“Eat when you can and sleep when you can.”
This is the advice a colleague gave me the day I joined the campaign bus called “Scomobile”.
For the next three weeks, I was part of the traveling media contingent, following the prime minister around the country and asking him questions every day.
Life on the track is far from normal. Days start early with bus rides and flights to mysterious locations.
Leader teams keep event and travel details close to their chests for security reasons, but also to not give an advantage to the other side.
On the Scott Morrison campaign side, the pace is relentless. Usually he does three jobs a day and crosses at least one state border.
You rarely sleep two nights in the same hotel.
For a Channel Nine cameraman who has covered three election campaigns, this was the most staged to date.
Events where Scott Morrison mixes with the public are rare. Usually the people he is addressing have been invited by local candidates.
At a lollipop shop in Melbourne’s Chisholm headquarters, a cameraman overheard selected shoppers being told to ‘pretend to browse’, rather than appear to be waiting for the Prime Minister to arrive.
An advance team is sent ahead of events to cordon off the scene and ensure the Prime Minister avoids walking past signs that say ‘danger’ as the cameras are on him at all times and these images are like gold to television news.
A sign had to be hastily covered with a high visibility vest at a business in Townsville, before the Prime Minister passed by.
He said “If you’re wrong, fess up”.
Scott Morrison has made a habit of getting involved in all the activity that comes up at events.
Whether it’s playing soccer with the kids, sipping whiskey on an 8 a.m. distillery tour, or pressing a big green button to turn on a machine in a manufacturing plant.
These are the moments cameramen and photographers have been waiting for, and unleashing a flurry of shutters and flashes as they try to nail the shot.
The camaraderie between the competing news teams is something special. A bond forged in cramped quarters, on long-haul flights and in attempts to get answers from the two men who want the top job in the land.
Two more weeks of leadership hunting before the Australians’ verdict is known.
When politicians facing the public become ugly