WHO WON THE DAY?
Bernard Keane, Crikey politics editor: With both leaders in the west and the media focus on the beginning of pre-polling, there was no clear winner, though footage of Malcolm Turnbull’s exclusive $10,000-a-head soiree in Perth wasn’t a good look (Labor had a $10,000-a-head function in Sydney last week too), nor was WA Premier Colin Barnett being rather ostentatiously snubbed by Turnbull. But let’s consider the treaty issue. On Q&A Shorten was asked by an indigenous person about a treaty with Australia’s first peoples. He said he was up for a discussion about it. An entirely appropriate answer — since when should white politicians try to dictate what should and shouldn’t be debated about indigenous issues? But Turnbull seized on the comment to claim Shorten was endangering and distracting from the task of constitutional recognition — without explaining exactly how that was the case. It was a funny comment to make from the leader of a party that contains Cory Bernardi, who has attacked the whole recognition referendum as “divisive”, and from the side of politics that houses a reactionary and racist opposition to constitutional recognition at all. And illustrating yet again the close co-ordination between the Liberals and News Corp, this morning The Australian ran hard in attacking Shorten on the issue. The criticisms from “journalists” at the Oz and from Turnbull were facile, disingenuous and illustrative of how the promise of a more mature tone of policy debate from Turnbull has turned out to be hollow indeed. And once again, white men are trying to dictate to indigenous people what they’re allowed to talk about.
Dr John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader: Still a sombre disinterested mood, but I feel Turnbull starting to do better than polls suggest. Shorten is being seen as attempting to straddle a fiscal picket fence — fiscally responsible on one side but spending flat out on the other. We all know what can happen! I can’t see how he hoped to swing votes from trying to be “straight” with the voter and changing his mind on things like school kids bonus and family tax benefits. He is in danger of doing himself a serious injury.
Dr Zareh Ghazarian, political scientist at Monash University and author: The Greens won by becoming the focus of the day after releasing polling they commissioned that showed Kelly O’Dwyer could potentially be facing a challenge to win her seat of Higgins.
Dr Dennis Glover, veteran Labor speechwriter and fellow of Per Capita think tank: A couple of days ago I went to the pub with two very political friends, and it was only when I was walking home that it occurred to me we hadn’t mentioned the federal election at all. The Brexit, Donald Trump, the rise of fascism and extremism generally, the non-fiction books we were reading (about the Russian Revolution, Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, France in the 1950s) … but the election couldn’t force itself to the front of our mind. This is a paradox, because in some ways it’s one of the most policy-divided elections of recent times, at least when the competing policies are taken literally — something no sensible person does. There’s an explanation of sorts in this of course. Overseas the world seems a place where momentous political events are unfolding, just as they did for our grandparents’ generation, but here politics remains primarily an accounting exercise, where on the day after the poll is declared, the government will remind us that its promises are dependent on fiscal realities, etc, etc … There’s all at stake and nothing at stake. Unlike elsewhere, the centre is holding. Which is a nice problem to have.
After a crazy spending and saving spree turned yesterday’s scorecard into an economics thesis, things have returned to normal with only a few, much simpler promises. The only significant pledge is Labor’s proposal to fund type 1 diabetes testing.
- $10.8 million over four years to fund Environment Defenders Offices;
- $80 million to fund testing for type 1 diabetes testing technology; and
- $20 million to fund a Commonwealth Institute of Higher Education at Chisholm Institute.
Malcolm Turnbull: The PM is in Western Australia again today, where he will try to ensure that frustration with the state government doesn’t cost him too dearly in one of his strongest regions. He started off with a breakfast visit at the Royal Perth Golf Club in the seat of Swan, held by Liberal MP Steve Irons since 2007, where he addressed a small business conference. Then he headed over to had a chat on local radio station, Nova 97.3, to promote his plans for economic growth, but the PM also talked about his extensive tie collection. He will head east this afternoon to join his wife, Lucy, as she addresses the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Sydney.
Bill Shorten: A very busy day for the Opposition Leader. He will also start in Western Australia where he had a couple of radio interviews to start the day. He began with a chat to Carmen and Fitzi on Perth’s 96FM breakfast radio, then checked in with Perth’s local ABC radio and answering a number of questions on pensions. After touring Perth he’s on his way to Adelaide before making his final stop of a very long day in Sydney.
The Greens: Richard Di Natale put healthcare at the top of today’s agenda as the Senator launched the new “Denticare” policy. The Greens are pushing for progressive taxation to fund more essential healthcare, including access to publicly funded dental care.
Tony Abbott promised not to snipe or undermine when he was dumped by the Liberal Party last September, but Dennis Jensen didn’t. In fact, he seems to have made an unspoken promise to shoot down any former colleague who gets under his skin. He’s been closely following the Parakeelia scandal, which has been in the news over the last week, and he’s been more than a little cynical of the official party response. It’s so fun when a spurned party member goes all independent on us.
ISENTIA DAILY LEADER INDEX
ZINGER OF THE DAY
MALSPLAIN OF THE DAY
INVASIONS AND TREATIES
Sometimes elections can toss up a curveball issue, and it goes from periphery to the headlines. Constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians might be the dark horse issue of 2016. Bill Shorten told the ABC’s Tony Jones there should be some form of post-recognition settlement for indigenous Australians. In other words, a treaty. Malcolm Turnbull responded by reaffirming his support for constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians, but criticised Shorten for adding the treaty to the debate. However, he did accept the term “invasion” to describe the European settlement of Australia in 1788, moving into new territory for conservative leaders. Although it hasn’t been a popular topic lately, the idea of a treaty isn’t new. It was a big deal almost 30 years ago when Bob Hawke first proposed it in 1988. To the disappointment of many, it never eventuated. Unless you’re a Millennial, you’ll probably remember Aussie band Yothu Yindi recorded their greatest hit on that very issue.
The Greens have taken exception to the major parties’ decision to trade preferences and try to block Greens candidates from pinching marginal seats. Now the Greens are making some very unusual preferences of their own in the seat of Sydney, by placing Ula Falanga of Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party (CDP) ahead of the Liberal candidate, Geoffrey Winters. It’s not that we expect the Greens to stick up for the Liberals, it’s just that Winters is young, indigenous and gay, while Fred Nile believes homosexuals suffer a “mental disorder“. The Greens pride themselves on championing social justice, indigenous rights and LGBTIQ issues, so despite its practical purpose, the deal will surely leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Greens voters.
IS HIGGINS ON THE AUCTION BLOCK?
It’s been a rough campaign for Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer. Yesterday’s scorecard reported some alarming polling numbers for O’Dwyer, who was flying high after she was bumped to the cabinet when Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister last year. Now it’s emerged that she might be in trouble for having her campaign poster appear board from real estate agents Kay and Burton. The matter is now in the hands of Australia’s most scrupulous investigative body, Twitter. Whether the matter draws any official censure or not, the previously unthinkable idea of the Liberals losing Higgins seems a distinct possibility. At least she wasn’t being sponsored by some kind of luxury toaster company.
In fairness to O’Dwyer, her gaffes in this campaign are nothing compared to the likes of David Feeney or Chris Jermyn, so it seems she’s paying the price for the electorate’s broader frustration with her party. Whether the Greens claim Higgins or not this election, it does seem that the Liberals might have to prepare to part with one of their blue-ribbon seats in the future, as Labor did with the seat of Melbourne back in 2010.
PALMER’S PARTY GOES PAST CURFEW
Clive Palmer’s political career is sinking faster and more spectacularly than the Titanic he wants to rebuild. The Palmer United Party shocked Australia at the 2013 election when they claimed three Senate seats, and Palmer himself snatched the seat of Fairfax in the lower house. Since then, two of the three senators have defected, Palmer has retired and Dio Wang has somehow become the default leader of whatever it is PUP stands for. Now we find out that the party that fielded 168 candidates in 2013 is putting up just 15 this time. No need to call the police — this party will fizzle out long before any noise complaints.
QUIRK OF THE DAY
Apparently the Labor Party has been infiltrated by a group of Green insurgents. The Liberals have pulled out a good old-fashioned election scare ad, which which attacks Labor and its relationship with the Greens. The video looks like a trailer for a dystopian, post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie where an evil overlord has seized control and is oppressing humanity with irresponsible economic policies. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Ah, we see what you did there, Tim Ferguson. Not bad.
Both Turnbull and Shorten started their day in Perth and finished in Sydney. Labor promised funding for diabetes technology while Greens want better dental care.