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“The risk of being the lone fool was much greater than being one of many fools.”
Macquarie Uni politics professor Murray Goot reckons one of the reasons the polling companies got it so wrong in 2019 is because they "herded together” behind a Labor victory. Goot thinks that risk is lower now, but he’s still looking at Saturday’s election as a bit of a test…
1. PM Scott Morrison is not contemplating defeat or a hung parliament, he told ABC TV’s 7.30 last night. He says he’s got the message about being a more inclusive leader and has urged inner-city residents thinking of voting independent to put Australia’s economic health first.
2. The Coalition will release its election promise costings covering 35 policies today (PW). Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham are upping the pressure on Labor to release its costings, expected later this week.
3. On that, Labor is heading towards larger debt and deficits than the Coalition, but say the extra spending will lift productivity, the Financial Review says (PW). This accords with Labor’s campaign mantra that it’s prioritising the quality of spending over quantity.
4. Morrison has a big problem with women under 30yo, according to the West Australian (PW). Research it has commissioned shows just 14% rated the PM’s performance as satisfactory.
5. Sweden has confirmed overnight that it will abandon its neutrality and join Finland in applying to join NATO. Joining the military alliance responds to Russia invading Ukraine, but it’s not guaranteed with Turkey pushing back.
Going deeper: The cost of housing bringing home the final week of the campaign
Throughout the campaign, there have been many promises from both parties on housing. Economists haven’t loved most of them… mainly because they reckon they just push up the prices of existing houses without adding to the supply. And yesterday, Superannuation Minister Jane Hume admitted the Coalition’s big pitch to first home buyers will "probably push prices temporarily".
● PM Scott Morrison’s scheme will allow house hunters to withdraw up to 40%/$50,000 (whichever is lower) of their super savings to help purchase a property. Couples can each access the scheme, potentially doubling the amount withdrawn.
● The PM says the impact on prices will be "minimal", and first home buyers should be able to access their super savings because "it’s your money, and it should be your home".
What it means: The policy hasn’t gone down well with some… Independent economist Saul Eslake says “he wanted to scream that this reckless inflation of house prices” must stop. And the Grattan Institute’s Brendan Coates says both parties are only “tinkering around the edges” of housing affordability.
What’s next: While a couple of housing schemes have bi-partisan support, Labor doesn’t back the Coalition’s plan to allow access to super. Labor campaign spokesman Jason Clare has called it “kerosene on a bonfire.”
The foreign policy whirlwind for the next PM
Regardless of who wins on Saturday, the first big plane ride for Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese post-election will be to the Quad meeting in Tokyo early next week. It’s just the second in-person meeting for the leaders of the US, India, Japan and Australia, and it’s seen as a key forum to balance the aspirations of a rising China in the Indo-Pacific.
● At the last Quad virtual summit, the group stopped short of condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (because of India’s close ties to Russia), instead settling on support for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
● The Pacific Islands Forum is also being held in Fiji in June. The Solomons/China security pact is a pretty big deal for the whole region, and climate issues are always high on the agenda.
● Albanese has said that Indonesia would be his first overseas visit if he won, but given the timing of The Quad, he will be there if things go his way.
What it means: America’s top official in the region Kurt Campbell has summed up the difficult situation Australia and its allies are now facing in the Pacific and says “we’re just going to have to do better.”
What’s next: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to visit the Solomons as early as this week.
The shifting sands in Europe… Sweden and Finland want in on NATO
It takes a pretty dramatic turn of events to shake a country out of a 200-year history of neutrality – and that’s exactly what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has done to Sweden. The Swedes followed Finland’s decision to apply to join NATO, and the Western military alliance wants to admit them ASAP.
● German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has told other NATO countries there can’t be a "transition period, a grey zone, where their status is unclear".
● Any NATO member can veto an application to join, and Turkey has concerns about both Nordic countries’ support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it considers a terror group
● NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Turkey won’t block the deal because “all allies realise the historic magnitude of the moment”.
What does it mean: Remember, one of the reasons Putin gave for invading Ukraine was its intent to join NATO. What’s happened is he’s supercharged the alliance which could see foreign forces along Russia’s 1,300km border with Finland.
What’s next: Usually, NATO membership would take up to a year. The organisation wants it done within weeks or months, and in the meantime, member nations have given security guarantees to both Nordic countries in the event of any Russian retaliation.
PM Scott Morrison has defended giving Labor only a few hours’ notice of the AUKUS agreement (PW). The Biden administration insisted on bipartisan support before sharing its nuclear submarine technology, and Morrison says it was too sensitive to share earlier.
Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally’s tilt at the southwestern Sydney seat of Fowler is in the ‘too close to call’ bucket, according to the Daily Telegraph (PW). Albanese is expected to visit tomorrow to help shore up the seat for Labor.
High-profile Australian Values Party candidate Heston Russell will be in court next month over a charge of common assault. The former Special Forces commando, who has been a vocal supporter of Afghanistan war veterans, says the accusation against him is unfounded.
The Mayor of Hawkesbury in Sydney’s northwest has been stabbed during an apparent home invasion. Police say 5-6 men forced their way into Patrick Conolly’s home and attacked him in a case of mistaken identity, reports say (PW).
The Fair Work Commission says workers should be able to access paid domestic violence leave every year at their base rate of pay. Yesterday’s historic provisional decision affects over 2.6 million people employed under modern awards and is likely to set a precedent for all workers.
New Zealand has set out the direction of its climate policy for the next 15 years. The Government will help people buy electric or hybrid cars with the aim of making 30% of the country’s fleet zero emissions by 2035.
Former federal Attorney-General Christian Porter is back on the tools. He’s returned to private legal practice and is acting as a defence lawyer in a high-profile Perth gun heist trial, which commenced yesterday.
The official food of democracy might be a sausage… but we reckon it’s perfectly OK to get in on some cake action too. Good on local shop owners for taking advantage of the extra early voting foot traffic.
PM Scott Morrison is in Northern Australia
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is in Western Australia
11.30am – Minutes of the May monetary policy meeting of the Reserve Bank Board are released
11.30am – ABS releases the Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey report, offering insights into the impacts of the coronavirus on Australian households in April 2022
*All times in AEST unless noted