LNP leader’s Noosa Farmers Market visit rekindles divisive potato cake name debate

LNP leader’s Noosa Farmers Market visit rekindles divisive potato cake name debate
  • PublishedJanuary 25, 2024

It started as a simple social media post from a high-profile politician who had been enjoying a snack at a popular farmers market.

But Queensland LNP leader David Crisafulli said he soon found himself under “intense pressure” and a “barrage of criticism” for using a term that has divided the nation for years.

Queenslanders typically refer to a fried slice of potato as a scallop.

South Australians will argue it’s a fritter, while Victorians tend to call it a potato cake — hence the backlash over Mr Crisafulli’s post on Sunday where he used the southern term.

The replies were swift and scathing.

“Are you Victorian? Amateur error,” one person wrote.

One commenter accused the politician of trying to woo “expat [Liberal Party] voters from Victoria”.

“Shows how much you support your local fish shop,” another wrote.

When grilled by reporters over the post a few days later, the Queensland-born Mr Crisafulli insisted he was only referring to the food as cakes because the seller did.

“This wonderful stall run by a local woman … she called them potato cakes on the board,” he said.

“I will never tell a small business owner how to run their business.

“I dutifully gave her the promotion that she deserved — much to the dismay of my wife, the mayor, and all of my mates who’ve texted me to tell me clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Food and politics

It is not the first time a food item has stirred the pot in Australian politics — on both sides.

Few could forget former prime minister Tony Abbott biting into an unpeeled and uncooked onion during a visit to a Tasmanian farm in 2015.

Tony abbot biting into an onion
Tony Abbott eats a raw onion on a tour of Tasmanian onion farm in 2015.(ABC News)

A year later, then-Labor Leader Bill Shorten also went viral for biting into a sausage on bread from the side during the federal election campaign.

Political analyst Paul Williams from Griffith University said politicians needed to be mindful of their actions in public to ensure they appear “ordinary”.

He said they also needed to choose their words wisely.

“The wrong word, the wrong phrase, can be very debilitating,” Dr Williams said.

“Particularly among those we might call ‘low information voters’ who are not wedded to a political party.

“They often vote on the strength of what the leader looks and sounds like. Australians generally want their politicians to be ordinary.”

He doubted, however, that the great potato cake debate of 2024 would severely dent the LNP’s chances in the October state election.

“Most Queenslanders are wedded to one of the major parties. They’re more concerned about crime and the cost of living,” Dr Williams said.


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