A Strip Club Visit, A Resignation, A Very Weird Debate: Here's What's Happening In Election 2019

    The federal election campaign has decided to give Game of Thrones a run for its money in terms of drama.

    What you need to know:

    - One Nation candidate Steve Dickson has resigned over footage of him making derogatory remarks and groping a dancer at a US strip club

    - One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said she would not condone her candidates "dealing with women in this fashion" after the footage was aired by Nine's A Current Affair

    - Dickson's resignation came at the same time as the deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack was saying a preference deal with One Nation "just makes sense"

    - The independent candidate in Curtin, Louise Stewart, has apologised for releasing fake polling data

    - Labor leader Bill Shorten won the first leaders' debate in Perth last night, but not everyone loved the format

    Hello again. I really hope you enjoyed watching Game of Thrones / MasterChef / the Taylor Swift video / having a healthy life offline because we're right back at it again with the election madness today. Strap in.

    Dave Hunt / AAPIMAGE

    Before 7am it was confirmed that One Nation Senate candidate Steve Dickson had resigned over footage of him in a US strip club.

    The footage from inside a club in Washington DC was aired by Nine's A Current Affair and showed Dickson making disparaging comments about women and groping a dancer.

    In the video, Dickson calls one of the dancers a "bitch" and in an exchange with another dancer asks the woman to "slide your hand on my ****".

    "I think white women f*** a whole lot better, they know what they're doing. Asian chicks don't," he was recorded saying. "I've done more Asian than I know what to do with."

    The footage was recorded during Al Jazeera's undercover investigation into One Nation's attempts to gain donations from America's National Rifle Association (NRA) and leaked to A Current Affair.

    However, Al Jazeera condemned the "unauthorised use of its material" and said it had not used the footage itself.

    Plot twist - Al Jazeera says the vision of Steve Dickson in the US strip club was broadcast by the Nine Network without its consent. Statement below @politicsabc @abcnews #ausvotes

    Dickson released a statement on Tuesday saying he sincerely apologised for his behaviour and that it did not reflect the person he is. "It shows a drunk person who was not in control of his actions."

    Nine

    “I am deeply remorseful for my disrespectful comments towards women. I found the footage difficult to watch and actions under intoxication and in that environment, are not a true reflection of myself," he said.

    He added that he would not be conducting any media interviews and asked for privacy “as I will no longer be of pubic [sic] interest”.

    One Nation's Steve Dickson resigns. His statement says "I found the footage difficult to watch....I am also deeply remorseful for my disrespectful comments towards women." #ausvotes #auspol

    Party leader Pauline Hanson staged an early morning press conference to confirm she had accepted Dickson's offer of resignation saying she would not condone her candidates "dealing with women in this fashion".

    "I wouldn't tolerate my own children behaving this way towards women. And I cannot, and will not, condone my own candidates dealing with women in this fashion either" Pauline Hanson has accepted Steve Dickson's resignation over the leaked strip club video https://t.co/ZJLZywayUx

    Dickson's resignation comes a month after Al Jazeera's investigation into One Nation's discussions with the NRA about watering down Australia's gun laws and conversations about potential donations.

    Strip club 🙅🏻‍♀️ Attempting to sell the nations parliament to the American gun lobby ✌️ #onenation

    Given last night's footage, it wasn't exactly the best timing for deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack to declare that a preference deal with One Nation "just makes sense". Expect BigMac to be asked about this quite a bit in the coming days.

    "Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says a preference "deal" between the Nationals and Pauline Hanson's One Nation "just makes sense" because the parties' policies closely align and it will help the Coalition win the election." #ausvotes https://t.co/beyZa4UUpX

    At the National Press Club on Tuesday afternoon, McMormack declared: "You have to do what it takes to get votes and to win at an election."

    The Hon @M_McCormackMP, Deputy Prime Minister & Leader of @The_Nationals, in the first of the #AusVotes19 leaders’ Addresses at the #NPC, live on @abc.

    "The fact is that the National Party policies, properly closer aligned with One Nation, than they ever were with the Greens or Labor. Fact of the matter," he said.

    "I appreciate that some members of One Nation have done some rather interesting things lately, and said some things that are quite unpalatable. I understand that. But we're not One Nation. We are the Nationals. We are in Coalition with the Liberal Party."

    Oh, talking of the Nationals, I regret to inform you that George Christensen released another music video.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    Elsewhere, Julia Banks had some problems with her how to vote cards, with The Australian reporting she failed to include who printed them.

    Liberal-turned-Independent Julia Banks has been forced to reprint her Flinders how-to-vote cards after failing to include printer authorisation - required under AEC rules #ausvotes https://t.co/Ie5oMLDn0b

    Louise Stewart, the independent candidate in Curtin (Liberal Julie Bishop's old seat), has apologised for releasing fake polling data that made its way onto the front page of the West Australian.

    Federal Election 2019: Liberal Party’s blue-ribbon seat of Curtin ‘hanging by thread’, according to new poll https://t.co/hPZ9lM9NZV

    It was revealed this week that the data, which suggested a large swing against the Liberals, was not conducted by RechTel as claimed — leading to questions over where the fake polling came from and who commissioned it.

    Speaking to 6PR radio Stewart said her campaign team sent the poll to the newspaper and she took "total responsibility".

    “The poll was provided to us by a third party, so clearly the poll should never have been sent to the West," she said.

    "Clearly we’ve made a mistake in doing that, so first of all I want to apologise for any confusion that has created — certainly there was never any intention to mislead or confuse anyone in the Curtin electorate. But clearly we trusted someone here that we shouldn’t have and we are taking the matter very seriously.”

    When she found out the poll was not correct, Stewart said she rang Alex Turnbull, the son of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

    Stewart said the poll came from an entity called Independents Inc, which she thought was linked to Turnbull, as he had been widely publicised as helping independent candidates in the federal election.

    She said Turnbull claimed to have no knowledge of the poll but was investigating where it came from. Stewart intimated the Liberal party may have been involved, but provided no evidence to back up the claim.

    Finance minister Mathias Cormann called any suggestion of a link between the data and the Liberals "completely insane".

    In terms of spending pledges today, Labor was talking up boosting solar power in schools and the government was promising millions for more CCTV cameras.

    The big news overnight was the first leaders' debate. Here's Bill Shorten calling Scott Morrison "digger" and sarcastically talking about the prime minister "spending his time in the motor pages". Totally normal stuff.

    "That's great, we've got a Prime Minister spending his time in the motor pages. That's super," @billshortenmp to @ScottMorrisonMP when quizzed on the price of electric cars. #LeadersDebate #7NEWS

    If you missed it, don't worry, some of us suffered through it for you and can report: There were no real new policy announcements; Bill Shorten was put on the spot over Labor costings again; and Scott Morrison was keen to ask the questions.

    Seven Network

    But really, what everyone watching was talking about was the weird format of the debate.

    Televisually, that was like being stuck in a tumble dryer with two faces taking turns of grinning or smirking out the glass door #ausvotes #LeadersDebate

    It's about choices #Leadersdebate #auspol

    Shorten comprehensively won the debate, in the studio audience's eyes at least.

    Leaders’ debate audience vote: Bill Shorten 25; Scott Morrison 12; undecided 11 #auspol #ausvotes19 @FinancialReview

    The body language experts saw it differently though.

    A measured and confident Scott Morrison upstaged Bill Shorten in the first debate of the 2019 election campaign, claims a leading body language expert. #9News https://t.co/9ybFnW2da5

    But really:

    Hearing the winner of the leaders debate was everyone who chose not to watch it.

    And don't worry, if you missed the debate — there's going to be another one on Sky News on Friday evening and the ABC is currently trying to get Shorten to accept another.

    Update: the ABC is still waiting on word from Bill Shorten re whether he accepts our debate proposal for prime time next week. Scott Morrison has agreed.

    Third debate update: the ALP has written to Lib HQ reiterating their preference for the National Press Club but are now willing to do it in prime time (have declined invite to debate in prime-time on @ABCTV )

    Elsewhere on TV last night (away from the dragons and cooking), Q&A was on and there were some sensible questions probing Labor's tax plans and changes to Super. This was shadow treasurer Chris Bowen's reply:

    Will a Labor Government "change the playing field" and "tax the daylights out of my retirement savings (super)"? #QandA

    And franking credits:

    How will Labor's changes to franking credits affect those who planned their retirement around the benefits? #QandA

    However, this being "The Bad Show", there was also this moment when The Australian's Greg Sheridan declared: "I'm not suggesting the Greens are terrorists. I'm suggesting they hate our society and are insane."

    Will the Coalition’s decision to give preferences to Clive Palmer backfire? #QandA

    But everything is fine because the prime minister likes Bob the Builder.

    Scott Morrison was asked about last night's leaders' debate only just beating re-runs of Bob the Builder: #auspol #ausvotes

    In other news — a lot of people are already voting. Over 120,000 votes were cast on Monday, showing that many people have clearly already made up their minds. Which makes the prospect of another three weeks of manic campaigning even more fun! See you all again tomorrow!

    A total of 122,771 votes were cast yesterday. This compares to 66,894 on the first day of early voting at the 2016 federal election. #ausvotes

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

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

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here