Sex appeal has become an electoral asset for the coalition according to Tony Abbott.
On his first trip to the key marginal seat of Lindsay in western Sydney, the Opposition Leader was asked how Liberal candidate Fiona Scott compared with her coalition predecessor Jackie Kelly.
“They’re young, they’re feisty and, I think I can probably say, have a bit of sex appeal,” Mr Abbott told reporters.
Ms Scott laughed uncomfortably and took it in her stride, but the comment predictably caused a stir on twitter.
Among dozens of comments, activist group GetUp tweeted “The 1950s called, and even they don’t want this kind of sexism back”.
Labor, however, steered clear of it.
“I think I will raise my bat and let that go through to the keeper,” deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese responded when asked about Mr Abbott’s comment.
Lindsay switched hands in 2007 to Labor’s David Bradbury, who holds it with just a 1.1 per cent margin.
While he was campaigning side by side with Ms Scott, Mr Abbott appeared keen to keep his distance from the candidate for the nearby seat of Greenway, Jaymes Diaz, who made headlines around the world for forgetting the six points he said constituted the coalition’s plan to stop boats.
Mr Diaz joined other Liberal candidates for the region at a rowdy campaign rally launching the “Tony Abbott western Sydney” bus – a big blue bus with Mr Abbott’s head printed three metres high on the side.
But somehow he didn’t quite fit on the small stage beside Mr Abbott, Ms Scott, two sitting Liberal MPs and four other candidates.
There was distinctly less cheering from the blue-clad crowd when Mr Abbott introduced “Jamie Diaz, a professional from western Sydney” compared to the cheers for other candidates.
After the speeches, Mr Diaz scurried into a waiting car while reporters lobbed questions at him about the six-point plan.
He was just interested in campaigning, he said.
From the bus launch it was a quick hop over the road to catch up with Penrith Panthers players to discuss ball-handling skills.
Between tossing a footy around and catching some kicks Mr Abbott promised $12 million for the Panthers’ sport and community centre, matching the same pledge made by Labor’s sitting member David Bradbury in June.
He also pledged on Tuesday $100 million to help fix mobile phone black spots in regional Australia.
The problem with reception issues was nicely illustrated by Mr Abbott’s inability to phone West Australian MP Don Randall to chide him for having suggested the coalition might not keep all its election promises.
“I’ve been trying to call Mr Randall but there’s no mobile phone reception out here,” he told reporters at the Colo Heights RFS station in the Wollemi National Park.
But the leader was sure Mr Randall knew what he had said was wrong. – AAP