Hello and welcome to PoliticsNow, The Australian’s live commentary on Day 30 of the federal election campaign. With just eight days to go before the election, both leaders are campaigning in Queensland, as Labor prepares to release its official policy costings.
Top story: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says there are two big holes in Labor’s official policy costings.
Alice Workman 2.25pm: Major flaws in Labor’s costings: Frydenberg
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says there are two major flaws in Labor’s official policy costings — the impact its taxes will have on the economy and its failure to account for increases to Newstart, foreign aid and research funding.
“Labor confirms the $387 billion in higher taxes — higher taxes on retirees, higher taxes on superannuation, higher taxes on family businesses, on homeowners and renters and low-income earners,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“But what the Labor party fails to do in these costings is explain the major and detrimental economic impacts these higher taxes will have across the economy.”
“How many Australians will lose their jobs, how much will their wages fall, and how much will economic growth and economic activity be affected by Labor’s $387 billion of higher taxes?”
2.20pm: Scrutineers podcast live
The latest episode of Scrutineers is now live, covering Labor’s policy costings, famous last weeks of election campaigns, more than 1.5m people pre-polled and Bill Shorten on QandA.
Alice Workman 1.20pm: ‘Labor claims always fishy’
Scott Morrison has questioned Labor commitment to delivering a budget surplus, pointing to the party’s track record in economic management.
“The four surpluses I announce tonight, that’s what Wayne Swan said. The four surpluses. And Kevin Rudd said he would be a fiscal conservative, and he took around $20 billion surplus into a $27 billion deficit in the space of one year,” Mr Morrison said today.
“There’s always something fishy when it comes to Labor’s claims about how to manage money and I think that’s what we’re seeing here again today.”
“They talk about how they’re going to pay extra money for childcare workers, but apparently only half of them?”
When asked whether he could provide a figure on how much the Coalition’s tax cuts to high-income earners will cost the budget, Mr Morrison said he didn’t ask Treasury to break down the cost by income groups.
“I’ll tell you why — because it hasn’t been our goal to move money between different income groups. We’re providing tax relief for all Australians.”
Alice Workman 1.15pm: Pre-polling hits 1.64m
The number of Australians who have made up their minds and voted early has hit more than 1.64 million, according to the Australian Electoral Commission — 10 per cent of the 16.4m people who have enrolled. .
Yesterday, 243,000 people cast their vote across the country.
At the same stage of the 2016 federal election campaign, just over 900,000 people had pre-polled.
It’s estimated that 5 million people will lodge their ballots before the official election day on May 18.
Joe Kelly 12.55pm: ‘Bigger, better surplus’
Labor has argued it will deliver more “realistic” and larger budget surpluses in a bid to trump Scott Morrison’s re-election agenda and committed to a tax ceiling in order to return $200bn in relief to low and middle income earners.
Speaking at Parliament House in Canberra, Labor’s treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said that a Labor government would deliver a surplus in the same year as the government’s planned return to surplus in 2019-20. But he argued that a Shorten government would provide bigger budget surpluses over the forward estimates period.
To read the article in full, click here.
12.15pm: Key Labor costings
We’re about to bring you Labor’s election costings but in the meantime here are some key figures.
Key figures from Labor’s election costings new revenue
* $58 billion over 10 years from dividend imputation reform
* $32.5 billion raised from ending negative gearing on existing properties
* $29.8 billion from changing superannuation concessions
* $26.9 billion from changes to family trusts
* $6.9 billion from cracking down on multinational tax avoidance
* $6.3 billion from the budget repair levy on high income earners
* Labor will also reverse the coalition’s $285 billion long term income tax cuts, but has built in an assumption of future tax cuts at some point
* $59 billion on bigger income tax cuts than the government is promising
* $16.2 billion for extra school funding
* $15.9 billion to make child care cheaper for more than one million families
* $15.2 billion in tax concessions to encourage businesses to take on older and younger workers, and invest in equipment
* $10 billion to better fund TAFEs and universities
* $9.9 billion top up childcare workers’ wages
* $9.3 billion to give pensioners free dental work
* $9.2 billion to build 250,000 new affordable rental homes
* $8.6 billion to make preschool available to three-year-olds
* $4.4 billion so Medicare can better cover cancer costs
* $1.18 billion increase for overseas aid over four years
* $530 million to “restore fairness” to the skilled visa system
* $4.28 billion on infrastructure in the next four years
* $200 million on a plan to get more batteries into homes.
AAP Source: Labor costings document
Elias Visontay 12.00pm: Keneally slams Libs’ UAP deal
Labor’s Kristina Keneally has launched a fresh attack on Scott Morrison’s “desperate” preference deal with Clive Palmer, joking that campaigners for the coalition and the United Australia Party are sharing reversible blue and yellow shirts in an “exchange of workers” between the parties.
Speaking in Cairns this morning, the Labor bus captain showed photos to the media of campaigners for the parties handing out how to vote cards for the other.
“We are seeing more and more evidence that this deal is not just a preference swap. It is actually, frankly, it’s an exchange of wardrobe, an exchange of workers.”
“We’ve seen the photos already. Here we have photos of — we were at the Aquarium and it puts me in a Dr Seuss frame of mind — ‘one fish, two fish, yellow fish, blue fish. From here to there, there to here, funny things are everywhere’.
“These guys — they’re sharing shirts. Think of the inefficiency of this campaign. The volunteers have to go to some back room and change shirts and then come back out, having spent half the day handing out for the Libs, now handing out for Clive Palmer.
“Maybe Mr Palmer could order some of the reversible shirts, like basketball players have, blue on one side, yellow on the other, probably more efficient. He could probably get them made in China. Check that out, Clive.” Ms Keneally said.
The claim of Liberal volunteers handing out material for UAP join a growing library of photographs circulating of campaigners handing out material for other parties.
In the marginal seat of Cowper on the NSW mid-north coast — where independent Rob Oakeshott is challenging the Nationals’ grip on the seat — a campaigner for Mr Oakeshott was seen handing out how to vote material for the Greens.
There have also been several images of Labor campaigners with Greens material, promoting senator Larissa Waters in a Brisbane booth, and putting out a Greens sign in a booth in Hasluck in Perth.
A Labor member in the Brisbane seat of Dickson was also spotted handing out how to vote cards for the UAP on Wednesday.
Richard Ferguson 11.20am: Shorten ‘doesn’t care’ about crossbench
Bill Shorten has refused to choose between his spending promises and a budget surplus if the Senate blocks his tax-raising measures.
“First of all, let’s win the election before we start talking about how we deal with the Senate crossbench,” he said in Cairns today.
“Your question does highlight the danger and the risk of voting LNP or for Palmer party, whatever his latest advertising company is called or, indeed, One Nation.
“If you vote for the small parties or for the Liberal Nationals who rely upon them, chaos, chaos, chaos.”
When asked again how we fund his promises if revenue measures were blocked, Mr Shorten said he did not “care.”
“My conversation is not with the bar scene from Star Wars of the crazy right in the Senate who Mr Morrison is depending on for re-election,” he said.
“I don’t care about them. I will tell you what I think. I’m interested in the voters, in the fact that people are waiting here in this hospital ward to get attention.
“I’m interested not in your question about the Senate. I’m interested in a million Australian households who are battling with childcare.”
Graham Richardson 10.35am: Time for one last go
How times have changed. These days highly paid advisers try to ensure that our candidates for prime minister eliminate all emotion from their performances. Gone are the days when Paul Keating would smash his opponents. Now you can’t show anger. You need to be an emotionally empty vessel.
There is something wrong with anyone who has never had any fire in the belly. It has become conventional wisdom that only emotional eunuchs can succeed in modern politics. I wish more candidates would defy that convention.
When you are running Australia you do not have an easy job. There will naturally be frustration over the daily judgment calls where you can argue an equally convincing case for either side of the debate. That is the case for so many decisions that political leaders must make.
To read the article in full, click here.
Sid Maher 10.20am: Preference flows vital in Leichhardt
The Greens, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, Bob Katter’s party and One Nation are all fielding candidates against Liberal MP Warren Entsch in Leichhardt. So preferences flows this time will be vital.
The Opposition Leader’s visit today shows the seat is on his radar.
If Labor takes this one, Bill and Chloe might as well start measuring up the drapes to The Lodge.
To read the article in full, click here.
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+1.36% swing towards Labor
2016 Election2019 Prediction
Alice Workman 10.10am: Cormann: Labor can’t deliver on costings
Labor’s costings are expected to be released in less than an hour, at 11am.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News he doubts Labor will be able to follow through on its promise to deliver further personal income tax cuts in four years time.
“The government should only take as much as the government needs to provide the services Australians rely on, not anymore and of course, that is the point here, Labor doesn’t know how to manage money, and that is why there are always coming after yours,” he said.
“And that is why any suggestion that somehow after 22/23 Labor would deliver further personal income tax cuts is just ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that by 22/23 a Labor government wouldn’t have spent all of that money and more and put us back into deficit as they have on every occasion in the past since 1989?”
Mr Cormann refused to provide a dollar figure on how much the government’s high income earners tax cuts would cost the budget.
Richard Ferguson 9.55am: Shorten met by Adani protesters
Bill Shorten has had a quick trip to the Cairns Aquarium, but turtles and sawfish weren’t the only ones waiting for him.
The Opposition Leader left the aquarium to chants of “Stop Adani, Save our Future” from young anti-Adani protesters.
Leichhardt is unique among the far North Queensland seats in that tourism and the environment are big concerns here due to the Great Barrier Reef.
Labor is increasingly confident of taking the Cairns seat off the Coalition, despite Liberals feeling more hopeful of holding onto electorates like Capricornia and Dawson due to the popularity of Adani.
Inside, the aquarium was more serene.
Mr Shorten, his Leichhardt candidate Elida Faith, Labor senate leader Penny Wong and NSW Senator Kristina Keneally touched some starfish, waved to divers and marvelled at the water tunnel.
Greg Brown 9.33am: PM ‘pleased’ Singh quit
Scott Morrison says he is “pleased” Scullin candidate Gurpal Singh has resigned after revelations he dismissed rape allegations of a married woman.
“I’m pleased he has resigned, he should have resigned and I’m glad that matter has been put to rest,” Mr Morrison told ABC radio.
“The Labor Party has had to sack candidates as well for having unacceptable views, that would be described as extreme as well. That has been a feature of this campaign. It is part of the Facebook era.
“I have no doubt that in previous times when Facebook wasn’t around then, if there had been a record of everything that every candidate had said you might have seen some similar outcomes.”
The Prime Minister this week defended the Liberal Party for sticking by Mr Singh despite revelations he compared gay marriage with pedophillia.
Greg Brown 8.45am: PM: Hurry up on Adani decision
Scott Morrison has called on the Queensland government to expedite its decision on the Adani coalmine as he puts mining at the heart of his pitch in central Queensland.
Speaking on local radio on Rockhampton this morning, the Prime Minister this morning called on Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to stop playing politics with the controversial project.
Adani is awaiting state government approvals of its Black-Throated Finch Management Plan and Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan before significant work on the Galilee Basin mine site can begin.
“We have fulfilled all of our regulatory requirements that have been presented to us, and we have done that in a professional way. We have relied on the scientists who have examined the proposals and have made decisions on that basis,” Mr Morrison told 4RO radio station.
“The Queensland government should do the same. They shouldn’t be playing politics with this. They should get on with the job and make a decision.
“They keep saying, maybe, no, maybe, yes, maybe. You can’t invest with that type of environment. People need to know whether people are going to follow the rules or not. And if the rules are going to change every five minutes depending on politics then how can people in central Queensland feel confident about their job?”
The electorate of Capricornia is pro mining and held by Nationals MP Michelle Landry on a wafer thin margin of 0.6 per cent.
Labor candidate Russell Robertson is a third generation miner and has signed a CFMEU pledge supporting the Adani project.
Mr Morrison has today pledged $30 million for CQ University School of Mines and Manufacturing in Gladstone and Rockhampton.
Alice Workman 8.25am: Libs ‘missed point’ on independents
Independent candidate Oliver Yates has told the ABC the Liberal party have “completely missed the point” by painting the collaboration of independents as “some form of evil”.
Tony Abbott said on Wednesday that the 15 independents teaming up for a joint ad campaign promising to “work together co-operatively” if they are elected marked the creation of a new climate change policy.
Mr Yates told RN Breakfast this morning that he and the other independents are representing a “missing broad church middle party”.
“[A group of independents] who happen to work together occasionally and cooperatively, isn’t that what parliament was meant to be?”
Mr Yates is running against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the seat of Kooyong which is held by the Liberals on a margin of 12.8 per cent. He says he’s received a position response from locals and predicts the result of the seat will come down to preferences.
Former Liberal turned independent Julia Banks said in her experience an independent has far greater influence and voice than any politician from a major party in parliament.
“It’s taking politics back to a place of integrity … it’s also focusing on the important issues rather than using political game playing to drown out important issues such as climate change,” Ms Banks told the ABC.
Ms Banks said her opponent Greg Hunt was trying to “rewrite history” on climate change, when he was a “signed up conservative” Liberal who supported Peter Dutton.
Alice Workman 8.00am: Landry: PM supports Adani
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry says she believes Scott Morrison is a supporter of the Adani coalmine.
With the Prime Minister in her ultra marginal electorate this morning, the Nationals MP said the controversial project was important for the region.
“I believe (Mr Morrison supports Adani), yes” Ms Landry told central Queensland radio station 4RO.
“He has spoken about it in parliament and he is very much one for diversification and realises that we need a lot of industries to keep this nation going.
“And this is why I get frustrated with the state government because how much money is put into the coffers of Queensland from coal royalties.”
Ms Landry said Bill Shorten needed to be clearer about his position on the project.
“They still can’t come out and say ‘I support Adani’,” she said.
Alice Workman 7.55am: ‘We need to vet better’
Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham says both major parties will have to improve vetting processes in the future, after a Victorian Liberal candidate was dumped over Facebook posts in which he dismissed a woman’s allegation of rape, abuse and violence by her former husband, saying he was the “real victim”.
“I think there is a clear message and it’s one for both major parties to make sure that vetting processes are more thorough in the future,” Mr Birmingham told Nine News.
“I’m sure if the same scrutiny was applied to the rabble of minor parties out there we would find worst messages. This time last week Albo was defending Labor’s candidate in Melbourne, Bill Shorten defended him, but by the end of the day he was gone. It’s been a problem for both sides and we will both have to review this.”
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said “quite clearly there is a problem when you have candidates changing or being removed from endorsement during an election campaign”.
Alice Workman 7.50am: Bowen vows bigger surplus
Chris Bowen says Labor are offering “an alternative not an echo” to the Australian people.
Speaking about the party’s official policy costings, due to be released later today, the Shadow Treasurer said the party would produce a bigger surplus than the Coalition.
“Our [surplus] will be $7.5 billion, the next year theirs is 11 ours is 13, obviously it will grow over time,” Mr Bowen told the ABC’s RN.
“We’ll have $87bn more to pay down debt over the decade.”
Mr Bowen said the party will consider further tax relief for Australians once the budget is back in surplus.
Alice Workman 7.45am: PM releases new video
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has released a new video targeting the NSW South Coast seat of Gilmore, held by the Liberals on a margin of 0.7 per cent.
The video features celebrity Liberal candidate Warren Mundine and promises to deliver jobs for young people to Kiama and the Shoalhaven.
Alice Workman 7.30am: Labor to close tax loophole
Labor has announced more details of its policy to curb tax tricks used by multinationals and millionaires to minimise their income tax bill, in what it’s calling the toughest crackdown in Australian history.
If elected, the Opposition says it will close a loophole, used by less than 0.001 per cent of taxpayers, that allows money to be funnelled out of Australia into tax havens to get lower tax rates.
Closing the loophole will deliver $430 million to the budget bottom line over the medium term.
Labor says it will ensure the “top end of town” can’t use certain trusts to deliberately distribute profits and income to people overseas, and avoid paying the corporate tax rate of 30 per cent. The party says some distributions through these arrangements are to non-residents in tax havens, including the Cayman Islands.
Labor says it won’t impact Australian tax residents.
Alice Workman 6.45am: Labor vows $23bn budget surplus
Labor is expected to promise a budget surplus of $23 billion by 2022, more than twice the Coalition’s $9 billion projected surplus when it releases its much anticipated official policy costings later this morning.
The Opposition plans to make savings of $154 billion over the next decade, by cracking down on what it says are tax loopholes for the “top end of town” Nine newspapers report
The savings will be achieved by five major tax reforms — dividend imputation, negative gearing and capital gains tax, family trusts, multinationals and accountant deductions, and superannuation concessions — and will pay for its funding commitments in health, childcare and education.
It’s expected the parliamentary budget office estimates will also reveal that Labor has around $200 billion to spend on tax cuts beyond the forward estimates. This would give the opposition a tax-to-GDP ratio of 24.3 per cent — the same level achieved under the Howard government.
Sascha O’Sullivan 6.40am: PM vow to cut power prices
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised to cut power prices by 25 per cent in a bid to convince undecided voters in the last week of the election campaign.
Mr Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor have pledged to cut prices down to $70/MWh by the end of 2021, The Daily Telegraph reports.
“While reliability has been a priority for this government, our focus has always been on price and customers,” Mr Taylor told the newspaper.
“I am pleased to announce that a re-elected Morrison government will introduce a price target to accompany our emissions target. The government will target a 25 per cent reduction in the average NEM (national energy market) wholesale spot price to less than $70/MWh by the end of 2021,” Mr Taylor continued.
Mr Taylor said lower wholesale prices would drive down retail prices for households and small businesses to around 25c/kWh, excluding GST, from 30c/kWh.
The coalition’s announcement comes as Labor prepares to release its costings today.
What’s making news:
Refugees on Nauru and Manus Island are hoping a new government will be elected and tough border security policies overhauled, delivering them a pathway to resettle in Australia and New Zealand.
More than 200,000 parents of overseas-born Australians may arrive under Labor’s generous temporary visa, putting pressure on future governments to allow them to stay for good, demographer Bob Birrell has warned.
The Victorian Liberal Party has dumped its candidate for the outer northern Melbourne seat of Scullin, after Facebook posts emerged in which he dismissed a woman’s allegation of rape, abuse and violence by her former husband, saying he was the “real victim”.
A record number of Labor MPs will owe their seats in parliament to the Greens if Bill Shorten wins next Saturday’s election, fuelling claims that the Opposition Leader will be “indebted” to the minor party.
Labor incumbent Cathy O’Toole has preferenced Clive Palmer’s candidate above the Liberal National Party in a desperate bid to hold onto the ultra-marginal Townsville seat of Herbert.
The Greens have directed preferences to conservative independent Kevin Mack ahead of Labor in the close contest for Liberal Sussan Ley’s southwestern NSW seat of Farrer, prompting a warning from Labor candidate Kieran Drabsch.
Malcolm Turnbull has seized on Britain’s move to close its last coal-fired power station, needling Australian politicians over their refusal to come to a consensus on climate change.
A propaganda campaign is being waged against Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party via Chinese government-linked WeChat accounts in the lead-up to the election as Labor signals a more pragmatic approach to Beijing, focusing on bilateral economic ties.
Paul Kelly writes: Scott Morrison is losing and needs to up the ante to become a Liberal Party legend.
Judith Sloan writes: When it comes to the policy hall of shame, there is always stiff competition for the top slots during an election campaign. This campaign has been no exception.
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