Crikey asks the sharpest political commentators which leader got the best of the campaigning weekend, plus we track where the leaders are and what cash promises they’ve made … 

WHO WON THE WEEKEND?

Bernard Keane, Crikey Canberra correspondent: Tony Abbott for a successful debate launch, no question.

Richard Farmer, Crikey election analyst: A Prime Minister looking prime ministerial while worrying about Syria would normally be a perfect campaign image. But not when confronted with those Abbott daughters. The battle of the pictures was a non-contest and assured a clear win for the Coalition despite the virtual absence of policies at the so-called “policy launch”.

Tim Wilson, policy director at the Institute of Public Affairs: Rudd tried to use the escalating tensions in Syria to assert a statesman-like pose and handed a potential political hand grenade to Abbott; then came Kitchen Cabinet. You can be a statesman, or a celebrity, but you cannot be both in a potential national security crisis. Yesterday’s Coalition launch was well-orchestrated. Abbott delivered a speech that would have connected with swing voters without his usual reluctant umms and ahhs. A very clear win to the Coalition.

Dr Dennis Glover, veteran Labor speechwriter and fellow of the Per Capita think tank: Labor starts the week with a Newspoll lift, which gives it some momentum. Its messaging improved late last week, and will need to keep improving, but wasn’t helped by a weak weekend. Kevin Rudd’s performance on Insiders was strangely listless. He can’t afford any more wasted opportunities. The Coalition would have taken the weekend but missed an opportunity to nail Labor’s coffin shut with a top-class campaign launch — which turned out to be pretty mediocre. Abbott’s speech was ordinary. I call the weekend a scoreless draw.

Ian Smith, partner of Bespoke Approach advisory firm and former Liberal Party advisor: The winner was Abbott — if you don’t win with your campaign launch you’re doing something wrong. So expect Rudd to win next weekend. The Liberals’ launch was slick and professional, and if a political leader has a capable spouse and charismatic children, use them. Kevin Rudd’s weekend was muddled. He was surely the only world leader whose attention on the horrors in Syria could be overshadowed by a cooking show.

CASH TRACKER

We’re keeping track of what the major parties are pledging to do with your money. The Coalition streaked well in front over the weekend for a total of over $62 billion in new spending (and just about no spending cuts announced whatsover during this campaign). On Labor’s side, they’re still in the black, with a net result of negative $15 billion (i.e. their savings are greater than their spendings). So how will the Coalition pay for all these promises? We’re updating the site daily.

Here are the spendings and savings announced since Friday …

Labor:

Coalition:

CAMPAIGN DIARY (MONDAY)

Kevin Rudd: spending the day in Sydney, ahead of a speech on foreign affairs at the Lowy Institute tomorrow. Rudd had a photo opportunity at a childcare centre in Mascot, reading the book Shoes from Grandpa and building towers. He’s making an announcement on high speed rail as Crikey hits deadline.

Tony Abbott: started the day in Brisbane, moving north to spruik his apprenticeship loan scheme in the marginal Labor seat of Petrie. The opposition leader told ABC Radio National this morning that voters would know more of his budget savings by the end of the week, in a rather defensive interview with host Fran Kelly (Abbott rarely appears on RN). Abbott also asked Kelly to campaign for him, hinting / joking that he would appear on his show more often if he became PM. Strange stuff.

Christine Milne: The Greens leader is in Melbourne today, launching a $12 million program to support artists with MP Adam Bandt. She will take part in a Google Hangout with Fairfax this afternoon.

Clive Palmer and Bob Katter will debate each other at the National Press Club, starting at 12:30pm. Palmer tweeted that it was a “battle of the white hair brigade”.

CANDIDATE OF THE DAY

The Palmer United candidate for Brisbane took a leaf out of the Jaymes Diaz book of campaigning last week, knowing the number of policies, but not what they actually are, in a radio interview with community station 4ZZZ. Veronica Ford insisted that PUP has five main policies and “we have other policies”. Ford makes more sense towards the end of the interview, when she seems to start reading from the PUP website.

QUIRK OF THE DAY

Julian Assange in a mullet wig singing along to Farnsy is one of the best moments of the campaign so far. According to their Youtube profile, Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant are responsible for creating Juice Rap News, which tells us everything we need to know about the election campaign, in a “suburban backyard home-studio in Melbourne”. Language warning: some rude words.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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