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“Russian elections are rigged. Political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the political process. The result is the absence of checks and balances in Russia and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq … I mean Ukraine.”
Nervous laughter followed the verbal stumble by former Former US President George W Bush yesterday. He was the man who spearheaded the invasion of Iraq in 2003 on the belief that the country’s leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Condoleezza Rice was in attendance at the speech – maybe that brought old memories back?
1. The major party leaders have a big day ahead as they make their final pitches. PM Scott Morrison is in Western Australia. Labor’s Anthony Albanese starts in Canberra and will get to Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia today.
2. The latest Ipsos poll in the Financial Review shows even more tightening (PW). Labor’s primary vote has fallen 5 points to 36%, and the Coalition is up 3 points to 35%. The Greens are on 13%, One Nation 5%, the United Australia Party 3%, and independent candidates account for 8%.
3. Labor has revealed their election promise costings. There would be a $7.4 billion hit to the Budget bottom line after $18.9 billion in extra spending minus $11.5 billion in savings. The Coalition promises a $1 billion improvement after spending commitments and savings are tallied.
4. Unemployment in April came in at a record low of 3.9%. Great news, but the tight employment market has business advocates asking for more foreign workers to fix the skills shortage problem (PW).
5. The newspaper editorials recommending their election choice are in… Those calling for another term for the Coalition are The Australian, the Financial Review, The Herald Sun, The Courier Mail, and The Advertiser. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and the NT News are calling it for Labor – as is Speckles the psychic crocodile.
Going deeper: So where is this election campaign landing?
It’s nearly time for the candidates to put their pencils down as voters get ready to pick 4.5 million of them up at polling booths across Australia. For the leaders of the major parties, they’ve launched a series of lightning-quick visits to marginal seats across the country as they try to sniff out every vote on offer.
● The debate over who’s the better economic manager bookends the campaign after Labor leader Anthony Albanese stuffed up on the unemployment and interest rates on day 1, and continues to dominate the final days after new wages growth and unemployment landed this week.
● The price tag of their election promises: Labor’s net out at $7.4 billion (that’s $18.9 billion in extra spending minus $11.5 billion in Budget savings). And the Coalition is promising a $1 billion improvement to the budget bottom line (their $2.3 billion in new spending is to be offset by $3.3 billion in public service cuts).
● And the polls: well, after 2019, get your hands on a grain of salt… The ABC has been running an average over the major national polls, and as of last night on a 2-party preferred basis, Labor was on 53.6% to the Coalition’s 46.4%. They’ve tightened, but not by much.
What it means: Take it from election expert Antony Green: "If the overall polls are right, and Labor is on about 53% of the 2-party preferred, I wouldn’t expect there to be a hung parliament if that is the result. If it’s narrower, it’s possible.”
What’s next: Get your drinks and snacks and strap yourself in. It could be quite a ride…
COVID throws the Electoral Commission a curveball
Throughout this campaign, the AEC warned voters that the pandemic wouldn’t make things easy. Officials have been saying that people who tested positive for COVID in the lead up to election day would be able to apply for a postal vote, or there would be a telephone service – with a long wait time. Late yesterday, the reality of the situation revealed itself.
● People who tested positive for COVID before 6pm on Tuesday and hadn’t voted or applied for a postal vote by 6pm on Wednesday may not be able to vote, the AEC confirmed yesterday.
● Polling stations could also be affected because election workers are calling in sick. The AEC put out an urgent call on social media and signed up 5,000 volunteers yesterday, but reports say some booths may not open, and that’s a worry for regional communities.
What does it mean: Reports say around 100,000 voters could find themselves unable to cast a vote between now and when the polls close at 6pm on Saturday night. And with some tight races on the cards – some won and lost on just a few hundred votes – it’s an issue, alright…
What’s next: Monique Ryan, the Teal independent candidate in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong, says she will challenge the legality of the AEC’s position that some people may not be able to vote. That would need to be done in the Federal Court today.
Your TV guide to election night
We were rummaging around looking for a comprehensive election night viewing guide, but we couldn’t find one – so we made it ourselves with details of the hosts, the panels and the special features. But as for which pollies are where:
● ABC – Labor: Tanya Plibersek | Liberal: Simon Birmingham
● Nine – Labor: Bill Shorten | Liberal: Jane Hume | Nationals: Matt Canavan | Former pollies: Kate Ellis and Julie Bishop
● Seven – Labor: Jason Claire, Katy Gallagher, Chris Bowen | Liberal: Michaelia Cash | Nationals: David Littleproud | Former pollie: Christopher Pyne
● Sky – Labor: Joel Fitzgibbon, Murray Watt | Liberal: James McGrath | Nationals: Bridget McKenzie
● Ten – Labor: Ed Husic, Stephen Jones | Liberal: Anne Ruston, Hollie Hughes
What’s new/different: The ABC is promising cutting edge graphics that dig into the trends behind the result. Nine boasts “a state-of-the-art election system” that will help the team behind the Decision Desk make their calls. Seven has the "Screen of Dreams" made famous by CNN’s John King during the 2019 US presidential election. Sky has United Australia Party chairman Clive Palmer "live and exclusive". And Ten is digging into the social media responses.
What’s next: Make sure the batteries in your remote are good to go. Or if you’re looking for something different, SBS is running Celebrity Letters and Numbers…
One Nation’s unvaccinated leader Pauline Hanson reckons she got COVID on a campaign stop earlier last week. "I travel the 5 states around the whole of Australia campaigning but I go to the most locked-down state, last week, to Western Australia, and I got it," she said yesterday. Telling the media she feels like she has a heavy cold, the virus hasn’t dented her fighting nature.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison starts the day in Western Australia
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is in Canberra, and heading to South Australia, Tassie and Victoria
Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is campaigning in the Hunter region of NSW
*All times in AEST unless noted
Today’s quote for the subject line is courtesy of America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.