Bernard Keane, Crikey politics editor: A loss for both sides. There was general scepticism about Scott Morrison’s magical discovery of $2 billion in welfare savings, though Seven mentioned something about targeting pensioners, which won’t have gone down well. Bill Shorten, meanwhile, thought it’d be clever to take a Turnbull quote out of context to demonstrate politicians can’t be trusted … There’s something meta in that, but not enough to get Shorten off the hook. There’s a sense now that Turnbull is running down the clock, protecting his lead. Let’s hope he hasn’t misread the scoreboard.

Dr John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader: Suspect scares not working — probably just consolidating traditional support rather than attracting new support. Still hard to read in SA and WA but others will probably follow the betting odds. (Coalition.)

Dr Dennis Glover, veteran Labor speechwriter and fellow of Per Capita think tank: The big winner from yesterday was surely Tony Windsor who, should he win or lose, will surely gain from The Australian‘s voyage to the gutter to dredge up 40-year-old playground disagreements. The people are sick of that stuff. Political class: do you get it yet? You are digging your own graves. Sadly, the second half of the election campaign has pivoted around accountancy, which doesn’t bode well for Labor. With all the zombie savings measures and 10-year-plan nonsense and heroic promises to create jobs that only the economy (not the politicians) can create, the campaign itself has settled nothing. The incoming government will be able to start from a clean slate, which will mean pretty much business as usual.

Simon Brehney, director of policy at the Institute of Public Affairs: Desperation is not a good frame of mind in which to be making decisions. But that’s the position federal Labor finds itself in. Bill Shorten’s decision to include a quote from Malcolm Turnbull suggesting that there can be a gap between what politicians say and what they eventually end up doing was a serious error of judgement. The Turnbull quote was in the context of an attack on the credibility of the Labor Party, and Shorten’s attack simply amplified that original attack. A massive own goal, and a win for Malcolm Turnbull.




The government waited until the final week of the campaign to make its first savings promise, but it’s a big one. There wasn’t a lot of room on the spending front, but a former PM had good news for his old mates from Manly. Nothing for Labor on the spending front this morning.




  • Nada


Malcolm Turnbull: The PM spent his Wednesday in Sydney, where he campaigned in the seat of Barton with local member Nickolas Varvaris, who took the seat from Labor on a slender majority in 2013. Turnbull had a total of five radio stops across both the AM and FM band during the morning. He spoke to the ABC’s regional radio station, where he assured listeners that the same-sex marriage plebiscite will work, and he also stated his support for the CFA and defended Liberal candidate Chris Jermyn. True to his Malsplaining ways, he talked right up until the news headlines cut him off. It was a bit like the music playing off Halle Berry at her Oscars speech.


Bill Shorten: The Opposition Leader heads north from Melbourne to Sydney today, where he’s got his key campaign message down to four words, “Save Medicare, vote Labor”. He also moved to clarify his decision to oppose the plebiscite for same-sex marriage after it was revealed he told the Australia Christian Lobby he’d support the idea in 2013. Shorten said he had changed his view to reflect the shift in community attitudes since then. He visited the south-western Sydney seat of Banks, which was taken by the Liberals by a margin on a 1.8% margin in 2013 for the first time since it was created in 1949. He was supporting Labor candidate Chris Gambian in his bid to claim one of the many seats Labor needs to reclaim government. They journeyed together to the Riverwood Community Centre to promote the Labor Medicare campaign, reminding voters that a vote for Chris Gambian is a vote for Medicare. Before any of this, his first stop was an early breakfast radio interview at Fox FM (2Day FM) where the hosts Dan and Maz found the most remarkable lookalike. Their producer has an uncanny resemblance to a young Bill Shorten.


The Greens: The Greens held an announcement in Melbourne late this morning, where they outlined their key priorities for negotiations in the next term of parliament. Greens leader Richard Di Natale was flanked by Victorian Senator Janet Rice and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt to support Greens candidates in a number of Melbourne seats. He announced that the Greens would be a force in the next Parliament, pushing for action on climate change, a treaty with indigenous Australians and marriage equality.


Pauline Hanson is set to complete a shock return to the political scene and take her place in the Australian Senate, according to recent polling, and if the numbers are to be believed she might even be taking a second One Nation Senator with her. It’s been 20 years since Hanson stormed onto the political scene in the 1996 federal election, was disendorsed by the Liberal Party, won the seat of Oxley as an independent and declared Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians”. Then she formed One Nation, claimed 11 seats and 22% of the vote in the 1998 Queensland election and looked unstoppable. In 2002 she was arrested for electoral fraud and sentenced to three years imprisonment in 2003, during which her party were all but wiped out in Queensland. In 20 years she’s gone from nothing, to something, to everything, to nothing and now back to something. Someone needs to “please explain” how this souffle has risen again.

Speaking of surprise returns, Rob Oakeshott could be on his way back to Parliament in the rural NSW seat of Cowper with new polls showing a dramatic drop in support for sitting Nationals MP and minister, Luke Hartsuyker. Oakeshott, along with Tony Windsor, helped Julia Gillard get over the line in the 2010 hung parliament, and suffered the vitriol of Tony Abbott’s team as a result. It seemed they were destined to go quietly into the night after that, but with Malcolm Turnbull making flying visits to Cowper, one suspects that there’s a few headaches at Coalition HQ.


A fairly close race today, with the PM narrowly winning the media mentions, although Shorten has a good day on social media. Meanwhile it seems the Greens were off the radar.








Treasurer Scott Morrison has fueled speculation he might not support a vote on same-sex marriage, even if the proposed plebiscite was returned in favour. Yesterday’s scorecard reported that Morrison and Turnbull were forced to defend the plebiscite, after it was criticised by Labor Senator Penny Wong. Turnbull claimed that, in the event of a successful vote, legislation would “sail through Parliament”. However, Leigh Sales had trouble getting a straight answer out of ScoMo when she interviewed him on last night’s 7.30 program. He said he’d “respect” the outcome of the plebiscite, but failed to actually say which way he’d vote. He got characteristically tetchy as the questions kept coming, and he wasn’t going to let anyone put words in his mouth:

“Leigh, I’ll use my words, you can use yours and you’re not allowed to put words in my mouth … I have said that I will respect the outcome of the plebiscite entirely … I get to choose the words I use as a politician, you get to use the words you use to put questions and that’s how it works.”

As the 21st-century poet Miley Cyrus once said, “It’s my mouth, I’ll say what I want to.”


Women are venting their frustration after official correspondence from Liberal candidates were addressed using the same names as their male housemates, regardless of whether they had taken his name, married him, or were even in a relationship. Party officials apologised for the error and claimed that it happened because individuals were mistakenly grouped together by their addresses. Whatever the reason, our feminist PM won’t be pleased.



A controversial party, described as anti-vaccination and anti-fluoride, has crept onto the NSW Senate ballot paper. The ironically named Health Australia Party changed its name from the Natural Medicine Party after taking on a broader range economic, education and animal welfare policies. They’ve been slammed by the Australian Medical Association, which compared their policies on vaccination and fluoride to conspiracy theories about the CIA keeping surveillance over us all. (Tin foil hats on standby). The wonderful thing about democracy is, in broad terms, it provides anyone an opportunity to have their ideas heard in a freely elected, representative body. The even better thing about democracy is that nobody is compelled to listen to those ideas. Anesthetist and Medical Journal Australia writer Simon Hendel summed up the opinion of most medical professionals on the Health Australia Party.




Independent candidate for Calwell John Hsu has confirmed he still intends to contest the upcoming election on a platform of “Jobs and Growth” despite having quit the Liberal Party earlier this month. He never actually stated his reasons for leaving, although there’s a lot of speculation it’s due to his alleged ownership of the Paradise Playmates brothel in Frankston. He denied being associated with the brothel or having had any connection to the sex industry, despite the business being listed at Hsu’s address. Because nominations were submitted before Hsu quit the party, he will still appear as a Liberal candidate, which will probably send a few extra votes his way. The seat is held by Labor on a very healthy majority so it probably won’t matter, but at least he’ll have plenty of playmates to cheer him up.


The Labor Party has launched an 11th-hour ad blitz in what it’s calling the “defining moment of the campaign” after Malcolm Turnbull handed them some serious ammunition. It seems Turnbull has has come down with an unfortunate dose of honesty just days before the poll after he told voters that political parties don’t always deliver what they say they will:

“What political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily ultimately what they will do.”

Bill Shorten immediately declared this was proof Turnbull was planning to privatise Medicare in the next term of government. He accused the PM of “lying to the face” of the Australian voters as the negativity and scare tactics escalate on both sides during the climax of the campaign.

“His campaign is essentially, ‘I’m Malcolm, don’t hold me to anything, it’s my time, it’s my turn, it’s my place’.”


It’s all about coffee for voters at the moment, the folks at Bankstown Muffin Break have found a novel way to keep track of how the election is shaping up. No word yet on whether Newspoll plans to install a similar bean counter in their office.


Meanwhile, Andrew Giles got some latte love of his own; this barista is obviously a fan of the member for Scullin.




Is Nick Xenophon trying to out-Shorten Bill Shorten? We could call him Nick Zingerphon after this one.



Labor is going after Turnbull for letting slip that sometimes politicians say one thing and do another. Shorten is under scrutiny for changing his tune on the same-sex marriage plebiscite since 2013. Both of them were on a radio blitz this morning. The Greens talked shop for the next Parliament.

Peter Fray

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