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 DAY ON THURSDAY?
Bernard Keane, Crikey Canberra correspondent: Easy: Tony Abbott. Make-up-gate is the sort of thing drives serious policy types nuts, but it registers with voters, especially given it reinforces existing impressions of Kevin Rudd. That’s why News Corp was all over it. The complaint of the make-up artist, whether true or not, had the precious characteristic of authenticity that neither politicians nor the media can usually produce. Don’t like it? Find a different population.
Richard Farmer, Crikey election analyst: The leaders might change, but the messages from the focus groups don’t. A large slice of the financial envy that ex-PM Julia Gillard was stoking before her replacement is now part of the once holier-than-her rhetoric of Kevin Rudd. Mr Positive yesterday added attacking Liberals for promoting handouts to millionaires — even billionaires if I heard him right — to his basic attack strategy. Clearly it is a message that the researchers find resonating with those swinging voters. Responding to “what about me?” will continue to be a feature of the campaign from both sides until polling day. And Rudd delivers the words well in his cherubic fashion. Not well enough to outscore Tony Abbott on a daily score. The Coalition won the points because its pictures launching a health policy from a hospital were better and the pictures have more impact than words. But over the longer term of two-and-a-bit weeks, who knows? Those focus groups have a way of proving right.
John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader: The election seems to be slipping away from Rudd. He looks anxious. He is shooting more and more from the hip. While making some headway on Abbott about costings among the political elite, he weakens his case by continuing to announce unfunded initiatives himself — e.g. Northern Australia, GST compliance, etc. The electorate has pretty much tuned out on the issue. They don’t believe either side has the money. Rudd needed a big win in both debates, but didn’t get it. Not much new info from either side in the debates. The questions were pretty much predictable, as were the answers. Negative adds not working for Rudd. Polls a bit mixed but seem to be trending towards the Coalition.
Clement Macintyre, head of politics and history at the University of Adelaide: Yesterday was a strangely flat day as everyone digested the Wednesday evening forum and the fallout from that. Both leaders had minor stumbles that were picked over and acted as a distraction to their main focus for Thursday — but these won’t have major consequences. Of more concerns for the Liberals was the fact that the questions over the equity and the funding for their parental leave program wouldn’t go away. This is a Liberal policy that has been endorsed by the Greens, opposed by business and criticised by the Murdoch press. That’s not a position that many Liberal leaders find themselves in. Tony Abbott has not played this well and because of that yesterday was a rare (and modest) campaign win for Labor.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
- An extra $40 million for a new hospital in Palmerston, NT, which is in addition to the $70 million already committed;
- $10.3 million over four years to cut red tape around paid parental leave for businesses with fewer than 20 employees; and
- $6 million to build the new headquarters of the Sports Technology Innovation Partnership in Geelong, VIC.
- $340 million on its healthcare policy, including a national diabetes strategy and the restoration of the private health insurance rebate; and
- $42 million to expand the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University in Queensland.
CAMPAIGN DIARY (FRIDAY)
Kevin Rudd: The Prime Minister is doing a marathon tour of Western Sydney today, aiming to visit four to five marginal electorates in one day. He was photographed moving boxes of fruit at the Flemington market, leading the Liberal Party to cheekily re-tweet its Kevin O’Lemon advertisements. Those guys!
Tony Abbott: It’s Eye of the Tiger day for the Opposition Leader. He’s in NT today and began Friday with a stop at Robertson Barracks in Darwin. After some strenuous exercise (see Quirk of the Day) he addressed the troops. This afternoon he is expected to announce more of the Coalition’s new asylum seeker policy.
Christine Milne: The Greens leader is taking the day off today to deal with a personal matter, but deputy leader Adam Bandt will be doing a press conference in his electorate of Melbourne, addressing the Coaliton’s alleged $30 billion funding hole and issues of the day.
QUIRK OF THE DAY
There’s no denying that campaigns are grueling on party leaders, as they criss-cross the entire country trying to snag undecided voters. But opposition Leader Tony Abbott took it to a whole new level today, joining in on a training session with the 1st Armoured at Robertson Barracks. The pictures alone must go into the campaign Hall of Fame. Can’t see John Howard doing any of this:
TWEET OF THE DAY
Hot on the heels of make-up-gate, Crikey can bring you the latest scandal: poach-gate! Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has been stealing PM Kevin Rudd’s campaign workers, a fact he proudly tweeted yesterday. We can’t confirm at this point that the worker did switch sides, but maybe the new Labor campaign slogan has something to do with it: “Ew, Leadership”.