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“Our campaign has heard reports of a number of Monique’s supporters failing to number all of the boxes on the ballot.”
Said a spokesman for Teal Kooyong candidate Monique Ryan following her decision to not allocate preferences on her how-to-vote cards. Ballot papers that don’t have a number in every box are not counted, and Ryan’s team is concerned that informal votes "could end up being in the thousands”. Given other Climate200-backed challengers have done the same, it could be an issue in other tight races as well.
1. PM Scott Morrison has promised “better days” and a shake-up to the government’s approach to superannuation by allowing first home buyers to access their retirement savings to help buy a property.
2. Anthony Albanese says big Labor policies like overhauling child care are 2-term projects. ‘‘What I’m outlining at this election is a strategic framework for the next 6 years,’’ he’s told the SMH/Age.
3. Labor is also talking up Albanese’s business connections, and the Financial Review has checked them out (PW). Qantas boss Alan Joyce, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and Chief Executive Women president Sam Mostyn are 3 who have backed his credentials.
4. The Greens have put together a 7-point ‘balance of power shortlist’ with promises tallying $173 billion (PW). The end to coal/gas mining, free childcare and Medicare-funded dental care are must-have policies on leader Adam Bandt’s wishlist.
5. Former PM Julia Gillard has made a rare campaign appearance, backing ACT Labor Senator Katy Gallagher. Labor’s finance spokeswoman is under pressure at this election from high profile independent David Pocock.
Going deeper: Morrison refines the pitch
There’s less than a week of campaigning to go and 1.6 million Aussies have already cast their ballot at early voting centres, but PM Scott Morrison has changed tack, conceding he can “be a bit of a bulldozer when it comes to issues.”
● “As we go into this next period on the other side of this election, I know there are things that are going to have to change with the way I do things,” he said at a press conference in Melbourne on Friday.
● On Saturday, he doubled down, saying: “Jenny refers to it as the ‘Morrison Men’. My father, my brother and I, we go in and fix things and sometimes when we go in and fix things, people can get the impression that perhaps we are not as aware of many of the sensitivities that can be around these issues.”
● Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s response took a cue from a Katharine Murphy op-ed: “Even Scott Morrison is distancing himself from Scott Morrison.”
What it means: The polls have not been good for the Coalition, and it’s safe to guess that their own research isn’t crash hot either. As news.com.au’s Samantha Maiden writes, some voters give him credit for being experienced, but words like ‘arrogant’, ‘inflexible’ and ‘obnoxious’ also come up in focus groups.
What’s next: Hold onto your hat… it could be a white-knuckle ride to Saturday. Albanese will seek to hang onto the momentum he’s worked hard to build, and Morrison says he’ll "never leave anything on the field".
Housing policies back in focus
Like Albanese did 2 weeks ago, Morrison has made housing policies the centrepiece of his address to the party faithful at the Coalition’s campaign launch. Labor has backed a plan to give Australians over 55yo downsizing their property the opportunity to invest up to $300,000 in their superannuation fund outside of the existing contribution caps using proceeds from the sale. But there’s no consensus on the Coalition campaign launch centrepiece.
● If the Coalition wins, first home buyers will be able to access up to 40% of their superannuation savings – to a ceiling of $50,000 – to purchase a property. The Super Home Buyer Scheme will apply to new and existing homes, and couples can access that amount each.
● Pundits say the policy aims to appeal to young voters while creating a point of difference with Labor over housing affordability.
What it means: COVID has changed things… Some Coalition MPs have long lobbied for something like the Super Home Buyer Scheme, but it got short shrift from the powers that be. But during the dark days of the pandemic, $18.1 billion was paid out under an early release scheme, and minds seem to have changed about diving into super savings before retirement.
What’s next: A wave of criticism from superannuation purists. System architect/former PM Paul Keating said it was “another frontal assault by the Liberal Party on the superannuation system.” And there are concerns the use of super funds will help add to first home buyer demand, pushing up prices.
Getting to know Natasha Fyles
She’s the new Chief Minister of the Northern Territory who was selected by Labor’s 14-member caucus on Friday following Michael Gunner’s surprise resignation last week.
● She’s the 2nd NT-born leader since the parliament’s first election in 1974. She is also the 2nd woman appointed chief minister and the 3rd to lead Territory Labor.
● Entering the parliament in 2012, Fyles is the Territory’s health minister. As for factional allegiances, she’s from the left. Gunner was from the right, so political watchers expect a shuffle of people and policy, particularly when it comes to social and environmental issues.
What does it mean: While some things are expected to change, analysts say it will be hard for Fyles to do much in the short term, given NT’s government debt. And in the couple of years before the next election, Country Liberal Party leader Lia Finocchiaro will be pushing hard to win back support despite the organisational turmoil (PW).
What’s next: The cabinet will remain the same for parliamentary sittings this week. Fyles has been sworn in and adds Gunner’s portfolio of Treasury to the health ministry. A new leadership team and cabinet will be announced and sworn in next week.
Labor’s Anthony Albanese has locked in his National Press Club address for Wednesday, and organisers are waiting on an answer from PM Scott Morrison. Press Club boss Maurice Reilly is said to be optimistic…
The National Farmers Federation has endorsed the Coalition over Labor on an overwhelming majority of its policy priorities. The peak agricultural association will release its election guide today (PW).
Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association is lining up behind Labor’s primary healthcare policies. The peak GP group likes Labor’s commitment to boosting Medicare (PW), saying they will give the sector “a more sustainable future”.
The Liberal Party has requested the AEC look into Labor’s star Parramatta candidate Andrew Charlton’s nomination to run. They say he may be in breach of the rules by nominating a rental property in Woollahra as his address despite having never lived there.
The Australia Tax Office says it will give special attention to work-related expenses as it launches its FY22 tax roundup (PW). Property investors and cryptocurrency traders are also key targets.
Sweden and Finland have confirmed they will apply for NATO membership. The countries have cooperated with the military alliance in the past, but neutrality has long been a point of pride and culture. Russia has warned the expansion of NATO would be "a mistake".
Former US First Lady Melania Trump says there’s a chance she and husband Donald could be back in the White House. “Never say never,” she told Fox News in her first interview since leaving Washington DC.
Hate Crime in the United States
Authorities in the US allege an 18yo man killed 10 people in a racially motivated mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York yesterday. According to the latest FBI stats from 2020, racially motivated attacks makes up 63% of the nation’s hate crimes – and a third of all attacks are against black Americans. Reports say the alleged attacker in this case called out Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant as the person who had done the most to radicalise him.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is in Western Australia
9.00am – Directors of The Star Entertainment Group and its chairman John O’Neill are scheduled to appear at the NSW Liquor and Gaming inquiry – Sydney
12.30pm – Crossbenchers Zali Steggall, Greens leader Adam Bandt, United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly, and Senator Rex Patrick address the National Press Club – Canberra
6.30pm – Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt will outline the minor party’s balance of power plans at the national campaign launch – Brisbane
7.30pm – PM Scott Morrison to appear on ABC TV’s 7.30
Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability public hearing – Sydney
It’s also the anniversary of the death of former Labor PM Bob Hawke (2019)
*All times in AEST unless noted