GRACosway Political Week in Review
13 May 2016
Throughout the Federal Election campaign we will be adopting an extended format for the Weekly Wrap Up, but will continue to bring you coverage from around the states.
Federal Election Campaign Diary
Following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s official announcement on Sunday that a double dissolution election – only the seventh since federation – will be held on Saturday 2 July, the flag has been raised on what is sure to be an exhaustive eight week campaign; the second longest federal election campaign in the nation’s history.
In setting the narrative for the Coalition’s campaign, Prime Minister Turnbull said this election presents a very clear choice for voters between the Coalition’s plans for jobs and growth or Labor’s plan for higher taxes. In contrast, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten responded that the election will be a referendum on jobs, schools, a fairer tax system and keeping Medicare in public hands.
The Coalition appeared to meander out of the starting gates this week rather than run, perhaps showing early signs of its approach to an extended campaign. With the Coalition trailing Labor 49-51 in the two-party preferred vote according to the latest Newspoll published after the election was called, no major policy announcements were made by the Government this week. The Prime Minister however, visited key marginal seats in Queensland on Monday, before heading south the following day to the election battleground of Western Sydney. Amid media reports of division within Liberal Party ranks between Abbott loyalists and Turnbull supporters, the Prime Minister cancelled his Wednesday afternoon campaigning activities and deployed Deputy Leader Julie Bishop to Campbelltown on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Opposition made a slightly more aggressive start by launching their campaign with a commitment to reverse the Government’s cuts to Paid Parental Leave. Mr Shorten also made a highly publicised trip to Beaconsfield on Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of the safe release of Brant Webb and Todd Russell after the mine collapse, which claimed the life of Larry Knight. He then commenced a road trip across the eastern states, cutting a quick path from Cairns to Canberra then spending his birthday in Rockhampton on Thursday. While busy spruiking the Party’s election platform – 100 Positive Policies – the Opposition Leader continued to be hampered by the ill-discipline of candidates on the issue of offshore detention, an Achilles heel for the Labor Party.
Despite the Coalition’s best efforts to promote its plan for jobs and growth this week, superannuation continued to dominate much of the political agenda, with fallout from changes contained within the May 3 Budget. The Government also had a further setback in the latter half of the week after it was revealed Mr Turnbull is named in the Panama Papers which identify the Prime Minister as a former director of Star Technology Services Limited, a client of the embattled Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
The Prime Minister is campaigning in Adelaide on Friday, where he will commit to $43 million to extend the Tonsley Park rail link, while Mr Shorten is in Sydney focusing on education and teacher training. They will meet for the first time since the election was called later tonight when they go head to head in the Sky News People’s Forum.
Meanwhile, the High Court has dismissed a challenge to Senate voting reform brought by Senator Bob Day, ruling that voters are not disenfranchised by the new process, nor is there any infringement of the implied freedom of political communication or the system of representative government. Read more in The Australian here.
With 50 days left to go, the punters have the Government odds on favourites, with CrownBet placing the Coalition at $1.33 for the win while Labor is paying $3.25.
Highlights of the Week
- The High Court dismissed a challenge to Senate Voting Reform brought forward by Senator Bob Day, allowing voting to continue as planned.
- Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten will face off against each other tonight in the first debate of the campaign in the Sky News People’s Forum, live on Sky News at 7pm.
- Malcolm Turnbull was stopped by single mother Melinda in Moorabbin outside Melbourne, on Thursday, who attacked the Prime Minister for the removal of the School Kids Bonus and changes to family tax benefits, reported in the SHM here (subscription service).
- In a statement to the media, Federal Liberal Director Tony Nutt confirmed no decision has been made regarding a preference deal with the Greens in key marginal seats.
- Bill Shorten celebrated his 49th birthday on Thursday with a visit to Rockhampton.
- Treasurer Scott Morrison celebrated his 48th birthday on Friday whilst campaigning in Melbourne.
- Labor announced its Paid Parental Leave policy on Sunday, which claims that 80,000 families with new babies will be as much as $11,800 better off under the policy.
- Labor also announced more detail on its education policy – Your Child. Our Future – promising to invest an additional $1.8 billion in regional and country schools, see here, and $400 million for teaching scholarships to encourage graduates with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees to become STEM teachers, see here.
- Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen delivered his post-Budget address at the National Press Club on Tuesday.