WHO WON THE CAMPAIGN?
Bernard Keane, Crikey politics editor: Bill Shorten. In April, Shorten had a –14 net disapproval rating; in May it was –10; now it’s –2. Turnbull in the same period has marked time, hovering around a 0 net approval rating. In April, Turnbull led Shorten by 22 points as preferred PM, now he leads by 11. Labor has improved its positive attributes and reduced its negative attributes more than the Liberals. Shorten’s problem was always that Turnbull had such a big lead as preferred PM and needed to pick up so many seats that he was always likely to fall short, and that’s likely to be the result tomorrow.
Dr Dennis Glover, veteran Labor speechwriter and fellow of Per Capita think tank: Who won the campaign? Just look at the candidates yesterday: Turnbull looked like a man reprieved; Shorten like someone who’d just seen the judge pull out the black cloth. As I have been writing throughout the campaign, the promises made in this election were essentially meaningless, providing little guide as to what each party would do in office, but we did get a sense of the BIG PICTURE: the Liberals for big business, Labor for the rest of us. Labor supporters should take something from this, even should they lose, which seems likely. If their party is to survive in the coming era of economic and political upheaval, it needs to develop a broadly social-democratic story that is popular, optimistic about the future and held with real conviction. That’s what it always has when it wins. The election showed it hasn’t got that story yet, just a series of policies united by a rather weakly spun thread of egalitarian logic and polling data. The Liberals, who released almost no policies throughout the campaign, still won because even if people don’t like what the Liberals stand for, they sense they stand for it with unwavering firmness. The Liberals have a story. It’s fading, but in the absence of a coherent alternative it still works.
Dr John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader: Finally, finally we are almost there, but despite all the campaigning, pork barreling, ads and scaring not much has changed according to the polls and the betting odds. All three — LNP ALP and Greens — still on the nose, Xenophon influence hard to judge in SA and beyond, WA reflecting poor standing of Barnett,GST etc. Expect pluses and minuses with net win to Turnbull but a still significant “rump” in Senate making government difficult.
Dr Zareh Ghazarian, political scientist, author and media commentator: We had two solid campaigns. Turnbull was in the box seat all along, so the Coalition’s campaign never had to be anything other than risk averse. Making the economy central to its message ensured the Coalition’s campaign was focused and defined. Labor, on the other hand, had to go out and try to win from a long way back. Shorten eschewed the small-target strategy often associated with oppositions and presented a range of policies on government service delivery. Shorten proved to be an effective campaigner and he ultimately won the campaign; it was expected he would, as it was unlikely Labor could suffer the problems of 2013 again. A long and lacklustre campaign has come to an end. It has suited the Coalition though Labor was far from disgraced.
Jane Caro, author, social commentator and communications consultant: I think Bill Shorten won the campaign by a mile and I think both he and Malcolm know it. This does not, of course, mean the ALP will win the election but Shorten has outperformed everyone’s expectations. His strategy was strong and (for an election) had some integrity. The ALP went out early with its signature policies — Gonski, negative gearing, equal marriage — and it revealed its full costings even though doing so gave ammo to the Libs. That has gained respect. But Bill himself has really performed on the campaign trail. He’s been patient, articulate, accessible, and seems candid. He has also — and this is most important of all — looked like he is having a blast. Poor Malcolm appears to campaign through gritted teeth. Shorten has united the ALP and brought it back from the electoral wilderness in a remarkably short time. Mind you, like Democrat US Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, he has benefited from the greatest of all political gifts – low expectations. Malcolm has been burdened with the opposite.
Ben Eltham, political correspondent for New Matilda: Labor has won the campaign, particularly, from a policy perspective. The ALP campaigned on a surprisingly positive platform and advanced some big-picture ideas for the future of Australia. The so-called ‘scare campaign’ over Medicare was in truth a robust defence of public health, and there were some innovative policies to combat inequality, reform negative gearing, curb the market power of oligopolies, and improve productivity through better education. It looks as though Labor won’t convince enough swinging voters in the marginal seats to win office, but Bill Shorten has certainly proved a more effective and enthusiastic campaigner than many gave him credit for (including me). If Turnbull wins by just a few seats, there won’t be a lot of political capital to spend in his second term. Labor will have plenty of incentive to hold a divided Liberal Party to account. If a hung Parliament ensues, all bets are surely off.
The final day of the campaign generally isn’t when big money is thrown around, so today’s cash tracker is as bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Let’s recap the campaign: The Coalition started slow and kept to their conservative values by spreading a series of smaller promises over the eight weeks. Their biggest spending happened in the days around their campaign launch and they made their only savings promise this week (although it was a big promise). By contrast, Labor spent big early which prompted the Coalition to taunt Shorten with the phrase “spend-o-metre”. However, they also made some significant savings promises along the way which means the final numbers aren’t as radically different as people might think and their long term plan to return to surplus has been independently costed.
Malcolm Turnbull: The end of the campaign sees Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney where he’s made an “ironclad guarantee” that Medicare will remain publicly owned. Turnbull continued his warnings against voting for minor parties and independents, suggesting his key concern isn’t a Labor majority, but the very real prospect of a hung parliament which he clearly feels could stop him forming government. Turnbull joined local Liberal MP Craig Laundry to speak at the Robotic Automation company in the electorate of Reid, where he spoke at length about the strength of the Coalition’s economic plans and the stability his government can offer. Curiously, despite bringing the media along with him, he refused a doorstop, saying he’d done a lot of media already during the campaign. But then one was quickly scheduled when the media started kicking up a fuss.
Bill Shorten: The final day of campaigning and the opposition leader has reduced the campaign message to, “Medicare or Malcolm, you can’t have both”. He repeated this message to Jon Faine on ABC radio where he flatly rejected the idea of forming a coalition government with the Greens, but said he’d negotiate with them to pass legislation. Then he spoke to Neil Mitchell on 3AW where pointed to the fact he’s been able to unite the Labor party since 2013 as evidence that he could lead a stable government. Shorten joined his deputy, Tanya Plibersek at an NDIS roll-out event where he spoke about the “cause for hope” the scheme gave to people with disabilities. The rest of his day will be spent blitzing a number of key marginal seats in Sydney, he’s set to appear at Parramatta, held by Labor, then Macarthur, Barton and Banks, held by the Liberals in a last attempt to sway swinging voters.
The Greens: Richard Di Natale, meanwhile, has hit the city of Melbourne once again, where it’s clear the Greens believe they can make some serious gains. He’ll be in Adam Bandt’s seat of Melbourne which they’re expected to retain, Higgins, which they are a chance to steal from the Liberals, and Melbourne Ports, which they hope to pinch from Labor. He held a press conference where he began with a cheeky dig at Malcolm Turnbull by declaring, “There has never been a more exciting time to be a Green.” He talked up the Green’s policies on asylum seekers and the environment and gave a big plug to local candidates Jason Ball and Alex Bhathal who could be joining him in Canberra later this year.
The political status quo is set to change with a record number of independent candidates set to contest the 2016 federal election. A bitter pill for Malcolm Turnbull, who is still warm favourite to win on Saturday, but called the election because he was fed up with the Senate crossbenchers. Now he might return to office with even more headaches than when he started. Let’s take a moment to see where a few of the independents sit on election eve.
Derryn Hinch declared it was a Shakespearean election, “a pox on both your houses” (it’s actually, “a plague o’ both your houses” but whatever). Passing over Mercutio’s final words, polls show the self-confessed human headline is a very real chance of sitting in the Senate after this election, although he confesses he’s still unsure about the ABCC legislation which triggered this election in the first place.
Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have been a huge thorn in the side of the National Party during this campaign. Being Deputy PM seems to be enough to get Barnaby Joyce over the line against Windsor, but not by much, while Oakeshott might actually pull off an upset over Luke Hatsuyker. Should he be successful, we only ask that he trim his victory speech down a bit this time.
Andrew Wilkie is set to return as an independent Tasmanian, he spent much of the campaign attacking Barnaby Joyce over live exporting.
Cathy McGowan also looks set to spend another term in parliament, she’ll be feeling much better after election oracle Antony Green predicted she’d have a comfortable win over Sophie Mirabella this time.
Pauline Hanson: Is going to make the next Senate look like an anachronistic Salvador Dali painting when she makes her expected return to the national political stage.
ISENTIA DAILY LEADER INDEX
The media mentions are rising across the board as we count down to the final moments. Turnbull once again has the biggest total, Shorten did very well in social media, and Di Natale’s numbers are up, although still well behind the big two.
ZINGER OF THE DAY
MALSPLAIN OF THE DAY
POLLS APART? NOT TODAY
On the eve of the election, the polls are pointing to an uncertain outcome, Newcorp’s Galaxy poll gives the Coalition a slight edge at 51-49 after preferences and suggests they will hold enough of the marginal seats to ensure victory. However, a Fairfax-Ispos poll shows the two parties locked at 50-50, but participants stated preferences give Labor a 51-49 lead. Essential also has a late swing towards the government. Labor’s primary vote is sitting at a fairly low 33%, compared to the government’s 40%, but preferences are expected to flow much more towards Labor. This is probably the reason Turnbull has been so harsh in his criticisms of minor parties and independents in the late stages of campaigning.
GAFFE OF THE DAY
Julie Bishop has delivered a spectacular gaffe on the final day of the campaign, a brain fade from a minister who has performed well over the last eight weeks, and indeed the last three years.
QUIRK OF THE DAY
Any time, any place, every vote. Might be hard to fire up the barbecue at this polling station in Antarctica, maybe a cup of hot cocoa instead? Good thing we use those little pencils, because the ink would freeze up pretty quickly out there. At least it’s not raining. Unlike the rest of Australia, voting in Antarctica is not compulsory because with so few people there, it’s difficult to guarantee the secrecy of your vote.
Turnbull’s final message is that a vote for any kind of independent or minor party is a vote for chaos, in other words he doesn’t seem to think a Labor win is likely, but he has real fears of a hung parliament or a chaotic Senate. Shorten blitzed the key Sydney marginals in a last attempt to win over the undecided voters. Di Natale is backing his Melbourne candidates to make some historic gains this election.