Back in April, we said sport would likely be a major player during this election. Australia is a sporting, sports-loving, sports-mad country, and politicians often see connecting to the sports as a way of connecting to the voters; especially swinging voters in those marginal, working-class areas that will likely decide the outcome of the national poll.
Well, we're at the halfway mark of the campaign, and the prediction is coming true.
Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull have spent nearly as much time on sporting fields and throwing footballs around as they have wearing high-vis vests and touring factories.
Watch this girl nutmeg Shorten:
Hanging around on the field, having a pass with the players or the kids, and getting in a few photos with the sporting stars of each particular electorate is an easy publicity opportunity for leaders. It also doesn't hurt to drop a little bit of money for new floodlights, a refurbishment of the clubhouse or resurfacing of the cricket pitch while you're there.
"Sport is a metaphor for life," Turnbull declared on a visit to the Penrith Panthers NRL facility in March.
"It creates the values and the ethos upon which communities thrive: hard work, perseverance, teamwork, innovation, agility."
It is also political gold for politicians who are often pegged as out-of-touch with the common Australians. It's a wonderful tool to connect with the electorate at large. Who doesn't love sport? It additionally offers some wonderful opportunities for thinly-veiled metaphors about the election campaign itself.
Wednesday night was the opening game of the State of Origin rugby league series, with politicians on all sides clamouring to make their allegiances known. Turnbull, and his fellow NSW MPs Craig Laundy and Scott Morrison got in on it:
While Bill Shorten, after an earlier slip of the tongue where he said he was supporting the Melbourne Storm in the game between NSW and Queensland, tipped the Maroons:
Barnaby Joyce, a former QLD Senator now representing a NSW electorate, found it hard to split his allegiances:
Not content with just watching, our pollies have tried to get in on the games as well -- with mixed results.
Bill Shorten has thrown a footy around with some kids in Darwin. And yes, he did actually touch the ball pic.twitter.com/lAAbCBe6QI— Liz Burke (@lizeburke) May 26, 2016
And of course, who can forget Richard Di Natale's classic catch, as part of a video highlighting the dire state of the Murray River:
It's also a good look for politicians besides the major party leaders
It was wonderful to meet the students of the Clontarf Academy in Dubbo this morning. pic.twitter.com/ZlRbJnAwip— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) May 20, 2016
And yes, it's not technically an election season picture, but we couldn't NOT include this masterpiece of Australian politics:
Once again for the second year in a row I scored the most number of tries at the annual Katter family holiday. pic.twitter.com/73SPo2bXnf— Hon Bob Katter MP (@RealBobKatter) April 6, 2016
We've got four more weeks and a lot of marginal, working-class seats still up in the air. Expect this trend to keep going.