GRACosway Political Week in Review

1 July 2016
Federal Election Campaign Diary

As we head toward the end of day 54 in what has been a marathon federal election campaign, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have both delivered their final pitches to voters as Australians prepare to head to the polls tomorrow morning. With Monday’s Newspoll showing the Coalition has a slight edge over Labor for the first time during the election campaign, 51 to 49 per cent on a two-party preferred (2PP) basis, the Prime Minister spent the final week of the election campaign promoting the Coalition’s economic credentials and assuring voters the Government’s economic plan will provide the necessary stability to withstand volatility in the global markets. Mr Shorten’s agenda remained focused on spruiking Labor’s healthcare and education policies.

The United Kingdom’s shock decision to leave the European Union last week placed the economy front and centre of the Federal Election campaign. Prime Minister Turnbull told reporters the Australian economy remains “strong and resilient” and said there was “no cause for Australians to be alarmed” by the developments, while calling on voters to back a “stable majority Coalition Government” to deliver economic leadership in uncertain times. In his National Press Club address on Tuesday, Bill Shorten linked Brexit to inequality and argued the decision was brought about by “the same sort of policies Malcolm Turnbull offers at this election”. In strengthening Mr Shorten’s argument, Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek pointed to Labor’s record of protecting jobs during the global financial crisis and said the Coalition did not deal well with global volatility.

The Liberal Party held its official campaign launch on Sunday in the marginal western Sydney seat of Reid, where Prime Minister Turnbull announced modest spending commitments for education, mental health and gun control measures. Mr Turnbull called on Australians to “carefully consider” their vote and back the Coalition to ensure a “stable majority government”, strong economic leadership, secure borders and funding for health and education. Meanwhile, Labor held a Medicare rally in Brisbane to coincide with the Liberals’ campaign launch, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten telling supporters the ALP could win the election on the back of its Save Medicare campaign and highlighting the example of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s narrow win over the LNP last year.

Following the rally, Labor released its policy costings, which revealed a $16.5 billion increase to the Budget deficit over four years and new savings measures, such as the removal of the private health insurance rebate on policies that only cover public hospital treatment. Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said Labor will return the Budget to balance in 2020-21, while also adding an extra $10.5 billion to the Budget bottom line over 10 years. In response, Treasurer Scott Morrison released the Coalition’s costings on Tuesday, which feature an extra $2.3 billion in savings and a $1.1 billion net improvement to the Budget bottom line since the Pre-Election Fiscal and Economic Outlook. Mr Morrison said the savings will largely be achieved through a crackdown on welfare fraud, while also pointing to the Government’s record of saving more than it had spent during this election campaign.

Prime Minister Turnbull addressed the National Press Club on Thursday, once again emphasising the Coalition’s record of strong economic management and speaking about the importance of political stability against a backdrop of global uncertainty. Mr Turnbull also said Australians expect a “step up in political culture” at the election, including “resolute leadership” with a “focus on what unites rather than divides”. The Prime Minister fielded questions on topics such as same sex marriage, Sunday penalty rates and the South China Sea, while telling the audience a Coalition victory was “critically important” for future generations.

On the eve of the election, an Ipsos poll has placed the Coalition and Labor at 50-50 on a 2PP basis, while a Galaxy poll has the Government leading the Opposition 51 to 49 (2PP). The punters, however, are backing the Coalition, with CrownBet offering $1.12 for a returned Coalition Government and $6.50 for a Labor victory.

GRACosway will provide a post-election newsletter on Sunday, with an overview of the election outcome.

Highlights of the Week

  • The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has hired 75,000 staff to run tomorrow’s election, which requires 140km of string to secure 100,000 pencils to 120,000 voting booths in more than 7,000 polling places where 45 million ballot papers will be placed in 60,000 ballot boxes.
  • Reports suggest a record 4.5 million Australians are expected to vote prior to tomorrow’s election, with the AEC already in receipt of 3 million votes as at the middle of this week, including 885,000 postal votes.
  • Labor referred retiring Liberal National MP for Brisbane Teresa Gambaro to the Australian Federal Police over allegations she ignored departmental advice when selecting her electorate office building, which is owned by LNP donor Stephen Pellagrino.
  • The Greens held their official campaign launch in Melbourne on Sunday, where Party Leader Richard Di Natale told supporters the Greens had “never been in better shape” and paid tribute to the work of his predecessors Christine Milne and Bob Brown.
  • Liberal Party members in Julie Bishop’s WA seat of Curtin have passed a motion condemning the Federal Government’s proposed superannuation changes, ensuring the issue will be debated at the Party’s state conference in August.
  • The election campaign advertising blackout commenced at midnight on Wednesday, following friction in the NSW seat of New England where Independent candidate Tony Windsor accused incumbent MP Barnaby Joyce of implying he had been unfaithful to his wife in a television advertisement.
  • Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator Ricky Muir told the Victorian Rural Press Club he will continue to seek election at all levels of government and plans to return to politics “one way or another” if he is unsuccessful in tomorrow’s poll.
  • Victorian Senate candidate Derryn Hinch revealed he has never participated in an election because he opposes compulsory voting and believes that commentators should not vote – but intends to cast his first ballot tomorrow, putting himself number 1.
  • Prime Minister Turnbull conceded the Government could have handled its tax reform process “somewhat differently” in an episode of the ABC’s Kitchen Cabinet, and said he “got a lot of flak” for leaving all tax reform options “on the table”.

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