was quick to sniff an opportunity. He obliquely referenced the similarity between the Finance Minister’s Germanic accent and that of Hollywood action star turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, telling media in Melbourne: “I guess Senator Cormann has officially terminated Mr Turnbull’s scare campaign.”

As for Marshall, he had not heard the slip-up when contacted by InDaily, but he offered some empathetic words for his Liberal colleague.

“All I can say is, campaigns can be gruelling,” he laughed.

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