Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been left red-faced after spending time on the faux campaign trail ridiculing a Labor policy, only to find his party adopted it first.
A secretly recorded video leaked to the media shows Mr Morrison attacking Labor’s policy requiring 50% of all cutlery sold in Australia to be chopsticks by the year 2030.
In the video, recorded at a factory photo-op in Queensland, Mr Morrison brandishes a knife and fork and says: “These are what fair-dinkum Aussies eat with.
“Eating irons is what they’re called – made from steel which is made from coal using fair dinkum electric power.
“These are all that Australians have needed for generations to get through a nice 400-gram rump from somewhere around the world’s beef capital, Rockhampton.”
“But that lying Bill Shorten and Labor want to take them off you.”
Replacing his Ford cap with a Holden cap halfway through his statement for specifically targeted bogun videos to be uploaded on social media later in the day, Mr Morrison made it clear the LNP would never, ever, following Labor’s demands that half of all meals in Australia by 2030 should be eaten with chopsticks and not knives and forks “as has been our proud British tradition since Captain Cook and the First Fleet circumnavigated Australia in 1770”.
At that point in the video the Prime Minister goes further and makes what political observers claim is a strategic error akin to the infamous “Chinese students with PhDs” comments that sunk Labor leader Michael Daley in the last week of the NSW state election campaign.
In hindsight, and with Christchurch in mind, Mr Morrison is probably now regretting his decision to cast aside his Holden cap and don a traditional straw Asian field worker’s hat, known by the politically incorrect term “coolie hat”, and sticking chopsticks up his nose, and using his fingers to spread his eyes sideways so they looked quite slanty.
Factory workers near him can be seen on the video shuffling in embarrassment but, apparently thinking he was successfully bonding with the all-male, white, blue-collar audience, Mr Morrison then says: “This is how rying Birr Shorten wants us to rook rike and eat with if, heaven help Austlaria, he gets to be plime minister…”
At that point aides interrupt the Prime Minister and advise him that the LNP already has on its books a policy that 50% of all new eating utensils sold by 2030 onwards should be chopsticks rather than knives and forks.
Mr Morrison and his staff then quickly departed the factory.
His blunder was quickly seized on when at a media call at a Brisbane hospital Labor Senator Kristina Keneally mocked his comments by displaying photograph after photograph of a number of the PM’s senior ministers enjoying eating meals with chopsticks.
A Labor spokesperson made it clear that the 50% sales of chopsticks by 2030 was only a target and “Australians will be quite entitled to keep using knives and forks for as long as they like after that”.
Coalition insiders said the Prime Minister’s “unfortunate behaviour” at the factory would likely not hit the Liberal Party’s vote in the same way Mr Daley’s disastrous video impacted Labor’s vote in the last week of the NSW state election.
“The difference is that Daley fucked up in the last week of the campaign, while Scott has fucked up in what is probably the last week of the non-campaign so we’ve got time to recover,” the insider said.
As part of the recovery plan Mr Morrison hit back hard late in the day: “Don’t believe those Labor lies. That’s all they do. Lie and tax. Tax and lie. Bill Shorten couldn’t tax straight in bed. You mark my words. Get caught after 2030 eating a meal with a knife and a fork and you’ll be marched out in long winding queues into cane fields and you’ll cop a bullet in the back of your heads for your troubles.”
The PM made his statement in time for it to lead regional evening TV news programs and the country editions of News Corp Australia papers around the nation.