There’s no more difficult role to play during an election campaign than that of the party leader’s spouse. You know you are just along side as a sideshow with no real role to play apart from appearing supportive. It is such an unnatural role that it’s easy to look embarrassed and awkward. So the opportunity for the Liberals to show that Tony Abbott really does have women in his life was well chosen yesterday.
His wife Margie Abbott is a director of a Sydney child care centre and she has, as she explained to the media, a passion for early learning which meant she was happy enough to be the “and friend” when the would-be Prime Minister launched his child care policy at Brisbane’s Kippa Ring centre.
She looked natural and relaxed in the environment as the television cameramen jostled for position while she listened to the children reading. And her spouse looked surprisingly at home playing king of the kids too. For the party apparatchiks it was as good a made for television appearance as they could have hoped for and enough to make it a winning campaign day for their side.
Not that Julia Gillard had a bad day. She was back on the hospital beat, albeit without a partner, playing to Labor’s strength and the nightly images reinforced the party’s promise to reform the public hospital system. The only weakness was that we have all seen such pictures so many times before in recent months but I suppose that’s what image reinforcement is all ab out.
The Crikey election indicator remained unmoved by it all.