Queensland was once again the destination of choice yesterday, as the two leaders continued their marginal seat tour of duty in the sunshine state. Julia Gillard was in Brisbane to announce funding for mental health and a rail link, while Tony Abbott visited a fish monger in Mackay to promise a freeze on new marine parks. Happily, none of this meant much to sections of the media, who are becoming increasingly insistent on a prime ministerial wedding.
So, after 10 days of hard campaigning, Tony Abbott’s Stop The Boats Schooner has navigated its way through 16,909km of rough seas, while Julia Gillard’s Working Australians Wagon has travelled a mere 9,291km. Together that’s a total of 26,200km — the equivalent of almost two return honeymoons to Bangkok.
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- Julia Gillard was in Brisbane yesterday morning, where she promised an immediate boost of $277 million for suicide prevention measures. In making the announcement, Gillard said mental heath was a second-term priority for a Labor government. The plan would provide psychological counselling services for 12,500 people who have attempted suicide or are at risk of suicide, 20,000 specialist psychiatry sessions for people with severe mental illness and funding for the careers of mentally ill people.
- Gillard remained in Brisbane that afternoon, where she pledged $740 million of federal money to help build a rail link to Redcliffe, north of Brisbane. The line — which locals have been promised for decades — will slice through a number of north Brisbane marginal seats (on an existing land corridor — no messy resumptions during an election campaign). The Liberals immediately matched the commitment.
- Tony Abbott visited a fish market in Mackay in central Queensland yesterday, where he announced a freeze on all marine parks under a Coalition government — putting on hold the Marine Bioregional Planning process. “Many communities will face enormous losses unless there is proper and effective consultation on future Marine Protected Areas,” he said.
- Abbott then flew Sydney, where he flagged an extension of the welfare quratnine system that operates in the Northern Territory. Under the scheme, half of dole payments must be used on essentials. “If it’s right and just in the Territory … why not elsewhere?” he said in a speech to the Sydney Institute.
- Julia Gillard’s was hit by yet another leak last night, with Laurie Oakes revealing on Channel Nine she disagreed with cabinet proposals for a paid parental leave scheme and a pension increase.
- Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison’s scripted public hand shake with Nauru’s foreign minister Kieren Keke was certainly up there as one of the stunts of the campaign.
- But it’s hard to go past Julia Gillard for her front cover appearance on this month’s Women’s Weekly, out today:
Where are they today?
- Finally, we have a leader in Adelaide. Julia Gillard is there to campaign in Christopher Pyne’s seat of Sturt, a seat that with Gillard’s local roots party strategists believe is winnable. She’ll announce a $10 million plan to ‘water-proof’ eastern Adelaide.
- Tony Abbott is in Sydney and is today expected to hit the beach to campaign in Manly, in his home electorate of Warringah. As the Sydney Morning Herald notes: “Thank God it’s raining, there is less likelihood he will take his clothes off.”
- Bob Brown is in the NSW town of Orange for a tree-planting ceremony to mark the life of popular former local member, the late Peter Andren.
What is the tracker?
Crikey tracks each leader’s amazing race across the country via our Election Tracker. Each day we’ll plot the leaders’ movements, feeding in the key policy announcements and spending commitments, the best media coverage and social media chat, plus the campaign stunts and bloopers. You can also use the tracker as a hub for the best Crikey coverage.
Click on the tabs across the top to watch how many kilometres Gillard and Abbott have clocked up, the movements of other key players and finally our bloopers and stunts bonanza on the right. You can click on each stop to see what they’re up to, with links to extended coverage and detailed electorate information.