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The Australian Election Just Became All About Brexit

"Jobs and growth" is out. "Instability and uncertainty" is in.

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Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull held an emergency press conference on Friday afternoon to respond to the historic Brexit vote. "There is no cause for Australians to be alarmed by these developments," he said sombrely.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

"However, there will be a period of uncertainty and instability in global markets," he said. "Now more than ever Australia needs a stable, majority Coalition government, with an economic plan."

With seven days to go until the election, Turnbull is using the "uncertainty" that now clouds the future of the EU to make the case to return his Coalition government.

The PM, who has previously expressed a desire for the UK to remain in the EU, has dropped the optimism and the "jobs and growth" mantra. It was a revamped political pitch.

"A strong majority government. A strong economic plan. That is what Australia needs in these times of opportunity and, as we have seen, uncertainty."

For those watching on, enduring the marathon eight-week election campaign, Brexit is *the* turning point.

If there's one major turning point in the #auspol campaign, this is it. Turnbull on front foot responding to #Brexit already

Labor has spent the campaign refining its core message. The last week was spent banging the drum, over and over, about Medicare and the public health system. The shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, didn't want the Brexit vote to change that.

"Now is not the time for these impacts to be politicised or dramatised in a scare campaign," said Bowen. "What we need is a clear, calm, and methodical approach through this situation."

But Brexit also gave encouragement to the anti-immigration right-wing of the Liberal party. Former prime minister Tony Abbott called it a "brave and momentous decision".

(1/2) A brave and momentous decision by the British people taken against the advice of foreigners (including me!).

And linked it to the Coalition's economic policy.

(2/2) There will be more chance of an Oz FTA with Britain than with the EU.

Even before Brexit, Labor needed to pull off a historic victory – no opposition has toppled a first-term federal government in 85 years. Now that task will be even harder.

With the advantage of being the incumbent and the Australian stock market crashing, Turnbull has decided to make the election all about Brexit with a new three-word slogan: "instability and uncertainty".

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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