Good morning everyone and welcome to Tuesday. I kicked off yesterday with some Douglas Adams, so today let’s continue with some sage advice in the face of scare campaigns everywhere: don’t Panic.
What will today be about? Judging by the papers this morning – more Medicare privatisation threats, negative gearing warnings, a little bit of Tony Abbott, and some asylum boat fear.
The big picture
A very ill Turnbull appeared on Q&A last night, flying solo to take questions from the suspiciously Labor policy-informed audience.
Much of it was spent on health and tax and Turnbull continued to assure voters that even if they don’t like how policies like a $50bn corporate tax cut are going, they can vote again in three years.
Following a question from Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, beamed in from Manus Island, Turnbull was asked a rather simple thing by an audience member.
Will the prime minister visit the centres and see them for himself? Turnbull didn’t answer.
What he did do was to remind everyone of the thousands of deaths at sea that have now stopped, the eagerness of people smugglers to relaunch their business model, the sanctity of Australian borders, and the closure of 14 detention centres.
We have been able to restore order, and people smugglers are “itching to get back in business”, Turnbull said.
Turnbull said Australia had seen no “unlawful arrivals” for well over 660 days – which is not really accurate by the way – and congratulated his immigration minister.
None of us have hearts of stone. All of us understand how harsh our policy is in terms of its impact on particular individuals.
Guardian Australia has investigated a little about the impact of the policy on particular individuals (start with this from yesterday). So have Senate inquiries and independent reviewers.
For a large number of Australians it is possible to be glad there are no more deaths at sea, while also disapprove of the treatment of detainees and secrecy around Australian government policy.
And it shouldn’t be too much to ask that Turnbull, should he become prime minister, go and walk among the consequences.
Q&A also cemented that health – and, it follows, Medicare – remains a key election issue. Labor is unlikely to stop its push for ‘a referendum on Medicare’ come polling day, no matter how many proposals the Coalition rolls back.
It’s still a bit of a mystery whether the idea to outsource the payments system ever went to cabinet. The government says no.
“I’m in cabinet and I can tell you there’s never been a proposal come to cabinet to change the IT arrangements around Medicare ever,” said Christopher Pyne on 7.30 last night.
The question of why the letter was then kept from an FOI release because it was “cabinet in confidence”, will likely continue to bolster the opposition.
The former prime minister Tony Abbott has noticed a “slight sympathy factor” while campaigning in his home seat of Warringah, he’s told the Australian.
“I’ve had detractors as well as supporters,” Abbott said. “I have been seen as a divisive figure, even in the electorate at times, and there seems to be much less of that now than previously.”
He’ll continue to push for “conservative liberal values” within the party, but seemed to rule out making a return as leader.
“The party has well and truly moved on from the Abbott era.”
The Daily Telegraph is citing “the first independent economic modelling” when it splashes that, actually, negative gearing will be terrible for people.
The report says Labor’s policy to scrap negative gearing and halve the capital gains tax discount would result in a drop in investment returns of 10% over 10 years, equating to about $20,000 for the average “mum and dad” investor.
On Q&A Turnbull also addressed the question of a marriage equality plebiscite.
Penny Wong warned late yesterday that a plebiscite on marriage equality could put the issue out of reach in the same way that a referendum put becoming a republic out of reach.
At the moment the Coalition is promising a plebiscite on marriage equality. Labor is promising to legislate for marriage equality if it wins government and drop the plebiscite, warning it could provide a forum for hate speech.
The Greens are also against a plebiscite but neither they or Labor have said whether they would support or block a plebiscite bill.
Speaking of the Greens, Fairfax has tipped a win for them in the seat of Batman. A robocall poll of 1,600 people predicts a win for candidate Alex Bhathal with a primary vote of 41% against incumbent David Feeney’s 28%. Feeney was elected on 41.3%.
In South Australia a Reachtel poll for the CFMEU predicts the Nick Xenophon Team candidate, James Stacey, is in a position to take the South Australian seat of Barker from the Liberal party (based on a two-party preferred vote).
On the campaign trail
Turnbull is in the Northern Territory today, attending the formal return of title deeds to traditional owners of the Kenbi land claim. The claim – over about 52,000 hectares of land on the far side of Darwin harbour – was the longest running official claim, clocking in 37 years before it was officially settled earlier this year.
Shorten is back in Melbourne after spending yesterday in Perth.
The campaign you should be watching
Let’s stick in the territory for the moment. Solomon – the NT’s “city” seat to the rural/outback Lingiari – is on a knife edge.
Incumbent CLP MP Natasha Griggs, who holds the seat with a 1.4% margin, is fighting off Labor candidate Luke Gosling.
Neither have had a great week. Griggs made headlines when protesters filmed themselves heckling her at a market. She didn’t like it, confronted the person filming and *somehow* the phone ended up on the ground.
Gosling for his part, was among the cohort of ex-defence members running for office, who were told off for wearing their uniform in campaign material.
And another thing
Not long ago some comments by Barnaby Joyce connecting the ban on live exports with an increase in asylum seekers on boats from Indoniesa raised eyebrows so far some people pulled muscles.
On a fascinating Four Corners last night, which looked at his battle with Tony Windsor for New England, Joyce was asked about it.
His response was essentially: you can’t win with the media.
“When you are more open, when you do discuss things, you get pilloried for it,” he said.
“When I speak my mind you [the media] ridicule it, and when I speak in the garbled media … rubbish, you say I’m not authentic.”
• Join Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy in Melbourne as they host our Guardian Live election special event featuring a panel of prominent political guests