From sun-soaked Gold Coast beaches to farm-fresh strawberry ice cream, Scott Morrison’s Sunshine State bus tour got underway with him declaring “it’s about all of Queensland”.
As social media ripped into the prime minister’s big, blue bus on Monday – rebranding pictures of it with new logos and different photos – Mr Morrison began his planned charm offensive of the state that will be critical at the next election.
First stop was the Gold Coast, where he ditched the bus to have a look at one of the city’s trams alongside local MPs.
He had a beachside BBQ with seniors at the Kurrawa Surf Club before hitting the sand in a hat given to him by the mother of surfing champion Mick Fanning.
Unhappy that Mr Morrison’s previous cap of choice in several press conferences was from US brand Hurley, Fanning got his mum to provide the PM with a cap from Aussie surfwear brand, Rip Curl.
In a somewhat awkward social media video that followed, Mr Morrison thanked Fanning and his mum before climbing back on his bus to head to Chambers Flat, south of Brisbane, to visit a strawberry farm.
The cap proved to be more than a prop as Mr Morrison inspected crops in blazing 30-plus degree sunshine.
Between strawberry picking and an ice cream, Mr Morrison got to work as well, joining local member for Forde, Bert Van Manen, to announce a range of visa changes aimed at helping farmers fill critical labour shortages.
The prime minister took umbrage at suggestions he was starting his election campaign early, despite Forde being one of several key marginal seats the Liberals are desperate to win in next year’s vote.
“This is me doing what I do, and I’m out, I’m listening, I’m hearing and I’m doing,” Mr Morrison said.
“It’s about all of Queensland. I’m here to send a message to Queensland – that I back Queensland.”
Mr Van Manen rubbished suggestions the bus tour was a Queensland vote grab, citing multiple occasions when Mr Morrison had been in the state in his previous roles as immigration minister and treasurer.
“I’ve just got a bigger bus this time, the wheels are a bit different this time,” Mr Morrison said.
The prime minister is heading north next, with visits planned to Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Mackay, taking in the marginal seats of Capricornia, Flynn and Dawson.