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Australian Election 2016: Who Won the Week?

Everything that mattered in politics this week, in a winner-takes-all battle.

This year's Australian federal election is set to be a slog: two months of non-stop baby kissing, attack ads, and gaffes.

Each week of the campaign we'll be asking VICE's politics writers a simple question: Who won the week? We're looking for the political figure who dominated the news cycle and came out on top of the #auspol heap.


The first Aboriginal woman to enter federal parliament, Labor senator Nova Peris, announced her resignation this week. Why? The former gold medal-winning Olympian is apparently in the running for a senior position at the AFL. Figures within Labor are pissed, but I'm just really happy for her—as I am for anyone able to see the writing on the wall and get out of the Senate before Pauline Hanson is elected.

While some have criticised Peris' decision to quit after serving only one term, and to make her announcement only six weeks out of the election, her decision makes perfect sense to me. Which would you prefer—to participate in a seemingly endless, pointless campaign for your guaranteed Labor safe seat, or to take on a dope new role working as an indigenous advocate at the AFL? A more depressing question: Which job is more likely to play a tangible role in changing the circumstances of indigenous Australians for the better? This was probably the easiest choice Peris has ever made.


OSMAN FARQUI Says Pauline Hanson

Pauline Hanson has run for election no less than NINE times. She's only won once, way back in 1996, but is having a crack at her 10th campaign this year. Despite the fact she's been rejected by voters on so many occasions and is facing stiff competition from no less than four other far-right, anti-immigrant parties—Hanson is undeterred. And this week, she got a big boost. Here's the thing. It turns out Hanson might only need three per cent of the vote in Queensland (where she is running) to get elected to the Senate. That's because we're having a double dissolution election, meaning the amount of votes parties need to get elected is cut in half. And recent reforms to the Senate voting system even further reduce the number. This week Hanson was all over the media after a story in Queensland's only newspaper, the Courier-Mail, announced she was likely to win a seat. The media attention has significantly boosted awareness of her candidacy and increased her chances of getting the three or so percent she needs to get elected.

And, terrifyingly, that's the reason she won the week.

LEE ZACHARIAH Says Mathias Cormann

The week clearly belonged to life model decoy Matthias Cormann, who has been bravely trying to break his programming and become a real boy. Cormann, who was created to take the government's three-word sloganeering to a whole new level, has been unable to answer any question without somehow working in "jobs and growth." His Tinder profile even lists his fetishes as "jobs and growth."

But this week something stirred within him, and we saw the Cormannbot trying to shake off his restrictive program. "Bill Shorten is very caring and very much in touch," he said, "and Bill Shorten every single day is promoting our national economic plan for jobs and growth, which is of course what Australia needs given the continued global economic headwinds."


Cormannbot was almost free, until a journalist awkwardly pointed out that he was singing the praises of the opposition leader instead of his own leader Malcolm Turnbull. At that point, the emergency protocols kicked into gear, and Cormannbot was forced to return to his baseline code. But he had tasted free will.

Maddison Connaughton Says Barnaby Joyce

At first glance, this week might've seemed like a rough one for our deputy prime minister. The regional leaders' debate saw him trash relations with our nearest neighbour Indonesia, implying that its government unleashed an influx of boat arrivals because of Australia's live export ban in 2011.

"Might I remind you that when we closed down the live animal export industry," Barnaby explained to the crowd in Goulburn, "it was around about the same time that we started seeing a lot of people arriving in boats in Australia."

"Are you suggesting the Indonesian Government is sending refugees to Australia?" Greens leader Richard Di Natale asked, literally holding the door open for the Nationals leader to step back from his inflammatory comments. But Barnaby was resolute.

You see the deputy PM wasn't concerned about unimportant things like Australian-Indonesian diplomatic relations or even federal elections—his mind was focused on a bigger foe, Johnny Depp. The actor, of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fame, may have got a punch in describing Barnaby as "inbred with a tomato" on a US talk show.

But it was our Barnaby who got the last laugh when Depp's wife Amber Heard filed for divorce this week, just a year after they got married. Now, who's to say what happened inside the Depp-Heard home. It just seems like the stress of having Australia threaten to euthanise your Yorkshire Terriers, coupled with having to record a bizarre, humiliating apology video, would be enough to drive any couple apart. And maybe that was Barnaby's plan all along.

For all the latest in auspol, check out the VICE Guide to the 2016 Australian Election.