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Election 2016: Who Won the Week?

As the election gets underway, we pay thanks to the politicians and random members of the public who make it interesting. This week: Duncan the truck driver and Tony Abbott alone in the rain.

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.

Maddison Connaughton says Peta Credlin Throwing Shade

No one would've guessed, when Sky News announced it was signing Peta Credlin on as a talking head, that Tony Abbott's ex-chief of staff would actually slay everyone she left in her wake. But the notoriously secretive former staffer has proved a pleasantly acerbic surprise.


For some context: this week Malcolm Turnbull cancelled a "street walk" in the Western Sydney seat of Penrith, allegedly out of concerns he'd face criticism from some everyday blokes out front of Coles. Credlin labelled it the election's first gaffe. "If it's known that you were going to do a street walk in Penrith, the last thing you want to do, 'Mr Harbourside Mansion', is look like you don't know and you're not welcome in Western Sydney," she said.

After releasing a Budget that favoured Australia's upper middle class—in a week when the country has been obsessed with Duncan the Truckie taking the government to task on tax breaks for the rich—Credlin's "Mr Harbourside Mansion" burn has to sting for Turnbull.

Lee Zachariah says Duncan the Truckie from Q&A

The Liberal party is traditionally for lowering taxes. So when a working class man asked why his tax-free threshold wasn't lifted in the Budget, the party must have lifted him up as an example of the hard-working battler who asks for nothing more than the government to take a little less out of his pocket… right? If only.

Duncan may have given voice to what must have been—to the majority of Monday's expert Q&A panel—merely an abstract concept. He may have schooled Australian Industry Group (AIG) CEO Colin Willox on how GST works. However, it was what happened next that makes this week belong to him: conservative newspapers from The Australian to the Herald Sun shamefully dragged Duncan over the coals, digging up dirt from his past and skewering him on front pages for not paying any net tax, all as punishment for asking a fairly benign question.


This was the same week those same papers gave Malcolm Turnbull a hall pass when his name was found in the Panama Papers scandal, proving that class warfare is a very real thing, and it has a very human face.

Royce Kurmelovs says Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer

Duncan may have captured the mood of the nation, but it's the villains of that story—Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer and AIG CEO Colin Willox—who made the real news this week.

As much as Malcolm Turnbull and his government have been talking about what they are going to do to overclock the Australian economy if re-elected, what all those promises came down two on Monday night was the surprisingly frank scene of two powerful people schooling the little guy on the way things are.

It was also a moment of clarity on what the whole election is really about. Between them, O'Dwyer and Willcox exposed how the federal government's vision for the future for Australia circa 2016 is one made of recycled ideas from Ronald Reagan in the 80s.

It's no surprise. Arthur Laffer, the guy who invented it, was doing the rounds in Canberra last year to educate senior Liberal figures on his ideas. The only problem is 40 years of lived experience from the US, UK and pretty much anywhere else that signed on to the idea, have shown Laffer's ideas don't work and that cutting corporate taxes doesn't boost growth, it just makes rich people richer and everyone else poor.


Osman Faruqi says the Spectre of Karl Marx

Who would have thought overthrowing capitalism was as easy as voting for the Greens in the Sydney electorate of Grayndler this federal election?

According to the Daily Telegraph the contest between the Greens candidate Jim Casey and Labor's Anthony Albanese is nothing less than a clash between competing economic and social ideologies. The tabloid declared on its front page that voters needed to back Albanese to stop a "radical" intent on "overthrowing capitalism."

Sounds a bit intense for an Australian election, right? If Casey was rattled by the ideological onslaught he didn't show it, responding in an opinion piece that he "welcomed debate about the overthrow of capitalism." Heavy stuff considering our elections tend to be focused on school funding tax cuts.

The brawl between Labor and the Greens over Grayndler dominated headlines all week, totally overshadowing the main contest between Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten.

That's why my winner of the week is Karl Marx, for reaching beyond the grave and somehow injecting into our usually incredibly boring campaigns a little bit of revolutionary fervour. More than 20 years after the Soviet Union collapsed it's good to know Das Kapital is still terrifying politicians and the conservative media.

Special mention goes to birthday boy Bill Shorten for not being named in the Panama Papers.

Julian Morgans says Tony Abbott Looking So Very Alone


That photo of Tony Abbott looking so very alone, handing out flyers in the rain. That photo is the reason Tony wins the week, simply because it explains so much. Presumably Tony thought he was out on the Manly Wharf campaigning with and for the Liberals in an election year. But that's not really why he was there. Tony was there because he can't stop.

When people like Tony Abbott wake up in the morning, they feel differently to people like you and I. They wake up and feel right and know that if they get to the top, the world will be better. Or, more precisely, they want to be at the top because it appeals to them. They never stop and wonder if they should be at the top. They never get distracted. They just climb and climb and climb and some of them eventually become prime minister.

Then when some of them fall from grace, as Tony did so spectacularly, their brains don't recalibrate. They don't take a three-year holiday in the Gili Islands like anyone else would. The just do the only thing they can. They go stand in the drizzle on a Monday morning and start climbing again. Completely alone, but certain they're right.

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