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 TUESDAY?

Bernard Keane, Crikey Canberra correspondent: A clear win for Tony Abbott courtesy of Kevin Rudd’s bizarre thought bubble about a major relocation of the navy to Brisbane. It looked poorly conceived and a tad desperate, as though the Rudd campaign had exhausted its list of announcements and was now simply saying whatever came to mind. Rudd’s attempt to suggest Abbott might not be up to handling foreign policy issues — probably not incorrect — also looked a tad grubby given the nightmarish situation in Syria.

Richard Farmer, Crikey election analyst: It’s impossible to declare someone who makes things up as he goes along a winner so yesterday belonged to the Coalition. And if promising some time in the future to relocate Australia’s main naval base from Sydney to Brisbane does actually win a vote or two in Brisbane it will surely lose just as many in Sydney. That doesn’t seem like sensible politics. Abbott stuck with the tried and true factory visit that has served him so well.

Norman Abjorensen, visiting fellow at the ANU and author of three books on the Liberal Party: A difficult day to determine. Did the Prime Minister score brownie points in Queensland with his plan to move the Garden Island naval facility north from Sydney? And did he score a negative in Sydney with associated job losses? It’s a gamble on his part and more evidence, perhaps, of policy on the run. No winner for yesterday.

Nicholas Reece, public policy fellow at the University of Melbourne and former adviser to Julia Gillard: It was a mixed day on the campaign trail, which is not unexpected at the mid-campaign point; but with Tony Abbott in front they would be happy to take that. In Victoria it was all about James Hird and Essendon, and election news was lucky to make it after the second ad break. In NSW and Queensland, Rudd’s navy announcement was the story of the day, which plays as a win in Queensland and a loss in NSW. For the Coalition this campaign is now about risk management, keeping it very tight and limiting the prospect of any mistakes. Narrow points victory to Rudd based on the navy announcement, although at this stage in the campaign with a lead in the polls, Abbott is happy to concede a loss on a single day.

CASH TRACKER

Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey blew our Cash Tracker out of the water this morning, detailing about $14 billion in savings over the next four years (should they win government). That includes 18 separate items; measures like saving $1.3 billion from reducing the humanitarian refugee intake, and $11 billion in savings associated with the mining tax (cutting the compensation etc that goes with Labor’s tax). The Coalition says that brings their total savings announced to date to $31 billion.

We’re going through the list with a finetooth comb, alert to budgeting tricks and sleights of hand (so the paid parental leave scheme has a net positive impact on the budget of $1.1 billion? We’ll do a breakdown of that for you). We’ll be updating the Cash Tracker this afternoon — be sure to check in and see what today’s news does to the Coalition tally. Here are some smaller promises from the last 24 hours:

Labor:

Coalition:

  • $75 million for cash incentives for young people who gain and keep employment;
  • $21 million for road development on the NSW Central Coast;
  • $16 million towards the Cadbury factory upgrade in Hobart;
  • $300 million towards underground freight train lines in outer Brisbane.

CAMPAIGN DIARY (WEDNESDAY)

Kevin Rudd: Starting the day in Brisbane, the Prime Minister spent the morning among friends, visiting the Queensland Teachers’ Union and speaking to members of the BLF and CFMEU. Rudd will fly to Sydney for tonight’s final debate with Abbott at the Rooty Hill RSL. But will people want to tune in? MasterChef is on …

Tony Abbott: The Opposition Leader made the sweetest stop on the campaign trail, announcing $16 million for the iconic Cadbury factory in Hobart. He let Joe Hockey do the talking on Coalition costings, and will fly to Sydney to take on Rudd tonight.

Christine Milne: The Greens leader is in Canberra today, announcing a $9 billion health policy with Senator Richard di Natale. She will also campaign with Greens’ lead Senate candidate in the ACT (and The Australian’s bete noire), Simon Sheikh.

QUIRK OF THE DAY

GetUp! are having fun with their ads this campaign. This is what they think Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids should be used for …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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