WHO WON THE DAY?
Bernard Keane, Crikey politics editor: The day was dominated by the same-sex marriage plebiscite, which should have been bad news for Turnbull with his senior ministry visibly in disarray over it, but there was some nice spoiling by News Corp unearthing a three-year old story about Shorten not opposing a plebiscite. That made for a nice “they’re all the same” angle from most outlets — although ABC Radio’s coverage seem to suggest what Shorten said three years ago, rather than what the likes of Morrison and Bishop were saying now, was the real story. Narrow win for Shorten despite the eccentricities, shall we say, of the media coverage.
John Connolly, founder of John Connolly and Partners public relations firm: What a fizzer! An election campaign that promised so much over such a long time and at the finish line everyone ran out of ideas……unless there’s some photos of Malcolm the ALP has kept under wraps till today. It’s a bit like Pheidippides running to Athens but carking it at the 25.9 mile mark. So what do we know coming into the last turn? The ALP campaign is dead in the water this week. Brexit is a free kick for the Coalition. It’s this election’s Tampa moment. The electorate see the Libs as better economic managers in a world that’s going to Athens in a hand basket. A relative of Pheidippides, Nick Xenophon will get up to four in the Senate and two in the lower house. Anthony Albanese and David Feeney will both retain their seats. Is Kelly O’Dwyer at risk in Higgins? There is no hard left of the ALP. That has been outsourced to the Greens who are trying hard to look like any party led by Don Chipp. Post election, Malcolm will still have to deal with the hard right in the LNP. This is a group that make the Tea Party look like socialists. My bet is when the gloss comes off Malcolm after the election, as it always does, the right will install Scott Morrison and ensure gays, migrants and anyone who isn’t Protestant don’t take over this glorious land. The bottom line is the LNP will lose eight seats.
Simon Cowan, research manager at the Centre for Independent Studies: The carefully stage-managed campaigns have begun to wobble and the leaders look so tired they might start hallucinating at any minute — watch out for Shorten to announce he is pulling out of the Olympics because of the Zika virus, and Malcolm to respond by blaming it on reckless spending by the Brazilian Rudd government. The outcome is far too close to call even if there are hints of Labor trying to temper expectations — and some candidates, interest groups and media shifting focus to post-election positioning.
Clement Macintyre, professor of politics and international studies at the University of Adelaide: Has it come to this? A few days out from an election and both major parties are twisting and turning on a proposed same sex marriage plebiscite. Some Liberals are unable to commit to how they would vote in the parliament and the leader of the Opposition is being hung out to dry on his shifting position. At the same time both parties are dying in a ditch over the accuracy of their long-term budget forecasts when there is scant difference between them and no one can be confident about any long-range projections. Neither party won the day, but there is little doubt that Australian voters are the losers in this mind-numbing campaign as the focus stays on trivialities rather than substance.
Simon Banks, federal director at Hawker Britton and former chief of staff for Kevin Rudd: Trust is ultimately the defining issue of every election campaign. While you vote for the policies each party has on offer, you also accept that issues will arise that you cannot predict. The debate about marriage equality is a policy debate in its own right. But it’s also an indication of how the parties will or will not respect your vote. And the Coalition is now openly saying they will ask your opinion at a plebiscite but then ignore it if it suits them. It’s the same for this election. At the last election the Coalition said there would be “no cuts to education, no cuts to health and no changes to pensions”. You voted for them and they did not respect your vote. Now the Coalition are openly planning to do it all over again. This is exactly what Malcolm Turnbull means when he says he wants to be “agile”. Who won the day? The ALP by default. The Coalition clearly lost it.
Spending promises have started to dry up as we get closer to Saturday. The only promise of more than $1 million yesterday was from the Nationals, in the all-important seat of New England.
- $10 million for the Tenterfield heavy vehicle bypass in New England.
The Coalition: Ahead of his address to the National Press Club today, Turnbull has performed yet another radio blitz, speaking to no less than five different stations this morning. With marriage equality, perhaps surprisingly, dominating debate as we near election day, Turnbull once again defended the plebiscite saying that it would be a “unifying” debate. He has also demanded that Bill Shorten, should the Coalition win the election, support legislation allowing a plebiscite, arguing that Labor should not deny such a clear mandate.
Bill Shorten: The Opposition Leader has also been on a radio tip this morning after the blackout on political ads started last night. Speaking to Alan Jones he said that Labor was still “very competitive” despite a slip in the polls. He said that the Liberal party was dissatisfied with Turnbull’s leadership and that there was “a discernible mood to change the government”. In addition to giving radio interviews Shorten is focusing on health, visiting two hospitals in marginal Brisbane seats, as he seeks to position the election as a referendum on Medicare.
The Greens: Richard Di Natale spoke to Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne this morning where he outlined the key issues the Greens would negotiate on should they win the balance of power. He said they would push for no new coal mines, and also said that a plebiscite would cause harm. On the Prime Minister, he said Turnbull had been a huge disappointment and that he “had some nerve” to talk about stability considering how he took leadership. Di Natale is campaigning with Alex Bhathal in the seat of Batman today, which the Greens hope to take off Labor. Bhathal is clearly popular with at least one voter; this man said his Mum would be “rapt” with the selfie he took with the Greens candidate.
Though the Coalition has amped up their spending in South Australia this past week and despite Turnbull’s warnings that a vote for minor parties will lead to instability, Nick Xenophon looks set to achieve a big proportion of the primary vote in his home state on Saturday. A new poll commissioned by Xenophon has found that that NXT should pick up several Senate spots and has a chance of winning lower house seats such as Grey and Mayo. The Lonergan Research poll of 3000 people found that NXT’s primary vote was at 24%, compared to Labor at 26% and the Liberals at 36%.
Over in Tasmania former Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie has lashed out at the Liberal party over an ad which highlights her record of voting with the Greens two-thirds of the time.
“The Liberal Party’s nothing but a pack of liars. When I’ve got the PM of this country lying over something simple, because they’re starting to get their knickers in a knot that Jacqui Lambie’s starting to find some ground here in Tasmania, then we have some serious issues going on.”
Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz defended the ad, arguing that Tasmanians had voted for a right-wing populist and had instead got someone who votes with the Greens.
ISENTIA DAILY LEADER INDEX
Bill Shorten was mentioned most on social media yesterday while Malcolm Turnbull gained the most mentions across all other platforms — something which has happened quite a few times over this campaign.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE VOTED?
ZINGER OF THE DAY
MALSPLAIN OF THE DAY
Just when you thought that Tony Abbott was being relatively well behaved, that he was biding his time before getting on to the real sniping and undermining after the election, the former prime minister has popped up to criticise Turnbull at the butt end of this campaign. Speaking to Sky News last he suggested that the campaign had not been focused enough on the big issues.
“National security has played almost no part in this campaign, even border security has been just an intermittent visitor to the campaign. I guess if those really big issues aren’t front and centre, less substantial stuff will be front and centre.”
HATERS ARISE TO THE UPPER HOUSE
Adelaide Arise, a controversial group which says that gay people are “detestable” has swung their support behind South Australian Family First senator Bob Day. The religious group, which claims that Adelaide is “the place where all good things start”, has printed 100,000 leaflets admonishing voters to vote for the conservative Senator. Adelaide Arise’s website states that they aim to share “Christian wisdom in response to the many problems that have damaged society” but “since the status of marriage is a current key threat to children, families and the nation, Adelaide Arise is giving high priority to raising concern about that matter”. A prayer on their website, Doctrinal Spiritual Warfare Prayer for the Preservation of Marriage in Australia, says that gay people have “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones”, that they have “sinful desires”, “shameful lusts” and commit “indecent acts”. Bob Day does not have an official affiliation with the group but spoke at their launch, as did Liberal Senator David Fawcett.
BERNARDI MAKES FUN OF THE PATRIARCHY
Renowned third-wave feminist Cory Bernardi has leveled a stinging attack on male privilege. Through an admission that he’s suffering from a “devastating and debilitating ‘man flu'” Senator Bernardi made an implicit point about how, as a middle-class, white male, he is automatically granted a whole suite of privileges not available to other subsections of the community. Not used to having to fight against systemic disadvantage, a common cold was enough to bring the man down. Onya Cory.
NOT OVER UNTIL THE FAT LADY SINGS?
With just two sleeps until election day large sections of the media seem to have called it a Coalition win and have moved on to more exciting things, such as a potential challenge for Labor’s leadership. “Labor sources” have apparently told the Daily Telegraph that Senator Sam Dastyari has openly discussed switching support to Anthony Albanese should Labor lose the election, though Dastyari denied the reports. “Labor sources” have also been talking to Fran Kelly, who suggested on RN Breakfast this morning that to retain the leadership Shorten would have to win at least 10 additional seats on Saturday. For their part, Albanese and Shorten wouldn’t countenance such questions yesterday. Albanese praised Shorten’s performance and said “I back our team”. Shorten called a question on a potential Albanese challenge a “silly question” and insisted that Labor is aiming to win enough seats to form government.
MAL OF THE PEOPLE
One of the joys of any campaign is the rare unscripted interactions between candidates and “real people” in shopping centers and train stations. Who can forget, for instance, one man’s response to Tony Abbott’s greeting “good morning sir, how are you?”: “Dickhead“. Well now Malcolm Turnbull has experienced the ire of the common man. At a train station in Sydney’s south, the PM was confronted by a man who asked him “how can we trust you?”. “I’m not saying you’re lying, but just that you’re a professional politician, and that’s the sort of way that you distort things. Have a lovely day,” he said.
QUIRK OF THE DAY
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm may be against big government but he’s got nothing against big breakfasts (although Crikey didn’t receive any novelty breakfast cereals; not that we’re bitter …)
TWEET OF THE DAY
Weather forecast for Canberra over the next few days: frosty.
Marriage equality rules the day as election day looms. Both Shorten and Turnbull have been busy on morning radio today as they start the sprint to the finish line.