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"Let us have the courage to look reality in the face. Let us be faithful to the values of freedom, equality, fraternity and secularism. Let us continue to love the Republic and all that it entails. Let us love our homeland.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has been sworn in for a second term and is promising a new approach. His second mandate officially begins on 13 May. Meanwhile, the left is getting organised for next month’s parliamentary elections… The Socialists, the Greens, and the Communists have formed a historic alliance under the leadership of radical left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
1. Another Monday, another Newspoll from The Australian (PW)… Labor has stretched its primary vote lead (39%) over the Coalition (35%). And on a 2-party preferred basis, Labor is up a point to lead 54-46.
2. And a new Ipsos poll is out this morning for the Financial Review (PW). Labor’s primary vote is 35% (up one), and the Coalition has fallen 3 points to 29%. On 2PP, Labor leads 52 to the Coalition’s 40, with 8% of voters undecided.
3. “Messy”, “incomprehensible", and “the Jerry Springer of leaders’ debates" – are all terms that have been used to describe last night’s leaders’ debate. Viewers declared it a draw.
4. Labor is set to announce a $146 million policy to lift teaching standards, fix staff shortages, and improve student results. It includes payments to 5,000 high achieving students to do teaching at uni.
5. US First Lady Dr Jill Biden has visited Ukraine. She met with Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska, who had not appeared in public since the Russian invasion began on 24 February.
Going deeper: The election campaign gets loud
A robust exchange about the nation’s future or knock-down-drag-out mess – last night’s 2nd leaders’ debate turned up the volume on the election campaign. Nine says 170,000 viewers who registered their vote online (if they could get through…) called it a draw. Labor won the other measures, including better PM and which party is likely to win the election.
● On the substance, the pair went at it over the rising cost of living, energy policy and integrity in politics emerging as the big themes. PM Scott Morrison returned to his key campaign line that the election is a choice between himself and Labor leader Anthony Albanese – he believes when put like that, it’s a no-brainer. And for Albanese, it was Morrison’s character and judgment that he kept coming back to.
● But on the style, the leaders’ exchanges were at times ugly and confrontational. Moderator Sarah Abo struggled to maintain control, and there were times when everyone was talking over each other, making it a difficult night for many viewers.
What it means: We’ll get a look at the ratings today, but don’t expect these debates to shift large numbers of voters. The Financial Review says (PW) only 30% of voters tuned in to one of the 3 debates in 2019. This election, it’s expected the downward trajectory will continue.
What’s next: Get ready to saddle up again on Wednesday at 9.10pm for ‘The Final Showdown’ on Seven. Political Editor Mark Riley will moderate, and questions will come from The West Australian’s Federal Political Editor Lanai Scarr and 7NEWS political correspondent Jennifer Bechwati.
Religious discrimination makes a campaign appearance
When PM Scott Morrison is taken to task for not delivering on his 2019 election promises, he’s reminded that there is no integrity commission, and there aren’t religious discrimination laws in place. The first has been canvassed quite a bit in the campaign, but the 2nd hasn’t been front and centre – until the weekend.
● NSW Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg told an Equality Australia forum last week that he was sorry the Sexual Discrimination Act (SDA) had not been amended to protect school students from moves against them based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
● He says the Coalition hasn’t abandoned plans to do it, but it’s his view that it should be dealt with at the same time as the creation of protections from religious discrimination.
● PM Scott Morrison spent a good bit of yesterday’s press conference explaining that his government sees the issues as 2 separate things to "be dealt with sequentially". He says there is “no evidence” of gay students being expelled from religious schools.
What it means: It’s a divisive issue within the Liberal Party. Remember: in February, 5 moderate MPs crossed the floor to support Labor and other crossbenchers’ push to change the SDA. The legislation was then scuttled in the Senate when Bragg said he would reject government moves to oppose the amendments in the upper house.
What’s next: All of those 5 Liberal MPs a facing tough fights for re-election in their seats – but they haven’t changed their positions on the issue. Expect the issue to come up if/when Morrison swings by on a campaign stop.
Ready, steady, vote – starting from today
We’re less than 2 weeks from election day, but voters can cast their vote from today at one of the more than 500 early polling stations open for business across the country.
● Early voting is available if you can’t get to a polling place on election day. To be eligible, you’ll need to confirm (but you won’t have to provide evidence…) that you’ll be outside the electorate where you are enrolled to vote on 21 May, that you can’t leave work on polling day, or you live more than 8km from a polling place. There are some other scenarios on the eligibility list.
● You can also mail it in – you have until 18 May to apply for a postal vote.
● And if it all goes pear-shaped and you are COVID-affected, you can vote via telephone. The legislation was amended earlier this year to allow Aussies with COVID to use the line as an emergency measure.
What does it mean: Early voting is expected to be huge this election – as much as 40% of the vote could be lodged before 21 May, spurred on by the ongoing pandemic. In 2019, 31.6% of total votes were pre-polled.
What’s next: The AEC is reassuring voters that it’s taking steps to make it as safe as possible on election day. The Commission is recruiting 100,000 additional workers to staff the election, including hygiene officers, who will be cleaning surfaces and pencils. And how else are you going to get your democracy sausage?
Former Liberal PM John Howard says it’s “inevitable” that Australia will develop a civil nuclear industry (PW). He says it’s several years away, but the AUKUS pact to build nuclear-powered submarines in Australia will usher in establishing a nuclear power industry here.
LNP candidate Vivian Lobo has been referred to the Federal Police over allegations he provided false information to the Electoral Commission about his residential address. The Liberal-aligned candidate is running in Lilley in Brisbane – he says he hasn’t had time to move into the property.
Allegra Spender would negotiate with Labor and the Coalition if there was a hung parliament. The independent Teal candidate in Wentworth told ABC TV’s Insiders that she’s after “a moderate, sensible, centrist government that is looking after the long-term of Australia”.
Facebook whistleblowers say the company’s move to block hundreds of Australian emergency services and government pages last year was not an accident. The pages were stripped during negotiations with the Federal Government over legislation to force Meta to pay Australian media companies for news content.
John Lee, a former security chief known for his staunch loyalty to China, will be Hong Kong’s next leader. He replaces Carrie Lam after a tightly controlled selection process that saw him selected by Beijing as the only candidate.
In a historic first, Sinn Féin has won the most seats in Northern Ireland’s assembly election, taking 27 out of 90. The party wants to leave the UK and become one country with the Republic of Ireland, but Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis says a poll on the border is not on the cards.
The AEC has ordered One Nation to remove its ‘Please explain’ political cartoon series from social media because it’s not correctly authorised. The videos have been hit with supporters – but they need to be gone by 8am this morning.
A look at Google Trends data for the last month shows that it’s not what’s capturing the attention of the ‘political class’ that’s seen voters engage…
• PM Scott Morrison’s highest number comes on 2 May when the internet became fascinated with his wayward chicken curry.
• For Labor leader Anthony Albanese, 10 April was his biggest day. That’s when the election was called and people wanted to find out about his partner, his age and his son.
• Clive Palmer is the only minor party leader to ‘win’ a day – that was on 16 April when his party held its campaign launch and news broke that he’d fallen from the stage during rehearsals.
• As for the Greens’ Adam Bandt, his “Google it, mate” zinger at the National Press Club saw him almost top the list on 13 April.
• And Pauline Hanson had her biggest day on 30 April when searches for her ‘Please Explain’ cartoons peaked.
PM Scott Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese start the day in Sydney following last night’s debate
The Philippines presidential election is on today
And a step back in time – today is the anniversary of the opening of the first Parliament of Australia in 1901, and the anniversary of the Parliament convening in Canberra for the first time in 1927
*All times in AEST unless noted
Today’s quote for the subject line comes from William Camden, the English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and herald.