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Ignore the hype: Shorten's gaffes haven't damaged his path to The Lodge

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Small stumbles can easily look like moments of high drama in the early stages of an election campaign. So it was this week when Bill Shorten botched a press conference and was instantly fielding media advice about a “reset” to get his message back on track.

The way Shorten blustered his way through good questions about his tax revenue increases in superannuation and the economic impact of his climate change policy was one of the surprises of the campaign so far.


It was as if the Labor leader took voters for granted and felt no need to explain his policies – or had simply forgotten a lazy $30 billion in revenue.

It was a display of nerves. Shorten has been so far ahead in the polls, and the government has been so divided, that this has become an unlosable election for Labor. As the favourite, Shorten chose to play it safe on every awkward question rather than risk a serious answer.

The tactic failed, as it should. What is the point of an election campaign if a leader cannot remember his policies or will not explain them? Even so, the blunder was a small moment in the sedate early stages of the campaign.

If this was a sprint, everything so far would be like the warm-up at the track when the athletes are doing their stretches and the cameras are zooming in on the starting blocks.

Shorten has talked about health for two weeks straight. He has been announcing elements of his $2.3 billion cancer package almost every day, giving everyone a slice of bread at every stop when the loaf itself is old news from his budget reply speech.

This is a cautious way to start the campaign, on a subject where Labor will........

© Brisbane Times