A Liberal candidate’s bid to gatecrash one of Bill Shorten’s campaign events has backfired spectacularly with a car-crash media interview, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Chris Jermyn found himself unable to articulate the Coalition’s health policies before declaring his hatred for journalists and beating a hasty retreat.
The Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of McEwen showed up at Mr Shorten’s event at the Sunbury Community Health Centre on Saturday. Mr Shorten shook his hand on his way in, joking that at least he was getting to see one leader this election.
A News Corp journalist asked him about his views on health policy, particularly whether he supported lifting the freeze on the Medicare rebate for doctors. But pressed repeatedly for his views, Mr Jermyn could not answer the questions.
“Look, clearly my position is that of the federal government,” he said. “The government’s policy is very clear. Nonetheless I think we’ve got the leader arriving now so I’d like to have a listen to what he’s got to say.”
The Opposition Leader, campaigning alongside his MP Rob Mitchell who holds the marginal rural seat with just an 0.2 per cent margin, later made light of the gaffe.
“I understand he was questioned about what is the Liberal healthcare policy and to be fair to this poor fellow he said he didn’t know,” Mr Shorten said. “The healthcare policy if Turnbull is re-elected will mean that 14.5 million Australians will pay more to go to see the doctor.”
Mr Jermyn left before the press conference was over, leaving his supporter Bruce Lancashire behind to answer questions. Bizarrely, he gave a quasi-press conference of his own before telling the media they could find Mr Jermyn at a nearby square.
The media caught up with him but he refused to answer any questions. “This is why I hate journalists,” he said before driving away. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attempted to shrug off the meltdown.
“I know you enjoy taxing our candidates with these questions. Our position on all of these policy issues is very clear,” he said. Mr Jermyn has been in trouble in his local newspaper in recent weeks for allegedly repeatedly flouting parking laws.