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: For once an easy win to Kevin Rudd. His campaign launch performance yesterday was strong and offered a coherent, if limited — and very modest — pitch that aligned with Labor’s wider themes. Meantime, Tony Abbott’s “baddies versus baddies” line on Syria confirmed that Abbott will be even more out of his depth than most new PMs when it comes to foreign affairs.

Dennis Glover, veteran Labor speechwriter and fellow of the Per Capita think-tank: Labor takes the weekend by dint of an energetic if belated and rather prosaic campaign launch. Putting the launch at the start of the campaign to spell out a sense of purpose and direction would have been better. But again the Coalition will feel the victors reading the weekend’s Newspoll.

Jane Caro, author, social commentator and communications consultant: It’s dispiriting; not a lot of what is being said tremendously resonates. The “baddies versus baddies” sums it up. There is a bit more energy happening with the announcements about small business from Labor. It does feel like there are still people who haven’t made up their mind. People are taking a “least worst choice” approach, and it seems they are deciding that Abbott is exactly that. That does leave an opportunity for Rudd — he just needs to grasp it. So far, Abbott is winning the campaign and has solidly from the beginning. It feels like Labor is trying to land a punch but Abbott manages to duck and miss them; Labor is not finding the right thing. They should stop worrying about Abbott and talk about themselves.

CASH TRACKER

There’s been a raft of new spending promises over the weekend, taking our grand total on the spending and cuts announced during the election campaign to negative 4.49 billion for Labor (so they’re net savers so far), and positive 10.22 billion for the Coalition (net spenders — but watch for more cuts this week). See every promise on our online Cash Tracker, which we’re updating daily.

Here are the latest promises …

Labor:

  • $1.6 million for an Indigenous Justice Program in the Kimberley;
  • $2.2 million for a hydrogen energy program, University of Woollongong;
  • $2 million for stormwater filtration, Cooks River NSW;
  • $6 million for community language schools;
  • $10 million to establish the Johnny Warren Football institute, Western Sydney;
  • $20 million to upgrade Dalrymple Road, Townsville;
  • $2 million for the ‘Save the Tasmanian Devil’;
  • $34.1 million for incentives for apprentices;
  • uncosted; direct payments to TAFEs if state governments won’t pay;
  • $200 million in tax breaks for small businesses;
  • $10 million for disabled children, including making playgrounds accessible;
  • $7 million for anti-violence social media campaign, ‘The Line’;
  • $18 million to upgrade technology at Simplot manufacturing plants in Bathurst and Devonport;
  • $137.3 million to protect the Great Barrier Reef;
  • $25 million to assist SPC Ardmona in modernising manufacturing (conditional promise);
  • $5.7 billion to upgrade the Bruce Highway Qld;
  • $12 million to establish Australian Universities Press;
  • $49 million in funding for Lifeline and workplace mental health.

Coalition:

  • $6 million for improvements to the aviation industry;
  • $18 million for the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health;
  • $20 million to upgrade Dalrymple Road, Townsville;
  • $2 million for children’s palliative care facility, Bear Cottage NSW;
  • $100 million for the ‘New Colombo Plan’, funding scholarships for university students to study in the Asia-Pacific;
  • $40 million for a ‘Reef Trust’ to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

CAMPAIGN DIARY (MONDAY)

Kevin Rudd: spending the whole day in Queensland, but he’s not sitting still. Appearing on Today and Sunrise from Townsville this morning, Rudd called himself the “underdog” of the campaign. He flew to Gladstone where he followed up yesterday’s announcement of incentives for apprentices. The Rudd camp will end the day in Brisbane where he will appear on Q and A tonight.

Tony Abbott: starting the day in Sydney, the Opposition Leader talked up his defence plans at the Holsworthy Barracks, saying there would be no cuts to the defence budget under a Coalition government. He backed away from his promise to visit Indonesia within his first week as prime minister, saying “it would be discourteous to just turn up unannounced and uninvited”. Abbott flew to Canberra next, ahead of his lunchtime speech at the National Press Club.

Christine Milne: is in Adelaide today, announcing education policy with senators Penny Wright and Sarah Hanson-Young. Milne announced the Greens would spend $1 billion on education, including adding 2200 teachers to disadvantaged schools and expanding music and Asian languages programs. She will also meet the Sumatran Orang-utan who predicted that she would win the federal election.

QUIRK OF THE DAY

The maker of ‘Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up?’ has turned his eye to the Australian election, “with apologies to Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams”. This auto-tuned mash-up captures the mood of the campaign, that Rudd is up all night to “Get Hockey”.

POP QUIZ

Fancy yourself as a political know-all? The Rudd or Abbott Quiz asks you to attribute quotes to each leader, with some surprising results.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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