ACT election 2020: Barr and Coe’s food fight all about one thing – credibility | The Canberra Times

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This is what it has come to. Ten days out from the ACT election, in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis and just hours on from the handing down of a history-making federal budget, the leaders of the territory’s two major parties are having a food fight. Not a physical one, thankfully, but an exchange of taunts about baked goods. What Alistair Coe is offering to voters is a “magic pudding”, according to Chief Minister Andrew Barr. The Labor’s leaders promises are, according to Mr Coe, “half-baked”. Not known for his political stunts, the Canberra Liberals leader dropped by a Wanniassa bakery on Wednesday to spruik his plans to grow the territory’s revenue pie while he literally baked an apple-flavoured one. Labor quickly threw together a social media video attacking chef Coe, highlighting the size of the pastry he would need to bake in order to feed the government coffers he’d starve in order to pay for the Liberals’ expensive promises. The advertisement isn’t, of course, about Mr Coe’s cooking. It is about his, and his party’s, credibility. In the absence of a single major issue – such as light rail – it is the vague and intangible notion of credibility that has emerged as the theme shaping the ACT’s pandemic election. In the most uncertain period in Canberra’s history, voters are weighing up which of the two parties is the most credible, which of the political narrative’s read true, and which is mere fairytale. On this now very crucial point, Labor considers itself clearly ahead, a result of its own actions – particularly in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic – and what its see as the illegitimacy of Mr Coe’s “grow the pie” theory. Within minutes of last week’s leaders’ debate wrapping up, Labor launched a blitz of ads featuring a glum-looking Coe with an L-plate hanging around his neck. In the eyes of Barr and Labor’s campaign strategists, incumbency equals credibility. Runs on the board. A proven track record. But where Labor sees its past as strengthening and reinforcing its credibility, the Liberals believe it has eroded it. How can Labor speak with any credibility about the Canberra Hospital expansion, a project it announced in 2016 but will not be able to deliver until 2024? In the Liberals’ view, how can Labor speak with any credibility about building quality, given the litany of failures that have occurred under its watch? Or on the performance of public hospitals, or government school results? Credibility is hard won. Labor thinks it has it. The Liberals think their opponents lost it years ago. Who voters believe might decide whether Mr Barr or Mr Coe is victorious next Saturday night.

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