STRANGE POLITICS: Malcolm Turnbull has the election trigger in-hand. So bring on the political stunts. (Digitally altered)
STRANGE POLITICS: Malcolm Turnbull has the election trigger in-hand. So bring on the political stunts. (Digitally altered)

OPINION: Election stunts from stockings to twerking

OUR first post-Bronwyn election in 29 years is just around the corner. Bring on the season of whack-job political stunts!

Dissolving parliament over a failure to get union officials treated like board directors is really a stunt in itself.

Just like Labor's call for a royal commission into banking.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten voted down the Greens' push for the bank inquiry last year and it is apparently one of his core principles.

While this kind of big-slab posturing can make or break a party's chances, we really must celebrate the little, misguided and utterly bizarre publicity grabs any decent flesh-pressing campaign inevitably produces.

Australia has a long and - proud is the wrong word - history of ludicrous political grabs at election time.

Bob Katter is serious about his spuds.
Bob Katter is serious about his spuds. Contributed

Just last week, the term "tawdry political stunt" was bandied around after Governor-General Peter Cosgrove seemed to snub Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek's attempt to shake his hand.

Oh well, her hand will be shaken half to death when the election rolls up.

Last year, the Northern Territory Government loudly celebrated the first concrete pour to signify the beginning of a new hospital in Palmerston - about a year late, mind you.

The foundations were finally laid and the dutiful media were there to witness it.

Five days later, the fake slab was covered over with dirt and the pesky media found out about the PR leg-pulling exercise.

Then there is the ever-affable Clive Palmer, maybe you have heard of him lately?

In his current pickle, it might be easy to overlook his former status as one of the most agile parliamentary stuntmen in the business.

He once twerked his amply proportioned butt cheeks live on camera and radio - presumably it made interesting noises - during a radio broadcast with Kyle and Jackie O.

He rolled up to parliament in sports cars blaring Van Morrison at top volume and once danced on YouTube wearing a bunny onesie.

The guy should teach political science at TAFE, if it exists after July 2.

These kinds of PR high-wire acts can go either way.

Just ask Alexander Downer, who famously donned fishnet stockings and high heels to promote a Rocky Horror Show charity night in 1996.

The image was seared into the national psyche by the hands of mean-spirited political cartoonists for years to come.

Labor's Craig Emerson proved himself way too vocally challenged to even go near Rocky Horror when the whole "Whyalla wipe-out" episode happened.

It was 2012. He was halfway through an interview, waiting ravenously for someone to mention Whyalla - a small South Australian steel town that Tony Abbott warned would be "wiped off the map" by a carbon tax.

Bingo! The reporter asked the question and Emerson's media advisor, just happened to have a boom box with Skyhooks track Horror Movie ready to roll.

"No Whyalla wipe-out, there on my TV," Emerson garbled while swivelling. "Shocking me right out of my brain."

It was gold.

A pristine moment in Australian politics that trumped Bob Katter's release a month earlier of his break- dancing video.

Whether he is scowling in photos at potatoes (to protest spud price cuts) or wheeling a barrow of bananas into Parliament House, Bob Katter is a master of the craft.

As is independent Nick Xenophon, who at different times has used a mule, goats and an Elvis impersonator to make political points.

What a world we live in.

Long live the stunt. -ARM NEWSDESK

STRANGE POLITICS with Chris Calcino
STRANGE POLITICS with Chris Calcino


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