Issue 5: Federal Election Campaign Diary
13 May 2022
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- Monday’s Newspoll data showed a one-point increase in Labor’s lead over the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis, 54-46.
- 2.1 million people have already cast their votes for the Federal Election, after early voting opened on Monday.
- 1.3 million votes have been cast at pre-poll centres and over 880,000 postal votes have been returned to the Australian Electoral Commission as of 10pm AEST yesterday.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a significant admission earlier today, revealing he needs to “change” if he is re-elected Prime Minister, and acknowledging that he “can be a bit of a bulldozer”. In response, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said if people want change, they should “change the government”.
- Mr Morrison confirmed he will welcome former Education Minister Alan Tudge back into Cabinet if the Coalition is re-elected. Mr Tudge also indicated his willingness to return to the frontbench, after he was stood aside from the ministry in December 2021.
- NT Chief Minister and Treasurer Michael Gunner handed down[PDF] the 2022-23 Territory Budget on Tuesday, revealing a net debt of $8.71 billion. Following this, he announced his resignation from Parliament, citing his intention to spend more time with family. Minister for Health Natasha Fyles has this morning been confirmed as Mr Gunner’s replacement as Chief Minister.
- WA Premier and Treasurer Mark McGowan delivered the 2022-23 State Budget on Thursday, revealing a $1.6 billion surplus forecast in 2022-23.
The campaign trail
Prime Minister Scott Morrison spent time in Perth and Melbourne over the weekend, before travelling across NSW. Today he is in Melbourne in the seat of Chisholm, where he has announced $300 million to create advanced manufacturing jobs.
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese is in Queensland today, where he has announced Labor’s plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Earlier this week, Mr Albanese was in Tasmania and has since spent time in both Adelaide and Melbourne, where he made announcements with the state’s respective Labor premiers.
Second leaders’ debate voted a draw, final debate awarded to Albanese
The third and final leaders’ debate of the campaign was held on Wednesday night, with the second debate held three days prior on Sunday 8 May. Hosted on Channel Nine, the second debate saw Prime Minister Morrison and Mr Albanese discuss topics including cost-of-living pressures, foreign affairs, corruption, and climate change. Some commentators described the debate as a “yelling match” and “messy”. The result of the debate was ultimately unclear, with Channel Nine’s viewer poll changing from an original 52 per cent for Prime Minister Morrison, to 51 per cent for Mr Albanese, and then an ultimate 50-50 split settled on.
Broadcast on Channel Seven, the final leaders’ debate on Wednesday night resulted in a vote for a clear winner. 50 per cent of viewers awarded the debate to Mr Albanese, while 34 per cent voted Mr Morrison, and 16 per cent remained undecided. Similar to the second debate, corruption, foreign affairs and climate change were the key topics, with a particular focus on cost-of-living and wage increases. In line with each leader’s ongoing pitch for election, Mr Morrison again warned voters to avoid the “risk” of a Labor Government, while Mr Albanese urged Australians to vote for “a better future”.
Spotlight on potential wage increases
Both leaders have faced questions this week over a potential increase to wages after Mr Albanese indicated he would “absolutely” support an increase to wages of 5.1 per cent, in line with inflation. The Opposition Leader stated his belief that “the minimum wage should at least keep up with the cost of living”. In response, Mr Morrison labelled these comments as “incredibly reckless” and accused Mr Albanese of being “a loose unit on the economy”. He suggested that such a proposal would lead to further inflation and “force small businesses potentially out of business altogether”.
During the third leaders’ debate on Wednesday, Mr Albanese reinforced his view that the minimum wage should increase in line with inflation, while Mr Morrison reiterated his concerns about the effects this may have on small businesses. Mr Albanese has since been questioned about whether an elected Labor Government would submit a proposal for a 5.1 per cent increase in the minimum wage to the Fair Work Commission (FWC). He has emphasised the independence of the FWC, stating that if the Commission “makes a decision to not cut real wages and to keep up with the cost of living, that is something that I would welcome”.
Poll predicts 80-seat win for Labor
A new YouGov poll released by The Australian has dominated recent headlines, suggesting that Labor could win 80 seats at the election, with the Coalition set to win 63 seats. According to the poll, one Greens MP will be re-elected alongside seven independents. If this polling eventuates on election day, it would see Labor pick up an additional 12 seats, while the Coalition would lose at least 11 and pick up none.
The poll, based on a sample size of nearly 19,000 voters, suggests that the Liberal Party is in a position to lose two seats to Independent candidates backed by Climate 200. According to the poll, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will lose his seat of Kooyong in Victoria to Independent candidate Dr Monique Ryan on a two-party preferred basis of 53-47, while Victorian Liberal MP Tim Wilson will also lose his seat of Goldstein to Independent Zoe Daniels, 52-48. When asked if he believes he can retain his seat in spite of what the polls suggest, Mr Frydenberg commented that he felt “encouraged” by the response he has received from constituents at pre-polling, and criticised his competitor for being a “so-called independent” with former ties to the Labor Party. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he will not be “speculating” on the result of Kooyong as he is confident “Josh will be returned”.
Sino-Australian tensions ongoing
National security has remained a key topic of debate, with a particular focus on the impacts of China’s security deal with the Solomon Islands. During a National Press Club address earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce stated that China’s military expansion “is the biggest issue before us without a shadow of a doubt”. He expressed concern that China is “starting a process of encircling Australia”, and announced that a re-elected Coalition Government will expand Australia’s merchant fleet in order to maintain regional sovereignty. Elsewhere, Minister for Defence Peter Dutton labelled Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s intention to lead a Chinese Government delegation on a tour of the Pacific, including the Solomon Islands, as “obviously provocative”.
Elsewhere, China’s ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian stated that China’s pact with the Solomon Islands “should not be seen as a threat to Australia”. Mr Xiao emphasised the importance of China and Australia ensuring to “properly handle [their] differences”, and suggested that China is committed to pursuing a policy of peace.
Election commitments continue
The Coalition has made multiple defence-related commitments over the past week. This includes an $8 billion investment in expanding Australia’s helicopter fleet; a $1 billion commitment for specialised equipment and technology for Australia’s special operations forces; and a pledge to train 1,500 Australians in defence manufacturing and technology. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price also confirmed a $700 million investment in the General John Baker Complex, the Australian Defence Force’s operational headquarters, and announced that a $69.9 million grant has been awarded to build the Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites Cooperative Research Centre. This will support domestic space, defence and medical manufacturing.
Other significant announcements from the Coalition include the release of its Plan for Agriculture and Fisheries, as well as its Plan for Protecting Australia’s Borders, which includes a commitment to charge foreign criminals for the cost of their immigration detention. The Coalition has also committed $53 million to assist with the costs of IVF, and unveiled a $50 million partnership with the University of New South Wales and the University of Newcastle to develop clean energy technology including solar, hydrogen, storage, and green metals. Additionally, the Coalition promised $220 million to upgrade the vehicle and pedestrian infrastructure around Epping station in Sydney’s north-west, a commitment that was subsequently matched by Labor.
The Opposition appeared with multiple state Labor premiers this week to make announcements. Alongside Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the Opposition committed $2.2 billion to support construction of the Victorian Government’s Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) project. It also joined newly-elected South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas to announce a $400 million commitment to expand the Flinders Medical Centre. Additionally, the Opposition confirmed a partnership with the Queensland Government to create a Battery Manufacturing Precinct. Other significant announcements include a $146.5 million commitment to improve teaching standards, $224.5 million for a national threatened species program, and a pledge to review the anti-siphoning scheme to support increased access to free live television and sport.
The Coalition’s official campaign launch will take place in Brisbane this Sunday.
Policy Wrap Up
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) published its annual general insurance statistics. These contain institution-level information on key performance indicators.
The NSW Auditor-General released the financial audit report for the state’s Transport cluster agencies for the year ending 30 June 2021. The report noted that NSW Treasury and Transport Asset Holding Entity of NSW (TAHE) should monitor the risk that control of TAHE assets could change in the future.
RESOURCES AND ENERGY
Victorian Minister for Resources Jaala Pulford announced the State Government’s plan to improve management of the Latrobe Valley coal mine land after it ceases production. Minister Pulford has outlined provisions for improved preparations for land rehabilitation as Victoria begins moving away from coal-fired energy.
As part of the 2022-23 State Budget, the WA Government allocated $652 million to climate change responses and environmental protection measures. The investment includes $62 million towards transitioning Rottnest Island to 75 per cent renewable energy.
Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands to collaborate on hydrogen export supply chain opportunities.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
As part of the 2022-23 WA State Budget, Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti announced $400 million in additional funding for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road. The project will provide a road network for traffic travelling into and around Bunbury, enabling the avoidance of 13 sets of traffic lights and one rail level crossing.
Minister Saffioti also confirmed the WA Government will lift the 10 per cent On-demand Passenger Levy earlier than expected, with the levy now to conclude on 31 May 2022. The levy was applied to all taxi and charter vehicles in the Perth metropolitan area in April 2019 and was implemented to fund the Perth Taxi Plate Buyback Scheme.
The Tasmanian Government called for tenders for the new $10 million Burnie Ambulance Station. Construction is proposed to start in 2022 and be completed in 2023.
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) released an Equity Economics report, where it pinpointed a $4.4 billion gap in Commonwealth, State and Territory Government and private health support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Significant health allocations within the 2022-23 NT Government’s Budget 2022-23 included[PDF] $60 million to reduce COVID-19 pressures in the hospital system and $15.4 million for Head to Health mental health clinics.