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“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."
Said Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan of one of the things he has in common with Labor leader Anthony Albanese. If it makes them feel any better, virtually no one in politics is as lean or as fit as the South Australian Premier…
1. Labor has maintained its 2-party preferred vote lead of 53-47 against the Coalition, according to the latest Newspoll in The Australian (PW). On primary votes, Labor’s lifted a point to 38% while the Coalition remains on 36%. The poll predicts Labor picking up 10 seats, putting it in line for majority government (just…).
2. Labor also leads the SMH/Age Political Monitor with a steady primary vote of 34%. The Coalition has seen its primary vote cut from 35 to 33%. Polster Jim Reed says: “Over 3-quarters of the electorate are now absolutely committed to their vote, and we’re increasingly seeing people locking in as early voting nears.”
3. Labor leader Anthony Albanese has promised “a better future” for Australia under a Labor government. He launched the party’s campaign in front of 600 party luminaries and supporters in Perth yesterday.
4. PM Scott Morrison will announce a plan to ease the cost of living pressures for 50,000 older Australians today. The Coalition will extend the Seniors Health Card (PW) eligibility by raising the threshold test to $90,00 for singles and $144,000 for couples.
5. Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe needs to “ignore the election campaign and cement the RBA’s independence from politics”. Several analysts have told the Financial Review (PW) that interest rates need to go up tomorrow.
Going deeper: Albanese makes his pitch
You know we’re at the business end of the election campaign when the major launches happen, and the first cab off the rank was Labor ahead of the Coalition’s official get-together next weekend. Aside from getting the good and the great of the party behind the prime ministerial aspirant, Albanese had the opportunity to restart his campaign after COVID took him out of the game last week.
● On the policy front, Albanese pledged to spend $1 billion on developing our resources and manufacturing capacity, more generous subsidies for listed drugs, a process to get better pay for women and help for first home buyers via a government equity scheme.
● He also honed his attack on PM Scott Morrison and the Coalition Government. Focusing on integrity and accountability, Albanese painted Morrison as someone who will “run from responsibility” and treat every crisis as “a chance to blame someone else”. He’ll be different, he says. “I will show up, I will step up, I will bring people together.”
What it means: Albanese is back. And Morrison spent a good part of his party rally in Western Sydney focused on his opponent while claiming underdog status (PW). He says while he’s had to face some of the biggest challenges since the Great Depression, Albanese has been “basically running a criticism of me.”
What’s next: Morrison launches the Coalition’s campaign, also in Perth, next Sunday, highlighting the importance of the state to both parties. If you’re wondering why these ‘launches’ are so late in the piece, they start paying for their transport and accommodation costs after the party in government holds theirs.
There’s good news for those reliant on the PBS
No matter who wins (or draws…) the election, accessing medicines on the official list will become cheaper. A key plank of our health system, the PBS facilitates government-subsidised medicines covering most medical conditions. No matter the cost of the drug, if it’s on the PBS, patients pay $42.50 per prescription or $6.80 if they have a concession card, and the federal government pays the remaining cost.
● On Saturday, the Coalition announced that all PBS medicines would be $10 cheaper for non-concession cardholders from 2023, costing $150 million a year.
● Yesterday, Labor went one better, unveiling a $12.50 reduction meaning the maximum price for PBS medicines will be $30.
What it means: Labor’s plan could save someone taking one medication a month $150 a year, while people will be $120 better off under the Coalition. And with many Australians requiring more medication than that, it will be a welcome relief.
What’s next: Don’t expect a bidding war on health… The Coalition isn’t much interested in fighting this election on what’s traditionally seen as Labor territory – although that measure has tightened since the pandemic.
Look who’s coming to dinner
US President Joe Biden yesterday became the first president since Barack Obama to attend the famed annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. The dinner hadn’t been held since 2019, thanks to COVID, and Donald Trump wasn’t a fan after a bruising experience in 2011. Cue Biden’s first joke about the presidential absence: “We had a horrible plague – and 2 years of COVID.”
● He added that he was excited to be there. “A special thanks to the 42% of you who actually applauded. I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have.”
● Hosted by Trevor Noah, he said he was confused about why he’d been selected for the gig. Addressing Biden, he said the penny dropped when he remembered “you get your highest approval ratings with a biracial African guy standing next to you.”
A high point: Australian reporter Jonathan Swan, who covers politics in Washington DC for digital publisher Axios, won an award for excellence. He is the son of medico/ABC reporter Dr Norman Swan.
Further watching: George W Bush’s address in 2008 – his last in office. The man could poke some fun at himself…
PM Scott Morrison launched the Western Sydney Liberals’ campaign yesterday. Not so keen to stick around was Warringah candidate Katherine Deves who made her way out of the venue with journalists in hot pursuit.
Deves has given her first interview of the campaign, telling the Daily Telegraph that the “silent majority” of Australians support her campaign to protect women’s sport. And she’s called incumbent independent Zali Steggall – a former Olympian – a hypocrite.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned Kooyong locals that a vote for ‘teal independent’ Monique Ryan is a vote for a hung parliament and chaos. In front of 1,000 supporters, the under-threat senior Liberal is going hard on his message that candidates backed by Climate200 aren’t independent at all.
The second leaders’ debate of the campaign will be hosted by Nine on Sunday night at 8.30pm. Political editor Chris Uhlmann, SMH/Age chief political correspondent David Crowe and Nine radio host Deborah Knight will ask the questions, and 60 Minutes’ Sarah Abo will moderate. Seven and the ABC still have bids in.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is promising billions of dollars for hospitals, nurses, paramedics and emergency response services. The state’s pre-election budget to be handed down tomorrow is “an economic agenda as much as it is a care agenda,” he’s told The Age.
British Conservative MP Neil Parish has quit after admitting he watched adult material on his phone twice in the UK parliament. He says he was searching for tractors, and “I did get into another website that had a very similar name and I watched it for a bit, which I shouldn’t have done.”
Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd could be back on speaking terms… Rudd told The West Australian (PW) his relationship with Gillard “is great. It’s good. We are on about one thing – let’s get Albo into the Lodge.”
It’s a funny of business, this election campaign caper… Sound on for this one.
Anthony Albanese is in Brisbane for a Labour Day rally
United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly is campaigning in Cairns and Townsville
8.30am – Qantas CEO Alan Joyce will make an announcement on "the future shape of its network" and provide an update on trading in the third quarter of FY22 – Sydney
9.15am – United Australia Party chairman Clive Palmer to address media on preferences – Paradise Point, Queensland
10.00am – Greens Senator Larissa Waters to launch a gender pay policy at Brisbane’s Labour Day rally
NSW parliament’s annual grilling of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Inspector of the ICAC – Sydney
*All times in AEST unless noted
And today’s quote for the subject line is from poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau.