GRACosway Campaign Diary

17 May 2019


  • Former prime minister and Labor luminary Bob Hawke died yesterday, just two days before the election.
  • Election day is tomorrow, with polling booths open from 8am until 6pm.
  • As of this morning, more than four million Australians have already voted, compared with 2.55 million at the same time in 2016.
  • Betting agencies are paying between $1.12 and $1.16 for a Labor victory while the Coalition’s odds are between $5.50 and $7.
  • Labor maintains its lead on a two-party preferred basis in the latest polls, while seat-by-seat polling released yesterday offers further insight into some key contests.
  • The radio and television advertising blackout began on Thursday morning, resulting in an increase in online advertising.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that two Rwandan men accused of murdering tourists in Uganda in 1999 have settled in Australia as part of a refugee swap with the US.

Campaign diary

Former prime minister and Australian political giant Bob Hawke died on Thursday aged 89, eclipsing the final moments of the election campaign as both sides of politics pause to reflect on Mr Hawke’s legacy of social and economic reform. Often described as a larrikin, Mr Hawke was Australia’s 23rd PM, serving from 1983 to 1991 and leading Labor to victory at four consecutive elections.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described Mr Hawke as the labour movement’s “greatest son” who “gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison reflected on Mr Hawke’s ability to speak to all Australians, while describing him as a “conviction politician who became a political legend”. Mr Hawke’s final public statement was an open letter endorsing Bill Shorten, released on Wednesday. Commentators suggest Mr Hawke’s death will transform the final day of the election campaign, with media coverage of the Hawke Government’s achievements expected to neutralise Coalition claims that Labor cannot be trusted with the economy.

More than four million Australians have already cast their vote ahead of tomorrow’s election, suggesting the electorate is well and truly ready for the campaign to be over. Labor continues its lead in the polls, with the latest Ipsos and YouGov/Galaxy polling mirroring Monday’s Newspoll with a two-party preferred vote of 51-49 in favour of Labor. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has warned that the significant number of early votes could mean a slower-than-usual release of results tomorrow night, while both major parties have indicated they will look to review early voting after the election.

Both sides were on the attack in the final week of the campaign, with Labor sharpening its criticism of the “chaotic” Coalition and Prime Minister Scott Morrison seeking to drive home the message that Labor cannot be trusted on the economy. The PM made his final pitch to voters at the National Press Club in Canberra, while Mr Shorten chose Bowman Hall in Blacktown – the venue made famous by Gough Whitlam’s “It’s Time” speech in 1972 – for his last major speech of the campaign.

During the Coalition campaign launch in Melbourne on Sunday, Mr Morrison announced a new First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, the final major policy announcement of the campaign, to help first home buyers enter the property market without having to save a full 20 per cent deposit or pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance. Under the policy, first home buyers will be able to purchase their first home with a deposit of 5 per cent. Labor quickly announced it will match the policy, effectively neutralising any point of difference for the Coalition.

Both parties also made major infrastructure announcements in Victoria at the weekend, reinforcing how important Victoria is to the election outcome. Labor announced $10 billion towards the Melbourne suburban rail loop, while the Coalition has committed $4 billion for the East West Link road project.

There has been a late outbreak of disunity within Coalition ranks in NSW after Liberal MPs were spotted encouraging voters to vote below-the-line for Liberal Senator Jim Molan, in the “unwinnable” fourth spot on the Senate ticket, instead of following the Liberal Party’s how-to-vote card in support of the NSW Nationals candidate Perin Davey.

Seats to watch

It is likely that the 2019 election will be remembered as one where traditionally safe ‘blue ribbon’ Liberal seats have faced serious challenges, sometimes for the first time ever. This is most evident in Victoria where the retirement of Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has left the seat of Higgins under genuine threat for the Liberal Party for the first time. Other interesting contests include Corangamite, Dunkley, Macnamara, Chisholm and Deakin.

In NSW, eyes will be fixed on Warringah, where prominent independent Zali Steggall has mounted a serious challenge against former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Other noteworthy contests in NSW include Robertson, Gilmore, Lindsay, and the home of another former Prime Minister, Wentworth, where independent Kerryn Phelps will once again go head-to-head with Liberal Dave Sharma in a rerun of October’s by-election.

Meanwhile, Labor is well-placed to make gains in the west, where the seats of Stirling, Hasluck, Swan and Pearce are worth watching. The traditional swing states of Queensland and Tasmania will likely reveal the national mood, and of note are the seats of Dickson, Herbert, Capricornia and Longman in the Sunshine State as well as Bass and Braddon in Tasmania.

Please refer to the ABC Votes site for detailed analysis.

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