Twirling towards freedom

Campaign Week 1: Stephanie Banister, Jaymes Diaz and the class of 2013

Religion, or “I can see Islam from my house!”

During an interview staged in One Nation “poster child” Stephanie Banister’s backyard on Wednesday night, the Rankin candidate outlined her views for the benefit of Channel 7. “I don’t oppose Islam as a country,” she said, “but I do feel their laws should not be welcome here in Australia.”

The mother-of-two was previously best known for being arrested and charged earlier this year after plastering stickers on Nestlé products in her local Brisbane shopping centre saying ‘Halal food funds terrorism.’ After this week’s interview, it’s unclear if the bewildered Banister understood precisely what her stickers were claiming. "Two per cent of Australians “follow haram,” she explained. “Or the Koran, as the Islamic text is known?” asked Channel 7’s reporter. “Jews aren’t under haram,” Banister continued. “They have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ. They don't have a tax on [kosher], they've just got a certain way of making it where haram has a tax on the food.''

Haram, halal, Koran, it’s all quite confusing, and as a cowed Banister explained, “Everyone in the world has a lot to learn about day-to-day stuff and everything in life is just about learning.”

Beautiful, no? I might just photoshop that sentence over a picture of a woman doing yoga on a beach and post it to my Pinterest of dangerously under informed xenophobes who learned philosophy from Oprah.


Participation Award

Poor old Jaymes Diaz has the distinction of starring in the first viral video of this year’s election campaign. The Liberal Party candidate for Greenway began his tilt for Sydney’s most marginal electorate on Monday in a Channel 10 interview so excruciating that Tony Abbott himself later called Diaz “to commiserate with him.”

Clutching the Coalition’s Real Solutions pamphlet like a lifeboat, Diaz was unable to outline his party’s six-point plan to stem the flow of asylum seekers. “The boats are also a big issue out here,” he told reporter John Hill, but was unable to elaborate much further. "Well, one of the points, the key point would be stopping the boats when it's safe to do so,” he said, but after being asked eight times to outline the remaining points of the Coalition’s asylum seeker policy, he was coming up blank. Diaz was finally, mercifully, tapped on the elbow by his media adviser and led away. “We support families,” he said, mournfully, and wandered off looking like he’d just been kicked out of a spelling bee.

Tony Abbott told ABC radio, "I gather he had done two good interviews and then he throws up in the third . . . I'm afraid it happens to all of us from time to time.”

The interview is currently circulating throughout the US, where it’s been reported by the Huffington Post, amongst others.


Class Photos

On a campaign visit to Adelaide’s Bickford’s drinks factory this week, Tony Abbott attempted to plant a kiss on 15-month-old Angelique Whittaker but, according to The Age, “Angelique recoiled, (and) his kiss was left in mid-air, unmet.” The wayward kiss was temporarily homeless, but met its mark on the back of the toddler’s mother’s head. Not that Evie Whittaker minded having her hair kissed by the Opposition leader. “I love Mr Abbott," she said later. “I love everything about him.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Rudd paid a visit to the Ryde Uniting Church to talk about his government’s multicultural policies, announcing that Labor would make the Korean language one of the top-five priorities for teaching in schools. The Prime Minister was upstaged by five-year-old Joseph Kim, who danced around, threw out peace-signs and beamed maniacally behind him. 

It was a heart-warming end to a campaign week that has so far been equal parts cringe-making, reality television-level absurdity and chilling Orwellian double-speak.  When little Kim grabbed the moment in the sun he’d clearly been waiting for his whole life, he outshone both Abbott’s creepy-uncle pucker, and the vengeful-but-benevolent Old Testament God-thing the resurgent Rudd’s got going on. Kim, unlike the voters of Australia, knew exactly what to do in the hyper-reality of the electoral media storm, and it was nice, for once, to read the news and smile. 

Michaela McGuire

Michaela McGuire is a journalist and the author of Last Bets: A True Story of Gambling, Morality and the Law and the Penguin Special A Story of Grief. Visit her blog, Twirling Towards Freedom.


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