GRACosway Campaign Diary

29 April 2019

  • Today’s Newspoll shows Labor’s lead over the Coalition has narrowed by a point to 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.
  • Early voting centres are now open, with the first ballots being cast this morning.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will go head to head in the first election debate this evening in Perth.
  • Labor made significant funding announcements over the weekend, including a major childcare package and $2.4 billion for dental care.
  • The Coalition has announced extra funding for drought assistance, as well as a cap on Australia’s annual refugee intake.

 The election campaign has well and truly ramped up with early voting centres opening today and plenty of activity over the weekend. The latest Newspoll released this morning shows the race has tightened, with Labor’s lead over the Coalition narrowing by one point to 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has marginally narrowed the gap in the preferred PM measure, but continues to trail PM Scott Morrison 45 to 37 per cent. With the first votes cast today, observers can expect to see an increase in funding and policy announcements as we mark the half-way point of the campaign.  

Over the weekend Labor announced a $2.4 billion dental package as well as more than $4 billion in childcare subsidies and plans to increase the wages of early education workers. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described Labor’s childcare package as “the biggest saving for family budgets in a generation”. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed party faithful at a campaign rally in Western Sydney on Sunday, where he focused on immigration and announced a cap on the number of migrants coming to Australia as refugees. Mr Morrison also spent time in country NSW on Saturday, spruiking an additional $54.7 million in drought assistance.

Both leaders are in Perth today, ahead of the first leaders’ debate this evening. Preference deals continue to attract significant media attention, with how-to-vote cards being released today for early voting. Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) is at the centre of the debate, with Mr Palmer confirming today that the “United Australia Party’s number two recommendation to voters in the House of Representatives and in the Senate will go to the Liberal Party of Australia”.

Leaders focused on the economy, health and penalty rates over Easter and Anzac Day, while also promoting messages of family and faith. While the major parties agreed not to campaign on key public holidays, both leaders were out and about, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison visiting his local Southern Sydney church and attending Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his family attended a church service in Brisbane, while Labor also used the numerous public holidays as an opportunity to talk about penalty rates.     

Both political leaders condemned the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 250 people, including four Australian citizens or permanent residents. In his comments, the PM spoke of the “devastating nature” of the attacks, while Mr Shorten described a sense of “immense shock and sadness”. The PM visited a Darwin International Buddhist Temple where he participated in a memorial service and offered support to the local Sri Lankan community.

Barnaby Joyce was in the spotlight last week over a water buyback deal he approved during his time as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, which involved the $79 million purchase of water from two Queensland properties owned by Eastern Australia Agriculture. The parent company – Eastern Australia Irrigation – was domiciled in the Cayman Islands. Energy Minister Angus Taylor co-founded Eastern Australia Irrigation and directed it until he was elected to Parliament in 2013, however has stated he has no current involvement in the company and received no benefit from the deal. Labor announced it will hold a commission of inquiry into the deal if it is successful at the May 18 election.

The Adani Carmichael mine has remained in the headlines, with pressure mounting on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to review Environment Minister Melissa Price’s decision to sign off on the groundwater management plans for the mine if Labor wins the Federal election. Mr Shorten has not ruled out reviewing the groundwater approval, while saying Labor has “no plans” to retrospectively reverse the approval for the Adani mine.

During a visit to the NT, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced that Labor will replace the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) with the Northern Australian Development Fund. The new fund will provide a financing facility and work with Infrastructure Australia to identify and support projects of national economic significance. In addition, up to $1.5 billion will go towards the development of pipelines to unlock gas resources in the NT and Queensland.  

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