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“Eat when you can and sleep when you can.”
That was the advice a colleague passed on the day I joined the campaign bus dubbed the “Scomobile”.
For the next three weeks, I was part of the travelling media contingent, following the Prime Minister around the country and throwing questions at him every day.
Life on the trail is very far removed from normality. The days start early with bus rides and flights to mystery locations.
The leaders’ teams keep event and travel details close to their chests for security reasons, but also not wanting to give the other side any advantage.
On Scott Morrison’s side of the campaign, the pace is relentless. Usually he does three jobs a day and crosses at least one state border.
You rarely ever sleep two nights in the same hotel.
For one Channel Nine camera operator who has covered three election campaigns, this one has been the most stage-managed to date.
Events where Scott Morrison mixes with the public are few and far between. Usually the people he talks to have been invited by local candidates.
At one lolly shop in the Melbourne seat of Chisholm, a cameraman overheard the selected shoppers being told to “pretend to browse”, rather than look like they were waiting for the PM to arrive.
An advancing team is sent before events to scope out the venues and make sure the Prime Minister avoids walking past signs that read “danger”, because the cameras are on him at all times and those pictures are like gold for TV news.
One sign had to be hastily covered up with a high-vis vest at a business in Townsville, before the PM strolled by.
It read “If you mess up, fess up”.
Scott Morrison has made a habit of getting involved in whatever activity presents itself at events.
Whether it be kicking a footy around with kids, sipping a whiskey during an 8am distillery tour, or pressing a big green button to fire up a machine at a manufacturing plant.
These are the moments camera operators and photographers wait for, and trigger a flurry of shutters and flashes as they try to nail the shot.
The camaraderie between competing news crews is something special. A bond forged in cramped spaces, on long-haul flights and in attempts to get answers out of the two men who want the country’s top job.
Only two more weeks of chasing the leaders before the verdict of Australians is known.
When politicians facing the public gets ugly