Malcolm Turnbull has offered Australian voters a rare glimpse into his private relationship with leader of the opposition Bill Shorten, revealing how often the pair text each other and the personal way he ends his messages to the Labor leader.
Speaking on Hit105 Breakfast, the prime minister said he and Shorten have to text each other to maintain a “practical relationship” but insisted it is always on a professional level. And when it comes to signing off, Turnbull doesn’t use kisses, or even a witty emoji, instead opting for a far more formal greeting.
He told presenters Stav, Abby and Matt: “Occasionally. We do talk from time to time. We have to have sort of a practical relationship, there are sometimes issues to discuss but I don’t think Bill has ever sent me an emoji actually or a GIF for that matter.”
And when asked how he signs off his texts to Shorten, with presenter Abby suggesting he puts “Love, Prime Minister”, Turnbull revealed he simply writes “regards”.
Turnbull’s comments came after Bill Shorten was asked similar questions on the Brisbane-based radio show, during which he admitted that the pollies do have each others number but “don’t text a lot”.
Asked which emoji he would choose to send to Turnbull, Shorten said: “I don’t know, the cheer up emoji, is there one like that? I like using GIFs. There’s a minion giphy for every event.”
Despite not being a fan of them himself, joking that he prefers to “concentrate on communicating in English” when texting, the PM revealed that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is the queen of emojis within Aussie politics.
He said: “Thumbs up I use a bit. But I’m not – the great doyen of emojis of course in politics is Julie Bishop. She can practically do a whole message in emojis. She’s an expert at it.”
Turnbull’s interview was aired ahead of Saturday’s by-elections, which saw Labor retain all four of their contested seats, despite speculation the opposition was set to lose a seat to the federal government at a by-election for the first time in 98 years.
The latest Newspoll results, published in The Australian on Monday, show that Turnbull is still the country’s preferred prime minister, with a 19-point lead over Opposition leader Bill Shorten, at 48-29 per cent respectively, but the Coalition still trails Labor 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.
This marks the 37th Newspoll in a row the Coalition has lost to Labor under Turnbull’s leadership, however it is also the highest personal approval rating for the prime minister since May 2016, before the last federal election.
Shorten has earned a negative personal approval rating in the last 70 Newspolls, but it didn’t seem to affect Labor’s campaign at the weekend’s by-elections, with the party holding onto their contested seats of Longman, Braddon, Perth and Fremantle over the weekend.