Morning mail election extra: budget ‘holes’, flubbed lines and social media misfires | Australia news


Good morning, this is Naaman Zhou bringing you a special election edition of the morning mail for Saturday 20 April.

The week that was

It was the first full week of the campaign – but by Thursday afternoon, it felt like it wasn’t. With a gradual winding down and dropping of arms agreed for Easter, week two initially spluttered into action, slumped, flickered, then hit the wall early, as both major parties settled in for the break.

Last weekend was rich with gaffes: Scott Morrison said “ni hao” (the Chinese greeting for hello) to a Korean-Australian, Peter Dutton finally apologised for comments about opponent Ali France’s disability and, in better news, the seat of Chisholm hosted the first debate conducted (partly) in Mandarin – between Liberal Gladys Liu and Labor’s Jennifer Yang.

But the week soon petered out into a stop-start, low-stakes game. The leaders criss-crossed the country – Morrison played lawn bowls and dug up carrots and Bill Shorten roamed through food courts.

The bookends came through two goodbyes. Melissa Parke stood down last weekend as Labor candidate for Julie Bishop’s former seat of Curtin, and the independent South Australian senator Tim Storer announced his retirement on Thursday morning.

The big issue

The numbers. This was a week for the facts, the figures and the various abacuses of the public service.

On Monday, the debate was around Labor’s budget “holes”, and the health minister, Greg Hunt, produced a departmental estimate that Labor’s centrepiece cancer policy was $4.5bn short. This turned out to be an estimate for free treatment for everyone – which Labor’s policy does not actually promise.

Labor returned fire after Pefo (the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook) arrived, using an earlier Grattan report that suggested the government would need to cut expenditure by $40bn a year by 2029-30 to meet its budget aims.

But the week was more about things people could not remember or get a grip on. On Tuesday, Shorten forgot that Labor would actually be introducing changes to superannuation, and on Wednesday, the Liberal MP Michelle Landry said she didn’t how much Adani donated to her campaign.

Good week for …

Josh Frydenberg. But thanks only to the self-inflicted car-crash interview from the GetUp director, Paul Oosting, who in trying to identify Frydenberg as a key plotter in the Liberal spill, ended up flubbing his lines.

Frydenberg received a short-lived promotion when Oosting accidentally called him “deputy prime minister” on Melbourne ABC radio. After being corrected, Oosting then called him “the finance minister”, which is also wrong. Eventually, the treasurer was exonerated from any role in the spill, and GetUp removed that line of attack from its campaign material in his seat of Kooyong.

Bad week for …

Gladys Liu. The Liberal candidate for the marginal Victorian seat of Chisholm was caught out erroneously claiming she was misquoted, after audio was released of an interview from 2016.

At a debate on Sunday, Liu said she had been misrepresented in a 2016 Guardian Australia article, where she said the Chinese community opposed same-sex marriage. But after audio was uploaded, she cancelled an interview on Sky News, the former Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos called it “a rookie error”, and her immediate predecessor in Chisholm, Julia Banks, blasted the original comments as “completely abhorrent”.

Meme warfare

It was also a bad week for the in-house social media teams of both main parties. A very poor photoshop from Labor put Scott Morrison’s head, unconvincingly, on to a dinosaur for 15 seconds. On Saturday, Tony Abbott’s team decided to upload a picture of the News Corp columnist Piers Akerman in a campaign shirt, before deleting it.

Some laughs were had when Bill Shorten bafflingly asked an adult man if he was “having an OK school holidays”. “It doesn’t affect me,” he replied.

Finally, back to Warringah, where most of Tuesday was spent making fun of Abbott’s announcement that he would lead the Liberal party again, if asked to do so.

James Colley
(@JamColley)

This story appears so often I have to assume Tony’s just constantly mumbling those wordshttps://t.co/ruDDGtLJXW

April 15, 2019

Josh Butler
(@JoshButler)

Nobody:
Tony: hey I’d be happy to be leader again. If you guys wanted. Just in case, I’m just reminding you all again. Just saying. If you want. Totally your call. But I’d be up for it. https://t.co/YSsspSXFzr

April 15, 2019

Campaign dog of the week

Scott Morrison and the Liberal MP Luke Howarth met a St Bernard named Mouse in Brisbane on Sunday.

Scott Morrison and Mouse



Scott Morrison and the Liberal MP for Petrie, Luke Howarth, with Mouse at the Redcliffe Jetty markets. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

They said it


I’m only sorry I didn’t bring a pocket of nails today, because with this soil I could have easily thrown them into the ground and grown crowbars

~ Michael McCormack practises his standup set in Tasmania

In case you missed it in the Guardian

Our Queensland correspondent, Ben Smee, visited several seats in the state’s central belt, where voters are at the sharp end of the national debate about jobs, coal and climate change. One farmer in beef country outside Rockhampton said: “Pauline Hanson has got a really big hook in this area because she says the sorts of things that people want to hear, that other politicians are scared to say.”

Christopher Knaus reported that the Liberal MP Jason Wood gave a $1.5m novelty cheque to a sports club in his marginal seat, despite the club being told by the deputy deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, that the funds were yet to be approved.

And political editor Katharine Murphy analysed the meaning behind Scott Morrison’s apparently bland slogan about getting a fair go. “By his own account, the fair go has some footnotes attached to it. The fair go applies if you have a go and if you don’t seek to ‘take’ a contribution. It doesn’t automatically apply to everyone equally.”

What we read elsewhere

A story from Anthony Galloway and Rob Harris in the Herald Sun revealed that the Nationals MP George Christensen charged taxpayers $3,000 for domestic flights en route to flights to the Philippines to visit his fiancee.

Michael Slezak and Stephen Long at the ABC obtained handwritten notes that appeared to contradict the government’s claim that Adani “accepted in full” advice and recommendations from the CSIRO.

What do the polls say?

There was just one national poll this week, Monday’s Newspoll, which had the two main parties unchanged on 52%-48% in Labor’s favour, two-party-preferred. But it showed a sharp drop in the primary vote for One Nation, to just 4%, which could have huge ramifications for the lower and upper house if replicated in actual votes on 18 May.

Coming up

The Easter break and then Anzac Day next Thursday creates a sandwich of becalmed air that promises to provide low activity next week. However, expect things to heat up from 26 April.

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1 Comment on "Morning mail election extra: budget ‘holes’, flubbed lines and social media misfires | Australia news"

  1. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

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