Crikey asks the sharpest political commentators which leader got the best of the campaigning day yesterday, plus we track where the leaders are and what cash promises they’ve made …
WHO WON THE WEEKEND?
Bernard Keane, Crikey Canberra correspondent: It felt like campaigns of old on the weekend, with Kevin Rudd promising a big upgrade of Sydney’s Westmead Hospital and hundreds of millions of extra dollars for the car industry off in the future, while Tony Abbott unveiled, yet again, his “free money for rich women” paid parental leave scheme, along with extensive details of its costs and how it would be funded. Well, scratch that last bit: it’s unclear how it will be funded or what it will cost, but the “free money” bit will probably be the part that sticks in punters’ minds. Abbott’s day, albeit an expensive purchase at $5.5 billion a year.
Richard Farmer, Crikey election analyst: That old leaked speech trick worked like a charm for the Liberal Party at the weekend. The papers foreshowed the words about parental leave that were to come, the electronic media duly featured the actual announcement and the pundits made it a triple whammy by then discussing its electoral significance. And all this coverage for something that was not even new — a re-announcement of an old policy. [pullquote position=”right”]The gullibility of journalists when it comes to matters of spin knows no bounds[/pullquote]. It made Abbott the easiest of weekend winners.
Norman Abjorensen, visiting fellow at the ANU and former Liberal speechwriter: Issue for issue, Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme has a certain tangible appeal to voters whereas Kevin Rudd’s decision to withhold benefits from parents who fail to have their children immunised has a certain nebulous, negative quality. It’s hard to see it as a vote winner. The Coalition’s reluctance to expose its costings to public scrutiny until the final week raises doubts about trustworthiness whereas Labor’s increasingly negative advertising suggests desperation. Gloomy marginal seat polling for Labor in NSW further darkens the mood for the government and just might trigger a bandwagon effect. On balance, the Coalition.
Dennis Glover, veteran Labor speechwriter and fellow of the Per Capita think tank: On the policy announcements you might be inclined to call it even — cars on one side,
upper, upper middle-class welfare I mean maternity leave on the other. But there’s no doubt that arriving at their desks at 5:30 this morning to read the online edition of The Australian with its widening Newspoll lead, the Coalition team will be feeling like winners. There’s a strange lack of direction and cut-through about Labor’s campaign that seems to stem from a lack of any obvious and clear belief system in the grand old party of radical Australia. Thanks to Newspoll, Liberals take the weekend.
Here are promises made over the weekend and this morning. For the net result so far in the campaign, check out our online site.
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- $3.5 million for the Biala Community Health Centre, Queensland;
- $3.9 million for more NT indigenous ranger jobs;
- $500 million for the car industry;
- $8 million for the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity;
- $1.25 million for school music;
- $2 million for a new warehouse for Foodbank NSW;
- $1 million for indigenous health programs in Queensland;
- $2.5 million for a Technology and Computer Recycling Centre to employ people with disabilities in South Australia;
- $24.6 million for redevelopment of defence housing in Enoggera, Brisbane;
- $103. 6 million to cover the gap in GP costs for families of defence personnel;
- $3.2 million for Arthritis Australia.
- $11 billion for Paid Parental Leave Scheme (calculated over the forward estimates; accompanying partial cut in company tax rate is already listed in our Cash Tracker);
- $100 million for customs screening to stop gun smuggling;
- $10 million upgrade to Brookvale Oval, Sydney;
- $25 million for indigenous employment program;
- $1.3 billion for road projects, Perth.
CAMPAIGN DIARY (MONDAY)
Kevin Rudd: The PM didn’t only have to deal with bad polls this morning, but a loose fan belt brought the media bus to a halt on the way to Sydney. Rudd made a TV appearance on Sunrise this morning, but has been quiet since. He’s heading for the seat of Richmond in northern NSW, held by the ALP’s Justine Elliot.
Tony Abbott: The seat of Bennelong has been a popular stomping ground during the campaign and Abbott was there again this morning, spruiking the Coalition’s small business credentials. He moved on to western Sydney, where he announced a plan to enforce a five-year minimum sentence for gun-smuggling and $100 million for customs to prevent guns getting in to the country.
Christine Milne: The Greens leader is in Darwin today, where she launched various campaigns over the weekend. Milne travels to Perth tonight.
QUIRK OF THE DAY
The Greens’ lead senate candidate in the ACT (and The Australian’s bete noire) Simon Sheikh has warned voters against post-election regret.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Life can be tough on the campaign trail. Luckily for Treasurer Chris Bowen in Brisbane, a bit of coffee art brightened up his day. We suspect bleary-eyed staffers and journos on the campaign trail are drinking lots of these …