For some time now, there has been extensive debate over Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “character”, triggered by less-than-flattering reviews from several sources, including French President Emmanuel Macron and even some members of Morrison’s own party. And now, writes Michelle Grattan, he has failed another character test, and in an election campaign.

By failing to act swiftly in response to offensive and transphobic social media posts by the Liberal candidate for Warringah, Katherine Deves, Morrison has not only hamstrung the party’s chances in what was once a blue-ribbon seat for the Liberals, but also potentially allowed the controversy to infect nearby seats where sitting Liberal MPs are being challenged by teal independents.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, meanwhile, is battling an infection of his own, announcing last night that he will isolate for a week after testing positive to COVID. It’s a significant spanner in the works of Labor’s campaign, and a reminder the election is happening against the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic.

Regarding the independents, there is a growing feeling they may snaffle a seat or two - possibly even more - on May 21. So if this election results in a hung parliament, with neither side winning a clear majority, those independents will suddenly become very powerful. While some voters may worry a hung parliament will end in chaos and legislative inertia, Frank Bongiorno and David Lee argue it may in fact be the best possible outcome. On two occasions when Australia has had a hung parliament - once during the second world war and again under the Gillard government - it has worked effectively, and any ructions within the government have come not from dealing with independents, but from turmoil within the governing party.

Amanda Dunn

Section Editor: Politics + Society

Grattan on Friday: Scott Morrison fails the ‘character’ test posed by his Warringah candidate

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

here has been a great deal of debate about Scott Morrison’s “character”. Now, in the controversy over Liberal candidate Katherine Deves, we have seen the prime minister fail a significant character test

Anthony Albanese confined to home for seven days after testing COVID positive

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Labor’s worst fears have materialised with Anthony Albanese testing positive for COVID.

Could the 2022 election result in a hung parliament? History shows Australians have nothing to fear from it

Frank Bongiorno, Australian National University; David Lee, UNSW Sydney

Since the advent of the two-party preferred system, there have been two examples of parties governing effectively in minority, and with the support of independents.

Albanese has dropped Labor’s pledge to boost Jobseeker. With unemployment low, is that actually fair enough?

Peter Whiteford, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University; Bruce Bradbury, UNSW Sydney

Even with the latest small increase, JobSeeker remains low by overseas standards – and, on one measure, it’s the lowest in the OECD.

Why an edit button for Twitter is not as simple as it seems

Lewis Mitchell, University of Adelaide

Twitter is developing an ‘edit button’ that allows users to change tweets after they’ve been sent - but making it work won’t be easy

How to preserve our privacy in an AI-enabled world of smart fridges and fitbits? Here are my simple fixes

Toby Walsh, UNSW Sydney

We are connecting ourselves, our homes and our workplaces to lots of internet-enabled devices: smartwatches, smart lightbulbs, toasters, fridges … How to keep all their data private?

Two-up, Gallipoli and the ‘fair go’: why illegal gambling is at the heart of the Anzac myth

Bruce Moore, Australian National University

Two-up used to be illegal - playing it now helps us remember the spirit of larrikinism and anti-authoritarianism central to the Anzac myth.

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