What we learned today – Sunday 1 May
I only learned today that Gangajang are the artists behind 80s hit This is Australia. But there were far more important learnings (yes, we all hate that word), including:
- Labor’s policies on housing, medicines, electric vehicles, manufacturing, and gender equality were released. Get Katharine Murphy’s take on Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s campaign launch.
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg launched his campaign – and he says his opponent’s mother-in-law is on his side.
- Are independents really independent? Paul Karp looked into it.
- A GP shortage means vulnerable Australians are missing out on health care.
- The Pork-o-meter has been slicing and dicing more data, and found sports promises are topping election spending.
- And a gorgeous new, rare frog species has been discovered. But is it too late?
We’re into the second half of the campaign! It will only ramp up from here, so join Amy Remeikis and the rest of the team tomorrow, and hold on for dear life.
He’s not a powerful orator; he lacks the velvety intonation and the X factor. He didn’t seek to dominate the room; he sought connections in it, looking for faces, reactions, cues.
Katharine Murphy (again! She’s all over everything today!) on today’s launch:
And some pictures from today’s Liberal party rally in Sydney:
Here’s some of the colour and movement from today’s Labor campaign launch, courtesy of AAP:
Royce Kurmelovs brought you some of the Coalition’s reaction to Labor’s housing plan for shared equity earlier. Katharine Murphy has pulled it together for you here:
The New South Wales government will give Ukrainian refugees free Opal cards with credit as they begin to rebuild their lives.
Transport and veterans minister David Elliott said the NSW Government initiative would provide 250 Opal cards, worth more than $50,000. He said:
Australia stands with Ukraine in its fight for its territorial sovereignty, and its right to peace and democracy.
This State has a proud history of supporting our new migrants and refugees from around the world, and we have welcomed more than 2,500 Ukrainians seeking refuge with open arms.
To leave a life behind to seek safety and shelter in a new country can be very difficult, and providing these Opal cards is a small gesture to help them travel to important meetings and appointments such as medicals, community support groups, and religious services.
Multiculturalism minister Mark Coure said this is another way the NSW Government is alleviating the stress, uncertainty, and anxiety Ukrainians may be experiencing. He said:
We are also continuing to work with the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, Settlement Services International, and Federal Government to help Ukrainians not only find safe haven, but gain access to education and healthcare.
On top of that, we have also partnered with the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) to expand its services for those affected by the conflict.
There have been more than 260 funding announcements for new sports facilities in marginal seats according to a new data analysis from Guardian Australia.
Sport-related promises dominate the announcements from both parties, accounting for one-third of Labor’s seat-specific announcements so far and 15% of the Coalition’s announcements.
This makes it the most common announcement category for Labor, and the second most common for the Coalition after infrastructure.
The “sport” category covers any promise relating to sports facilities, infrastructure, team funding, and so on.
The majority of these announcements are in marginal seats, with 70% of the Coalition’s sport-related announcements benefiting a marginal electorate. Labor’s promises are similarly skewed, with 53% going towards close seats.
Check out the full story for the complete analysis.
Over the last few weeks the government has attempted to stop the release of several documents that may prove damaging to its re-election chances.
Independent Senator Rex Patrick says the government is launching an eleventh-hour effort to prevent the release of document about its treatment of Timor Leste during boundary negotiations.
In the Australian Capital Territory, 823 new Covid cases were reported today. There are 69 people with the virus in hospital, and three in intensive care.
In Western Australia, 5,551 new Covid cases were reported. There are 221 people in hospital with Covid in the state, and seven in intensive care.
Also at Josh Frydenberg’s campaign launch:
Earlier today, treasurer Josh Frydenberg spoke at his campaign launch for the seat of Kooyong. He’s under threat in his Melbourne seat from independent Monique Ryan. AAP reports that, amid criticism that he has ignored his electorate, he told the crowd he was “first and foremost... a local member”:
Over the last 12 years, every day I’ve woken up and asked myself, ‘What can I do to support my community?’
According to AAP he said Ryan’s mother-in-law had told him she was voting for him: “She said ‘because you know what you’re doing and you’re a nice person’.”
Frydenberg accused his independent opponent of being “funded like a political party, organised like a political party, running on the Labor party platform”.
Ryan, who wants more ambitious action on climate change and a federal integrity commission, will debate Frydenberg in a Sky News event on Thursday.
South Australia reports two Covid deaths, and 3,070 new cases
Two people have died in South Australia, and 3,070 new Covid cases have been recorded, with 229 in hospital, and 16 in intensive care.
The Labor policies announced today
Katharine Murphy has everything you need to know about Labor’s policies from today, but here’s a neat dot point list AAP put together (helpfully saving me the effort):
- The Help to Buy scheme will provide an equity contribution of as much as 40% of the purchase price of a new home and up to 30% for an existing dwelling for 10,000 Australians.
- The scheme enables savings of up to $380,000 for new homes and $285,000 for existing ones, with price caps of between $550,000 and $950,000 depending on the state and region.
- Australians will be able to buy an additional stake in the home, owned by the federal government, in 5% increments or pay the government back when they sell.
- Homebuyers will avoid lenders mortgage insurance but still need a 2% deposit and to qualify for a standard loan.
- Australians with a taxable income of up to $90,000 for individuals and up to $120,000 for couples can access the scheme.
- The scheme will cost around $329m over four years.
- Labor will also establish a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council.
- Medication on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme will be cut by $12.50, bringing the maximum price of listed medicines to $30.
- Labor will build more electric vehicle charging stations across Australia through a $39.3m investment, matched by the NRMA.
- Up to $80m to deliver up to 16 hydrogen stations on Australia’s busiest freight routes.
- Many electric vehicles will be exempt from import tariffs and fringe benefits tax.
- Labor will double the driving the nation fund to $500m, allowing the commonwealth to coinvest in additional EV chargers, as well as hydrogen and biofuels refuelling infrastructure.
- Labor will use $1bn as part of its $15bn national reconstruction fund to develop value-added products from Australian resources.
- Minerals like lithium and nickel used in batteries will be processed in Australia.
- One in every 10 jobs on federally funded worksites will be filled by apprentices or trainees.
- Gender pay equity will become an objective of the Fair Work Act.
- The Fair Work Commission’s powers to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female-dominated industries will be increased.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd asks fellow former PM Paul Keating what it’s really like to be flogged with a warm lettuce:
The inimitable Katharine Murphy was in Perth for Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s campaign launch:
Jason Clare is asked if changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax could help with housing affordability. He says Labor is not considering any changes, and that the party will keep Coalition changes to save people paying mortgage insurance:
The policy we announced today is helping Australians on a lower income, $90,000 or less, $120,000 if they are a couple, who otherwise would not buy a home because they cannot get the mortgage to buy a home.
And he says it’s “good to have the captain back on the field”, referring to leader Anthony Albanese’s release from iso and today’s launch.
Labor’s Jason Clare confirms that the housing policy for shared equity would start on 1 January if Labor won the election. Grattan Institute research shows the plan will not contribute to the overheating of the market, he says.
There would be policies in place to deal with cases where owners could no longer make repayments, he says, and an independent evaluation if a property had to be sold.
“I think we can win Boothby,” Peter Malinauskas says of the marginal Liberal seat in SA, but concedes it will be tough. Asked if the SA result will translate federally, he says there are state issues surrounding health service delivery (such as ambulance ramping) but that health is still a national focus.
And he says he will fight the Coalition’s deal to deliver more GST revenue to Western Australia and argue SA’s case.
SA premier Peter Malinauskas is talking to the ABC now, off the back of his big win in the state.
Malinauskas says federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s speech was a speech from a future prime minister:
You’ve gotta have a vision for the future. There were significant policy announcements ... [and] we are in a unique time. The nation wants to know what is the legacy of Covid going to be and I think Anthony and the team have a vision for that.
It’s a different election to 2019, he says.
Penny Wong is asked about the security agreement between Solomon Islands and China, and Manasseh Sogavare’s speech last week. She says there were aspects she didn’t agree with, and accuses the Coalition of being “dismissive of climate change” when Pacific leaders say it’s their number one national security issue:
I do not agree with the way in which Mr Morrison has taken his eye off the ball, and I do not agree that he has been a prime minister who has consistently looked to national interest – I think he has played to domestic politics over and over again.
Labor senator Penny Wong is asked if there’s a conflict between the idea of Labor as a party of reform and the idea that it offers “safe change”.
Unsurprisingly, she disagrees:
I do not think that is correct ... We have said very clearly that powering Australia matters, tackling climate change, cheap energy, making sure we got the capacity to generate new advanced manufacturing, doing more manufacturing here in Australia, and of course childcare reform and aged care. So there are plenty of reforming policies in the announcements today.
People have had a tough couple of years, Mark Butler says, and they’re looking for “safe change”:
It’s a particularly difficult mountain to climb ... but we’re up for this challenge.
There’s a “real mood for change” in South Australia, Mark Butler says, when asked about Labor’s chances of winning the marginal, Liberal-held seat of Boothby.
On blowouts in the NDIS and Labor’s proposed overhaul of the system, Mark Butler says:
What we will do is make sure that this reflects the hope and ambition our government has, and people with a disability have, to make sure the plans put in place with a properly staffed agency give them the hope and the opportunity to participate in Australian life.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s pitch today was that he will step up and take responsibility, he says.
Labor’s health spokesperson Mark Butler is talking about that reduction in prescription medication payments. He agrees with the ABC’s Andrew Probyn that people weren’t getting the medicine they needed because of the cost. He says it’s a core issue of equity:
It would take effect on the first of January. The costings will be released ... but this is a fully costed policy.
They “can’t do everything”, Butler says when asked about why Labor isn’t planning to change the Medicare safety net.
Anthony Albanese has a strong finish – with nary a croak nor quaver, which is pretty good considering he only just got out of iso. He finishes saying:
Vote for an Australia that recognises the privilege of sharing our vast continent with the oldest continuous culture on earth.
Vote for a country that celebrates our success as a multicultural nation.
Vote for an Australia that believes the doors of opportunity should be open to every Australian, no matter where you live, who you pray to or who you love.
Vote for hope and optimism over fear and division.
“They don’t think, they know,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese says of prime minister Scott Morrison. His appropriation of French president Emmanuel Macron’s phrase gets a very warm welcome from the crowd. He says:
I think people know all about Scott Morrison, they have worked him out. Australians ... understand that we cannot bet our future on the three more years of a prime minister who looks at every challenge facing our country and says, ‘That is not my job’.
Labor will legislate an integrity commission, he says:
And – as your prime minister – I won’t run from responsibility.
I won’t treat every crisis as a chance to blame someone else.
I will show up, I will step up, I will bring people together.
I will lead with integrity and treat you with respect.
Labor will also create a national housing supply and affordability council which will, among other things, cut red tape. (Cutting red tape is always on the election campaign bingo card.)
Now Anthony Albanese is talking about the home equity scheme, called “Help to Buy”:
A national shared equity scheme that will provide an equity contribution from the commonwealth government for 10,000 aspiring homeowners on low and middle incomes, every year.
If you have saved 2% of your deposit, we will contribute up to 40% of the purchase price of a new home or 30% for an existing home.
Help to Buy will assist Australians to buy a home with a smaller deposit, a smaller mortgage and smaller mortgage repayments.
We can do better than this. So much better than this.
We will look after the young, we will look after the sick, we will look after our older Australians.
No one held back. No one left behind.
Albanese's aged care pledge: 'Older Australians deserve dignity and respect'
Anthony Albanese is getting a lot of whoops and hollers as he talks about aged care:
It is economic reform not welfare that grows the economy. Older Australians built this great nation. You deserve dignity and respect in your later years, not neglect. More carers, more time to care. A pay rise for aged care workers. Tastier, more nutritious meals for residents. New accountability and reporting measures, so that every dollar we invest gets better care, not bigger profits. And critically, Labor will put the nurses back into nursing homes 24/7.
He gets a good laugh for saying prime minister Scott Morrison only offers “smirk and mirrors”.
“Labor will always protect Medicare,” Albanese says, hitting one of the hot button points for Labor.
[And] we will bring the principles of universal, affordable and quality service to childcare and to aged care.
Childcare is unaffordable, and “the neglect in aged care is just unconscionable”, he says.
Albanese has consistently cited his mother, who brought him up on her own in a council estate, as one of his biggest influences:
Now, growing up, my mum always told me that a good education was my ticket to a better life. Education remains the most powerful weapon we have against disadvantage and the best investment we can make in the future of our country. That is why we’re going to fund university places and 465,000 fee-free places at public Tafes. And we will create a new national authority – Jobs and Skills Australia – to ensure that the needs of the labour market can be met by Australians, a growing economy with more skilled workers for more good jobs. That is my vision.
“Women workers” have had a tough time, Albanese says, and need more than thanks and applause:
Care workers are the arteries of our nation, our region, as it is, our suburbs. We must give them the respect and give them the investment that they deserve.
Albanese says on that gender pay equity pledge mentioned below:
If you want to represent the whole country, best not to leave more than half of the country out of it.
Albanese is setting out five key policy areas, and there’s some detail on each of them. I’ll do a summary first, then revisit each in a bit with some more context.
Albanese says Labor will spend $1bn in a national reconstruction fund to process lithium and nickel into electric vehicle batteries. There will also be a a focus on infrastructure investment, a focus on secure work, and a pledge to make gender pay equity an “objective of the Fair Work Act”.
'You'll be able to drive an electric vehicle across the country': Labor pledges charging stations
Labor will build more electric vehicle charging stations, closing the gaps in the network, Albanese has announced:
That means you’ll be able to drive an electric vehicle across the country.
(And yes, you can drive on the weekends too, he says, getting a laugh after the Coalition said EVs would mean the end of the weekend.)
Labor to cut cost of medications on PBS by $12.50, Albanese says
Anthony Albanese says Labor will reduce the cost of medications on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme by $12.50, “making it cheaper for general patients”.
(The Coalition announced a $10 reduction.) Albanese says that means the maximum cost for PBS medicines will be $30.
Albanese says being in isolation for the past week was “not ideal” but it gave his team time to shine:
It also gave me a moment of sympathy for Scott Morrison. Do not worry, it passed quickly. You see, I know I can count on Penny and Richard, Katy and Jim, and so many others to make the argument for Labor. But who has he got? Alan Tudge and Peter Dutton. The unspeakable and the unthinkable. And then of course, there is Barnaby Joyce, the inexplicable.
You can choose a future where Australia makes things here again, a stronger, more diverse, more self-reliant economy. Or a government which dared the car industry to leave our country ... You can vote for more secure work, better pay, and meaningful help with your cost of living, or a prime minister who says, ‘It is not my job to lift wages.’
You can choose a government that seizes the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower, driving new industries, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in other regions, and acting on climate change. You can choose a government that recognises that national security is above politics, and invest in cyber security, energy security, [and] defence capabilities. You can choose to restore integrity to politics, to [end the waste and the rorts] ...
I know Labor can do better, and I know Australians deserve better.
Albanese addresses Labor campaign launch: 'You can vote for a better future'
Labor leader Anthony Albanese clears his throat (remember, he is very recently out of isolation), and begins by greeting the crowd, with a special nod to Peter Malinauskas:
My fellow Australians, in just 20 days time, you can vote for a better future, you can choose cheaper childcare, stronger Medicare, and fixing the crisis in aged care. Or, you can have more of the same.
He also says the Coalition “dared” the car industry to leave the nation, which is an interesting throwback to 2013, when then treasurer Joe Hockey taunted Holden (who did subsequently leave the country).
I’m embarrassed to say I had to look up the artist behind This Is Australia. Anyway, it’s Gangajang. Here’s what the National Film and Sound Archive say about it:
Released as a single from GANGgajang’s self-titled debut album, this song became their most recognisable track. Written by Mark Callaghan to capture the culture shock of moving from England to Bundaberg, Queensland, it incorporates many of the iconic sights, sounds and smells of Australia. The single peaked at No. 35 on the Australian singles chart in February 1986. While the song has been a constant feature of GANGgajang’s live shows, it has also featured as Nine Network’s station ID promotion in 1996, and in a Coca-Cola commercial.
Anthony Albanese is the “real deal”, Mark McGowan says:
I have known Anthony for a long time. He is one of the most senior and experienced figures in the nation. He is resilient. He is authentic. He is the real deal. He has boundless energy. He is a fundamentally decent person, driven by empathy and a deeper sense of civic responsibility, and I have every confidence he will make a fine prime minister, and a great partner for WA.
And now there is a terrifying, deep-voiced narration about Australia’s woes.
And Albanese himself hits the stage, accompanied by This Is Australia.
“There are no Liberal states, or Labor states,” Mark McGowan says (this may come as a surprise to some):
All around the country, there are only Australian states with men and women who want to see governments that care about what they care about – quality jobs, quality healthcare, a protected environment and a bright future bought them and for future generations. This campaign, we are talking to these Australians.
He’s talking up WA’s success, saying it comes from strong Labor economic management.
And he’s also brought up Clive Palmer. This must play well in the focus groups, painting the Coalition as in cahoots with the United Australia party founder.
Mark McGowan gets much applause as he greets the Labor elders, and refers to leader Anthony Albanese as “the next prime minister of Australia”. He says he has much in common with Albanese. They caught Covid on the same day, they both have poodles ... and:
Both of us had been on a diet for some time and lost a fair bit of weight between us, but no matter how hard we work at it, neither of us looks like Peter Malinauskas.
(If you don’t get that reference to the SA premier, just Google his name and “swimming pool”).
“Albo” didn’t make up his own nickname, Clare says, and summarises Labor’s pitch thus:
No one is held back, and no one is left behind.
And then he introduces WA premier Mark McGowan.
The crowd is adoring Jason Clare. He makes a joke about the government’s failure to legislate a federal integrity commission. We have to make sure corrupt politicians can’t get off “Scott free”, he says. He gets good giggles for:
A government that thinks all you need to do to win the trust of a Pacific nations is play the ukulele. And thinks climate change is what happens when you check out the April sun in Cuba!
And a prime minister who thinks that there’s no problem with corruption in his government. While sitting there in his cabinet are more smoking guns than a Clint Eastwood movie! A prime minister who thinks his job is to dress up pretending to do other people’s jobs. This bloke is all tinsel, no tree. Nothing about this bloke is real, except his ability to let you down.
Jason Clare’s taken on the attack dog role, having a crack at prime minister Scott Morrison over the trip to Hawaii, bushfires, floods, inflation and even “forced handshakes”.
He also says the lack of growth in wages is something Morrison did “deliberately”:
This bloke is all tinsel, no tree.
Wong lists Labor’s achievements before handing over to Jason Clare, who’s been a standout performer of late. She says:
It is Labor governments that have changed this country for the better. Medicare, the NDIS, accessible education, universal superannuation, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Racial Discrimination Act, native title, the apology to the stolen generations.
Wong on Albanese: 'The toughest of fighters, kindest of hearts'
Penny Wong describes Anthony Albanese as a clear-eyed optimist:
The Albo I know is a man of courage and conviction. The most steadfast of friends. The toughest of fighters. And the kindest of hearts. I know no one braver for his cause. No one more reliable when you need him. He will stand with you when it is easy and when it is hard. Because he is driven by belief and compassion and integrity.
To call him a people person would be underselling it. There’s nothing quite like turning Albo loose in a full room and seeing just how much he thrives on the energy.
Wong’s first point is that Labor will implement the Uluru statement from the heart.
“Who governs matters,” she says, before tracing the tribulations of the past couple of years:
The smoke of the black summer fires had barely cleared when Covid-19 reached us. And we were thrown into a new reality of lockdowns, masks and QR codes. We worked from home and set up classrooms around the kitchen table. We had Zoom meetings, Zoom drinks ...
(Wong gets a chuckle from the crowd, and continues.)
We had sad times, too. Tragically, we had Zoom funerals. Families and friends were separated. Livelihoods were lost. And industries were ravaged by a combination of the pandemic and deliberate government neglect. Australians in insecure work felt the brunt, older Australians in aged care homes were left vulnerable. And then the floods came. Yes, the worst of times brings out the best in Australians. But, too often, their strength has not been matched by leadership. And as the world at home shifted, so, too, did the world beyond. And we feel those reverberations today. Russia continues its brutal war on Ukraine. And closer to home, developments in Solomon Islands remind us that complacency can exact a heavy price.
Geez, that deliberate “deliberate” was ... deliberate.
“We’re more than a party, we are a movement,” Zaneta Mascarenhas says. “No more pitting mate against mate or state against state.”
(Please forget the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years.)
And she’s introduced Labor senator Penny Wong.
The Labor candidate for Swan (Liberal-held, marginal), Zaneta Mascarenhas, is up now. There’s rapturous applause as she welcomes all the Labor luminaries.
She’s highlighting her experience in the mining industry, followed by her work on climate action. That’s one of the tricky lines politicians of all stripes have to tread.
Sandra Harben, a Noongar woman, thanks former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating for “starting the healing of our country”:
The Noongar rainbow serpent, the creator of the Noongar people and law ... gives the Noongar meaning to the foundation of life, because it created the beautiful Swan River. The beautiful part which Noongar says represents the body. The place where Noongar people crossed to the Perth city. And the bend of the river where the Optus Stadium now stands.
The ABC reports that former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard hasn’t been able to get back for this launch – and of course deputy leader Richard Marles has been taken out by Covid.
Now it’s the welcome to country, before this critical moment for the opposition.
I’m pretty sure the hectic beat in the background at the imminent Labor launch is Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head.
Election will be an 'absolute squeaker', Jim Chalmers says
The election will be an “absolute squeaker”, Jim Chalmers says. “It’ll go right down to the wire.”
He’s also hinted that there’ll be an announcement about making medicines cheaper, after the Coalition promised a $10 cut to prescriptions.
The ABC’s Jane Norman asks Labor Treasury spokesperson Jim Chalmers about whether tax changes should be part of addressing housing affordability. He says:
My view is that this [Labor’s shared equity plan] is the best way, combined with the other policy, social housing, affordable housing and some of the other steps that we’re taking.
The ABC is reporting that former Labor leader Bill Shorten is at the campaign launch (it would be remarkable if he weren’t) and that he’ll be joined by former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating. So there’s some star power from the past. South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas is also there – his big win in the state election is providing some inspiration to the opposition.
Geez, hard to campaign when you’re in hiding:
Labor has learned the lessons of 2019, where it took “too much” to the people, Katy Gallagher says. Andrew Probyn asks if there’s “too little” this time around:
No, I don’t think so. I think what we’re trying to do is tailor down into the key areas – renewable energy, childcare, aged care, a future made in Australia. Those areas. And we have a story to wrap around that about the country we’d like to see, the government we’d like to lead with Anthony. So yeah, we’ve done a lot of work and we are ready. But we’re not taking anything for granted and I think, honestly, there’s a long way to go in this campaign.
“We’ve gotta make sure we’re selling our message,” Katy Gallagher says. She’s asked if Labor will flesh out more of its cost-of-living policies today. She says:
Wages aren’t keeping up. So yes, cost of living is probably the number one issue being raised with me and my colleagues and yeah, our policies are tailored to that.
The ABC’s Andrew Probyn asks her how Labor’s housing policy will tread the fine line of helping people into the market without further heating the already red hot housing market. She says:
It’s a scheme that’s worked in other states, and we think it’s a sensible and measured way to look at whether we can support more people into housing at that area whilst people are conscious about the level of debt that they take on.
But it is a balance. That’s why it’s 10,000 houses a year. You know, we’ve taken all of those issues into consideration and we think it’s a sensible way forward.
Labor’s campaign spokesperson Katy Gallagher is talking to the ABC. There’s a lot riding on this campaign launch, and Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s performance. Gallagher says:
Anthony loves sporting analogies and it’s great to be here. He always said that he wanted to kick with the fourth quarter in there. But there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of pressure on the campaign. The launch gives us the opportunity to sell the message that’s the choice presented at this election. Anthony is in great shape. He’s excited about this launch today and I think that you’ll get to see just the sort of prime minister that he would be if we were successful in May.
Josh Butler did this excellent piece on online jokes and their role in election campaigning and I cannot get the Very Hungry Caterpillar image out of my head:
Burke is talking about Labor’s decision to have the campaign launch in Perth, instead of one of the more usual east coast destinations. He brings up perennially popular premier Mark McGowan, and the Coalition’s support of United Australia Party’s Clive Palmer, who tried to sue WA for $30bn.
Some wider context to that brief rallying cry from Scott Morrison:
Scott Morrison speaks at Sydney rally
Prime minister Scott Morrison is speaking at a rally in Sydney. He says the Coalition has helped first homebuyers get access to finance (obviously in response to Labor’s announcement today about shared home equity). Then he’s spruiking the economy.
Morrison does a neat little shout-out: “Because unemployment is at?”... he cups his ear, the jubilant crowd shouts back: “Four!” and he says, “Did you hear that, Anthony?”
Tony Burke says the focus of Anthony Albanese’s speech will be on cost-of-living pressures, and Labor’s theme that the cost of everything is going up except wages.
On the Labor plan to help with home equity, Sky News reporter Andrew Clennell asks Burke whether tackling negative gearing would be a more effective way to deal with housing affordability.
Erm, yeah, we’ve moved on from that policy that scared the horses last election, Burke says (I am very much paraphrasing here).
Labor’s Tony Burke is talking about what leader Anthony Albanese needs to do at his campaign launch today. He says he’s spent time with him this morning:
Today you’ll hear a speech from a leader who’s willing to step up.
Queensland records 5,333 new Covid cases and no deaths
Queensland has reported that 446 Covid patients are in hospital, with 14 people in intensive care – but no deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours.
5,333 new cases were detected.
The final question is about the campaign overall being about “small ideas” and “small announcements”. Scott Morrison:
These are not small issues and what we are talking about today – I don’t know what kitchen table you’re sitting around – but the one I sit around talks about what’s going on with social media and our kids.
And if people don’t think that’s a big issue, wake up. Because you’re not living in the real world. In the real world, buying a house, dealing with the anxiety and pressures that your children face at school and online and their trolling and bullying that takes place, that is the big issue that young people face today and if people don’t think that’s a big issue, fine. Think it all you like, but I know it is and I will keep focusing on that. Thanks very much.
Scott Morrison is also asked about what the Coalition will actually do to ease cost-of-living pressures. He says:
The Labor party think they have got some sort of Harry Potter wand that you can just wave in government and it changes the price of a lettuce.
Yes, we’re back to the lettuce. Sorry.
Scott Morrison is asked about his support for Liberal candidate Katherine Deves, who is running for Warringah and has faced relentless revelations of anti-trans comments she has made. A journalist asks:
Given that LGBT kids have among the highest suicide rate in the country, how you can stand here today and say it’s your mission to bring down suicide rates while supporting comments that are deemed harmful and could actually raise rates of suicide in young teens?
Morrison says there are two issues, trans women playing sports and those comments (this is actually the same issue). He says:
Fairness in sport, women and girls in sport is an important issue, where I think there are commonsense solutions. That’s what we are focused on with that. On the other matter, in terms of what Katherine Deves has said in the past she has withdrawn those [comments] and she said they were insensitive and that was my view as well. So there is no suggestion that I have supported those earlier comments. I don’t support those earlier comments.
In election campaigns, everyone always wants to be the underdog, and Scott Morrison says the Coalition is that dawg in this race:
Not every decision that I have made will be popular. Not every action that we have taken has always worked. But what Australia can say after that period of time is we have one of the strongest economies in the advanced world, we have an unemployment down to 4%, we have a strong economic plan to continue that into the future. And we have been able to guarantee the essential services Australians rely on and increase our investment, particularly in areas such as this in mental health and ensuring we have strong laws to protect Australians online.
It’s quite a combative press conference.
And on the upcoming G20 in Indonesia, which Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will attend, Scott Morrison says there are “many sensitivities”:
We are very concerned about sitting across a table from someone who has been pretty rightly accused of war crimes.
The Bali summit will be held in November. Morrison adds: “We don’t know what the situation will be [bv then].”
The prime minister has also been asked about footage of him texting during an Anzac Day service. He says:
It was the end of the service, and I was hoping to be able to spend some time at the service meeting a lot of people and so I was checking the time of my next appointment. That seems perfectly reasonable.
Scott Morrison is defending the government’s housing plan, in response to questions about whether programs including homebuilder just push up the prices of homes:
On the homebuilder program – that was building new homes. Not existing homes. That was grants for new homes, as you know. Buying – it’s tough but they are doing it. And when you combine that with a 5% and it’s a 2% deposit for those who are a single parent, then that is saving them years and years and years.
Now, no one can promise every Australian – no government can promise every Australian that [buying a home] is going to be something they are all going to be able to do. Australians understand that. But what we have done with the home guarantee scheme, with the first home SuperSaver scheme, what we have done with the homebuilder scheme, what we have done with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, we have made it a bit easier than it would ordinarily have been. And that is true and there are 300,000 Australians today who can say that’s true.
PM attacks Labor housing policy
Scott Morrison says Labor’s plan for housing affordability is a money grab. (Which is an interesting claim, considering the government’s money is ... all our money):
They will have equity in your home and as that – your equity goes up, they are going to keep it.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s Katharine Murphy on Labor’s plan:
Erin Molan (journalist and daughter of Liberal senator Jim Molan) has talked about her own experience of online abuse. She says the government’s plan will use social media for good instead of evil:
And what it does is force these big tech companies and these platforms who do not care about the welfare of those in their platform, they have shown that time and time again, they do not care. If you are waiting for them to care you will be waiting a long time. You need to force them to care. And that’s what these laws do.
Bit of background: the new funding includes $5.5m for Batyr, part of which is $3.8m to expand a free app to help young people deal with mental health issues. Here’s the government’s announcement:
- A $23 million eSafety Schools package to raise awareness of the eSafety Commissioner’s support across every school in Australia, provide training programs for teachers, new and improved online safety resources for schools and enhance the Trusted eSafety Provider Program that connects schools with external online safety providers that meet high standards.
- Ensuring smartphones and tablet devices have strong parental controls installed that are easier to find and activate (particularly when first setting up a device) and harder for kids to bypass, through a binding industry code under the Online Safety Act. If industry doesn’t act within 12 months, we will regulate to force them.
- $10 million for the eSafety Commissioner to further expand coordination with other regulatory and law enforcement agencies, ensuring victims ‘tell-us-once’ and are supported into the right service, so they spend more time recovering and less time in bureaucracy.
- Legislating the Social Media (Anti-Trolling) laws to ensure social media companies are held accountable as publishers and Australians are given more power to deal with harmful defamatory comments from anonymous trolls.
- Supporting online safety in multicultural Australia by earmarking $2m under the Online Safety Grants for projects that support women and girls in CALD communities.
Communications minister Paul Fletcher says if standards are not followed within a year, the government will step in:
We want to make this easy. We all know when we set up a new tablet or device that it’s all very smooth in terms of seeing the things that big tech wants us to see, we want to make sure parental controls are in there as well.
So it’s easier for parents to ... set time limits on the amount of screen time that a child can have on the device and we’re using again the tough new powers that we put into the Online Safety Act, which passed last year, which provides for industry codes but then if a code is not reached then the e-safety commissioner... has the power to set standards.
Scott Morrison has also announced $23m for school e-safety initiatives:
[That] will improve the online safety capability of schools, teachers, students across the country. Many schools are just not equipped to deal with cyber bullies. And that’s not their fault, it’s a complex and weird world to operate in. And people find it hard to understand and they need to be given the support and the resources and the tools to help them deal with it, to help their students.
It covers everything from raising awareness, poster, flyer, teacher training programs and teaching resources and for students as well. We will also be ensuring that tech companies install stronger parental controls on smartphones and tablet devices.
Prime minister Scott Morrison says dealing with online risks to youth mental health is one of his “great missions”.
He is offering up a $3bn plan to deal with youth mental health and suicide, and $5.5m for the youth mental health organisation Batyr.
The rules of the real world must apply in the digital world.
The fallout from the South Australian election continues with voters in one state seat expected to go back to the polls at the same time the federal election is being run.
The Adelaide Advertiser reports the seat of Bragg is expected to go to a byelection two months after the decisive state election that swept the governing Liberal party from power.
Former attorney general Vickie Chapman announced last month that she was resigning from parliament despite being re-elected at the state election.
Though she set the date for her retirement as 31 May, speaker of the house Dan Cregan has since ruled the state’s constitution means an MP’s resignation is effective as soon a resignation letter has been received.
With Chapman’s resignation effective immediately, voters in her electorate will go back to the polls in a runoff.
Greens announce LGBTQ+ equality plan
It’s been a morning for political announcements – and we’re not done yet.
The Greens have announced their LGBTQ+ equality plan this morning that proposes to create a minister for equality along with a raft of anti-discrimination protections.
Coalition outlines e-safety plan
The federal Coalition says it will prioritise e-safety protections for children, women and families online if re-elected by passing anti-troll legislation and ensuring “strong parental controls” are available on devices in schools.
Scott Morrison said in a statement on Sunday that the online world “cannot be a cowards’ cavern where the rules of the real world do not exist”:
Our kids should be able to learn, be entertained, or connect with their friends and family without facing abuse, humiliation or online predators. Big tech and social media giants must be held to account. Our plan will force them to do more – they cannot create it, and wash their hands of all consequences of it.
The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, said the “online world should not be an ungoverned space”:
The internet has brought incredible benefits for us all, but we will continue to remain vigilant to protect our children from some of the toxic harms they can confront when online.
The plan includes:
- A $23m eSafety schools package to raise awareness of the eSafety commissioner’s support across every school in Australia, provide training programs for teachers, new and improved online safety resources for schools and enhance the trusted eSafety provider program that connects schools with external online safety providers that meet high standards.
- Ensuring smartphones and tablet devices have strong parental controls installed that are easier to find and activate (particularly when first setting up a device) and harder for kids to bypass, through a binding industry code under the Online Safety Act. If industry doesn’t act within 12 months, the Coalition will regulate to force them.
- $10m for the eSafety commissioner to further expand coordination with other regulatory and law enforcement agencies, ensuring victims “tell-us-once” and are supported into the right service, so they spend more time recovering and less time in bureaucracy.
- Legislating social media (anti-trolling) laws to ensure social media companies are held accountable as publishers and Australians are given more power to deal with harmful defamatory comments from anonymous trolls.
- Supporting online safety in multicultural Australia by earmarking $2m under the online safety grants for projects that support women and girls in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Labor shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers told Nine’s political editor Chris Uhlmann the test of any Labor government was whether wages grew during the first term of government:
The test is if we can make a meaningful difference in wages growth, we have a plan to do it. The government has washed its hands of the cost of living.
Chalmers also attacked the government over the national debt:
We have to be responsible. We will be inheriting almost $1tn in debt with nothing to show for us it. So we have to make a meaningful difference.
Chalmers said the Labor government “has a plan” for cheaper childcare and house prices – which is becoming something of a theme.
Meanwhile, Labor leader Anthony Albanese and shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers have been doing the rounds this morning.
Albanese spoke to Sky News this morning, where he was certainly playing to the home crowd:
Western Australians often feel, understandably, the east coast doesn’t give them the respect they deserve.
And over the last few years about how the Australian economy has kept going, WA and Queensland in particular have done exceptionally well to keep people in jobs.
And here in WA, when the prime minister was referring to cave people scratching their heads, saying, oh, hang on, we’re going to school, we’re going to work, we’re going to the pub, we’re going to restaurants, we’re going to work, we’re contributing to the national economy, the resources sector is continuing to boom, it’s good here in WA.
Albanese didn’t offer much in the way of policy detail but hit all the campaign themes and pitched to undecided voters:
We can do better than just three more years of the same.
David Speers finishes by trying to pin Adam Bandt down on the Greens’ position to an Indigenous voice to parliament.
Speers asks whether the party will campaign against a referendum to establish the body. Bandt:
We won’t be blocking action on voice, but truth and treaty need to be on the agenda as well and in the next parliament, we will be pushing for that to happen, just as it has in Victoria.
The interview is proceeding at pace, and Adam Bandt has covered housing issues but now David Speers is pushing the Greens over the security pact between Solomon Islands and China, and specifically about comments by Jordon Steele-John that the criticism of the Solomon Islands is “racist”.
Speers asks Bandt: “Who is being racist?”
Let’s look at the issue: is rising tensions in the region between the United States and China an issue including for our security? Yes, it is. And is there something that we can do about it? Yes, there is. We can have an approach that prioritises stability in the region and the de-escalation of conflict and our primary concern at the moment is that the government is taking us down the road of escalation.
On climate change, Adam Bandt says the major parties are not doing enough:
We are going into an election where we are facing a climate crisis and Liberal and Labor are basically fighting with each other to say, “No, we will open more coalmines.”
The world scientists are pleading with us to get out of coal and gas and, at this election, Liberal and Labor are saying they will open 114 new coal and gas projects. That is criminal.
David Speers is pushing Adam Bandt about how the federal budget will be $50bn better off under the Greens’ plan to shut the coal industry in eight years.
Bandt answers by saying it will work by ending subsidies to fossil fuel companies, redirecting that to schemes designed to growing green manufacturing and the minerals to support them and through better multinational tax schemes.
More details here:
Lisa Cox covered the Green’s climate policy in detail when it was launched late last week. You can read all about it here:
Adam Bandt is asked about what does this mean for communities like those in the Hunter Valley, where coalmining is the backbone industry:
I’ve spent a bit of time in the Hunter and Newcastle, going to places like Singleton and saying, here is our plan to ensure as we switch off out of coal and got to do to tackle the climate crisis, we need to do it a way to looks after people, job-to-job plan. A subsidy to take own workers from the coal industry, employ them at the current wage earnings and the government will step in and pay those wages.
Greens leader Adam Bandt is up next on Insiders and the first questions is about the party’s plan to end the use and export of coal within eight years.
Bandt says his party has “a fully costed plan” that will fund the closure of the coal industry by ending subsidies to fossil fuel producers and instead spending that money to support coal workers as they transition:
We have launched a comprehensive plan to get out of coal in that time-frame, which is what the science requires, and our 10-year plan saves the budget $52bn over 10 years, in part because we are going to end the handouts to the big coal and gas corporations and put that money into building renewable energy. Our plan will create 805,000 jobs and save the budget money. It is no longer a question of cost. It is a question of how much can we save.
PM vows further safety crackdown on 'big tech and social media giants'
The Labor campaign launch comes as the prime minister, Scott Morrison, returns to the issue of online safety, AAP reports.
Morrison will start his campaign day in the Labor-held seat of Parramatta, Where he will talk about the Coalition’s blueprint to improve online safety.
Big tech will be required to build enhanced safety controls into their devices that are easy for parents to use and hard for children to bypass.
The eSafety commissioner would work with Apple, Samsung and others to design device settings and a binding code under the Online Safety Act.
If the industry does not create these controls within 12 months of the government being returned it would move to force companies to comply with the regulations.
Interesting comments from the panel right now, discussing coal and asking whether there needs to be clarity about the future of the industry.
James Campbell, national weekend political editor for the Sunday Telegraph, says neither party wants to talk about the issue and neither really understands its own policies like the safeguard mechanism:
I think at core neither side really wants to talk about that at this election.
When it’s pointed out the safeguard mechanism is fairly simply “if you emit too much stuff, you will have to pay a penalty and that’s designed to stop you emitting the stuff”, Campbell says he doesn’t believe the average voter understands how it works.
The Guardian is full of explainers about this. So it can’t be that well-known. I mean, if you – I imagine if you walk down the street and said, ‘What is the safety mechanism?’, people wouldn’t know.
Which I choose to interpret as praise for Guardian Australia’s climate coverage.
The conversation turns to the security pact between Solomon Islands and China, with Speers asking Birmingham directly whether China is interfering in the Australian election.
He says that is a “matter for our intelligence analysts and others who would be no doubt monitoring these matters very close”.
Birmingham is then asked whether the Solomon Islands security pact was “a deliberate attempt at interference in the Australian election” and about comments from the prime minister that the construction of a Chinese military base was a “red line”.
Well, the prime minister was acknowledging the statements of the United States had made there as well in relation to the unacceptability of that outcome. And that may necessitate other basing or operational decisions that the US or other partner countries might need to make into the future.
And that’s it.
There’s another exchange where David Speers pushes Simon Birmingham on claims about Labor’s safeguards mechanism, which the Coalition have tried to paint as a “sneaky carbon tax”.
Speers asks Birmingham: “If it’s so sneaky, can you tell us what have businesses had to pay?”
Birmingham says he “doesn’t have the figure to hand”.
Insiders host David Speers is doing a good job of pushing Simon Birmingham on claims made without evidence. He asks what evidence there is for Birmingham’s claims about “Labor’s plan to gold-plate electricity transmission”. The finance minister says the government has “undertaken analysis” but, when asked whether he could provide it, Birmingham doesn’t answer.
Simon Birmingham is pushed on what the Coalition will actually do on the cost of living but there isn’t a clear answer. See this exchange with Insiders host David Speers:
Q: So essentially to get wages going is to keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last nine years?
David, our plan is a comprehensive economic plan and in contrast to the Labor party. We have outlined clearly plans for … that jobs growth. Jobs growth fuelled by lower taxes and tax relief for Australians that continue to be implemented in terms of lower income taxes, support for more businesses.
Q: More of the same, basically, doing what you’ve been doing?
David, it is a plan that we’ve outlined in quite a lot of detail, compared to ...
Q: But I’m right. There is no new plan to get wages going, are there?
If you look at this year’s budget, small business, a particular focus in relation to investment in technology …
Asked about whether the Coalition might take inspiration from policies being introduced by state governments, Simon Birmingham says it would be “waste” for the federal government to “duplicate those measures”:
The approach we’ve taken is to fix a particular problem in the housing market and that was the fact that you had to save, of course, for your deposit, takes months and months, years and years, to get that 20% deposit to avoid having to pay mortgage insurance, that was meaning that people were having to pay rent at the same time as saving.
So in other words the Coalition’s plan is to make it easier to access debt finance, a policy which may have worked well when inflation was zero or near-zero and interest rates had fallen to match.
Bizarrely, Simon Birmingham is at pains to describe Labor’s housing policy as one where Anthony Albanese will part-own your home:
I think our policies are working, it is helping now really lift the rates of first home ownership, it is delivering outcomes for Australians and importantly you get to own your own home. You don’t have Mr Albanese at the kitchen table with you owning part of your home with you.
It goes without saying that’s not how financing works – or that when you take out a mortgage, the bank technically owns your home ...
Finance minister Simon Birmingham speaking now as he attempts to pour cold water on Labor’s housing plans with a stream of numbers:
Our policies have proven to be working. We saw 160,000 new first homeowners into the Australian market last year. That is up from a five-year average of around 100,000.
It is showing strong growth in relation to first home ownership, and so we are expanding our first homeowner as guarantee to 50,000 places per annum, versus a Labor policy that is of 10,000.
Our policy is about ensuring that Australians get to own their own home. Labor’s policy is about the government owning parts of your home with you.
And it’s Sunday, so you know it’s time for ABC Insiders where finance minister Senator Simon Birmingham and Greens leader Adam Bandt will be making an appearance.
The issue today is the eye-watering cost of housing and the cost of living, with competing plans for prices and social housing.
With the Labor party looking to build enthusiasm with its launch in Perth today, there is no official word yet about when the Coalition will hold its own launch.
Next Sunday would have been a good moment as the country enters the closing weeks of the campaign but, with a leaders’ debate organised for that day, the prospect of an election launch seems unlikely.
The alternative is for the Coalition to wait until the bitter end and hold its launch in the final week of the campaign in an effort to convince undecided voters to go with what they know.
This would be a risky gambit as there would be little time to correct course if something went wrong.
Been busy? Work or family taking up all your mental bandwidth? Checked out of the campaign and need a catch-up so you can maintain the illusions of having kept up with events?
Amy Remeikis has you covered with her wrap of all the major events from week three of the federal election campaign.
Think of it as the SparkNotes for Australian politics.
NSW reports five Covid deaths and 9,303 new cases
Five people with Covid-19 have died in New South Wales overnight, with the state recording 9,303 new cases on Sunday morning, 1,604 people in hospital, and 75 in ICU.
Victoria reports seven Covid deaths and 7,654 new cases
Seven people with Covid-19 have died overnight in Victoria. The state recorded 7,654 new cases on Sunday, with 437 people in hospital, 30 in ICU and three on ventilation.
We’re picking up the live blog once more on this fine Sunday morning when all eyes will be on Western Australia as Labor prepares to officially launch its campaign – into week four of the 2022 federal election race.
The state was the scene of a rout for the Coalition at the last state election, which left the WA Liberal party holding just two seats in the state’s lower house. Now the federal government is on the defensive in the west, pitching to voters they can have both Labor premier Mark McGowan and Scott Morrison as PM.
So it’s hardly surprising federal Labor wants to make a show of their launch in Perth. It’s hoping Swan (on a 3.2% margin), Pearce (5.2%) and Hasluck (5.9%) could fall with a swing just one-third as big as McGowan’s.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese is expected to announce a $329m housing initiative for low and middle income Australians during the event, which will kick off about 1pm AEST. Guardian Australia’s political editor Katharine Murphy is on the ground in Perth to bring all the latest news and analysis.
I’m Royce Kurmelovs, taking the blog through the first part of the morning, with Tory Shepherd taking over mid-morning to bring you the latest political twists and turns.
With that, let’s get started ...