THE combination of Scott Morrison and a cricket crowd has given Labor a warning that the Prime Minister will not be an election campaign pushover.
And it revealed a ScoMo many voters not know — but could become familiar with.
The scene was the Prime Minister’s XI match, Australia Vs South Africa, at Canberra’s Manuka Oval on Wednesday evening.
Traditionally, prime ministers are boo-ed at sporting matches but the crowd, admittedly small, playfully took to Mr Morrison, as recorded by News Corp photographer Kym Smith.
The Prime Minister had completed some on-field media duties and was walking back up to the Bradman Stand where he was scheduled to give a speech.
On the way, a spectator gave him a sachet of chicken salt usually put on a bucket of chips. He took it and quickly became engaged with a group.
Mr Morrison apologised, particularly to a little girl, but said he couldn’t linger as he had a commitment to meet. He said he would return.
And he did, still with the chicken salt in his hand. In the hand not carrying the salt was a three-quarter full cup of beer.
“Can you do a Hawkie and scul it?” asked one of the group of men. And he did, putting the empty cup on his head, a traditionalist to the last drop.
Former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke was a serial sculler, and Scott Morrison was today accused on social media of pinching the trademark.
Excited Aussies hug Scott Morrison at Manuka Oval in Canberra. Picture: Kym SmithSource:News Corp Australia
ScoMo doing a Hawkie: ‘Scul! Scul! Scul!!’ Pictures: Kym SmithSource:Supplied
A swiftly downed beer does not guarantee a brilliant election campaign.
But the cricket ground moment, and those following, did establish that Mr Morrison can mix it with voters in a way his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull could not, and in a manner Labor leader Bill Shorten doesn’t.
A professional marketing strategist, Scott Morrison has — since his takeover in August — played a deliberate role as a man of the people, a pie-and-beer football fan on the hill who wears a baseball cap.
The Manuka engagement with genuine fans was a test of the marketing image, and of the Prime Minister.
And those there seemed to like him, to an extent beyond the normal celebrity status attached to prime ministers.
He asked the group if they were having a good time and praised the Australian side, the eventual winners.
He mingled with some of the pumped-up folk and signed autographs to a background chant of “ScoMo, ScoMo”.
He went back to the little girl and apologised for not stopping to chat on their initial encounter.
There were more selfies including some with local police. Then he returned to the stand to watch the match.
Later, during the winners’ presentation, a group of about 15 men in Hawaiian shirts took up the ScoMo chant, and he couldn’t resist saluting them. After the ceremony he went over to the barrackers.
The chicken salt was still in his suit jacket pocket.
Mr Morrison high-fived the group and they pulled him in for some vigorous hugging and cheering. He approved it all with a double-handed thumbs up.
ScoMo, a man of the people. Picture Kym SmithSource:News Corp Australia
‘Come here maaayte … selfie!!’ Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
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