Australian Politicians Are Now Trying To Explain Memes. Please Can We Just Have The Election Already

    If the endless slog of an election campaign wasn't hard enough, politicians now have to compete with a new royal baby and impossible sporting comebacks for our attention.

    What you need to know:

    - Labor will release its costings on Friday, as the campaign nears its final week

    - Almost 1.5 million people have already voted

    - Peter Dutton made a rare appearance on the campaign trail as border protection became a talking point for the first time this campaign

    - Clive Palmer's United Australia Party has said it is "undecided" on vaccinations

    - Bill Shorten and Scott Morrison clashed over climate change, tax and the economy in last night's leaders debate

    Well hello there! I suppose you've come here for some election campaign coverage have you?

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    You want me to tell you what's going on with just over a week until election day do you?

    David Mariuz / AAPIMAGE

    You do realise we just got our first look at the new royal baby and there was another unbelievable night of football don't you?

    Twitter

    OK, fiiiiiiiiine, I'll do it. Grab yourself a drink and let's jump right into it.

    First up, almost 1.5 million people have now voted. Around 240,000 voted just yesterday. They all voted before waiting to see what happened in the third leaders' debate last night. Which, to be honest, is fair enough.

    As of COB Wednesday 8 May approximately 1.4m people have cast their vote at an early voting centre for the 2019 federal election. About 237k were cast yesterday. #ausvotes #auspol

    Neither prime minister Scott Morrison or Labor leader Bill Shorten landed any knockout blows during the debate, with the pair clashing over the usual topics of climate change, tax plans, health spending and childcare.

    Bill Shorten says it's a charlatan's question to ask about the cost of a climate change policy without interrogating the cost of not combating climate change #ausvotes #LeadersDebate

    Scott Morrison says action is being taken on climate change, and business wants to know how much Labor's policy will cost #ausvotes #LeadersDebate

    During answers over national security, Morrison asked Shorten who would be in charge of the Department of Home Affairs under his government, to which the Labor leader responded by asking where environment minister Melissa Price was. Price has been almost invisible during the campaign so far.

    Shorten asks if Morrison will keep his environment minister. PM says yes. Shorten: "where is she, where is she?!" #LeadersDebate #auspol #ausvotes

    And then we had an exchange about retiring cabinet members and the ability to "take a joke".

    .@billshortenmp: If you win you'll have more people to promote because so many of your current ministry is leaving. @ScottMorrisonMP: No need to get nasty. Smile Bill, it was a joke. Watch live: https://t.co/WPRu9HztQ6 #ausvotes

    At one point Morrison used all the tenses available in the English language to declare: "I said we brought the Budget back to surplus next year."

    And Shorten tried to explain an Obama meme.

    It was all a bit exhausting and the evening news bulletins already had their headline from Shorten's emotional press conference about his mother earlier in the day.

    Many Labor people believe the Tele front page y’day has been a blessing in disguise for their campaign because of Bill Shorten’s powerful response: “That moment just won us the election” says one #AusVotes2019

    Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Clive Palmer's United Australia Party has said the party was undecided on immunisation, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

    Exclusive: Clive Palmer's party says it is undecided on child immunisation after candidate questions the evidence for vaccines #ausvotes https://t.co/ZrS5lkOrXR

    "The United Australia Party hasn't finalised a position on this at this stage," spokesman Andrew Crook told the newspaper.

    Crook was responding to questions over a report that UAP candidate Alexander Stewart had questioned vaccination advice.

    "What I am saying is that we need to ask questions. Mere effectiveness is not good enough in the public arena ... we need to consider the side effects," Alexander said.

    "If you want me to remove the weeds from my garden, one option is to use a nuclear weapon. Yeah it would remove the weeds from the garden, but it would have a lot of consequences."

    Alexander, who calls himself a "vaccination questioner", claimed he cured his children's whooping cough and measles "in a day or two using large doses of vitamin C", the SMH reported.

    Palmer was also making headlines for having a go at Shorten's franking credits policy, asking: "Why is he such a bastard to these people?"

    "Why does Bill Shorten want to destroy these people’s lives? Why is he such a bastard to these people?" Clive Palmer's brutal radio tirade: https://t.co/3ozOOKZdI6 #auspol #ausvotes #ausvotes19

    The Liberal party is still facing questions over candidate Gurpal Singh, who linked same-sex marriage and pedophilia. Singh remains the party's candidate in Scullin.

    Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Gurpal Singh on @abcmelbourne this morning. #auspol #ausvotes @politicsabc

    The Guardian was intrigued by Morrison's claim on Tuesday that the government had already passed legislation dealing with the threat of mass extinction warned by a new UN report, so asked what he was referring to. Answer: silence.

    When asked what the legislation was, the PM's office did not reply to @GuardianAus. The office of environment minister Melissa Price also did not respond when asked what Morrison was referring to https://t.co/leTvNo8OYl #auspol #ausvotes2019 #ausvotes #ausvotes19

    But there was time for a spot of bingo.

    .@ScottMorrisonMP calling the bingo at the Panthers Club in Port Macquarie The marginal seat of Cowper is held by the Nationals, but is at risk of falling to Independent Rob Oakeshott @2GB873 @NewsTalk4BC @3AW693 @6PR @1395FIVEaa

    Shorten spoke to Triple M this morning and joked he wondered if former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had placed the $1 million bet on Labor winning next week's election.

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins Moonman In The Morning at 8:40am on 104.9 Triple M

    Malcolm by the way is out there tweeting today about action on climate change. No wrecking, no sniping etc etc.

    The UK’s political challenges are not enviable, but at least there is longstanding bipartisan support for tackling climate change and moving to net zero emissions and, in particular, away from burning fossil fuels. https://t.co/pAqklXHkPI

    Morrison rejected any suggestion of a deal with Palmer to make any tax cuts for larger businesses.

    Scott Morrison 'categorically, completely' rules out business tax cuts https://t.co/nOvlqqt6zB #auspol #ausvotes19 w/ @andrewtillett

    And have a look who finally turned up.

    Only the Morrison Government will keep our borders secure. Our strong border protection policies under OSB have ended the deaths at sea and enabled us to close 19 detention centres, ensuring the removal of every child placed in detention by Labor.

    Home affairs minister Peter Dutton, who is fighting to hold onto his seat in Dickson, fronted the media in Townsville today to talk about the dangers of a Labor government.

    "If they [Labor] are elected into government and they bring people en masse from Nauru and Manus, I promise you the boats will restart," the AAP quoted Dutton as saying.

    Dutton said the Coalition's policy would not change if re-elected and again warned of New Zealand being used as a "back-door" for those trying to get into Australia if a relocation deal for asylum-seekers is struck .

    Labor senator Kristina Keneally accused Dutton of staging a scare campaign.

    "Peter Dutton, being let out of the cave, out there in Townsville, trying to scare people, one has to ask: Is Mr Dutton, indeed, auditioning for some job in the future? Perhaps Peter Dutton is showing us his audition tapes for the role of leader of the party after the election," The Guardian quoted her as saying.

    The Liberal party is staging its official campaign launch this weekend. Morrison has already said it will be a smaller affair than Labor's. Shorten meanwhile will be on Insiders as the campaign enters its final days.

    On #Insiders on Sunday @barriecassidy interviews @billshortenmp #auspol #ausvotes #ausvotes19

    Enjoy your evening everyone and make sure you check back in tomorrow for all the weird and wonderful goings-on in Election 2019!

    Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Richard James at richard.james@buzzfeed.com.

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