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Australian federal election 2022 live: Labor to release policy costings as Anthony Albanese blitzes marginal seats


I have obviously never truly been loved

I am a hopeless romantic. I have taken my wife to 17 coal mines in 4 days campaigning through Central Queensland!

We have had a blast meeting so many great people and been great to spend time together. Thanks to Mum too for looking after 5 kids! pic.twitter.com/sPKh9Wo3Zs

— Proud Aussie Matt Canavan (@mattjcan) May 18, 2022

While Stuart Robert thinks Scott Morrison barrelling into a kid on a soccer field was “an error from both of them” Luca, the kid in question, speaking to Sydney radio 2GB thinks the prime minister tripped.

He is fine, by the way.

In case you haven’t seen all of the pieces in our ‘Anywhere but Canberra’ series, Murph has summarised the vibe:

Peter Hannam

On the antepenultimate day of the election campaign (we assume Saturday will be busy until the polls close), the Morrison government may finally get an economic data break in their favour.

After triple shocks since the prime minister kicked off the formal campaign almost six weeks ago – think the CPI spike, the bigger than tipped RBA rate rise, and yesterday’s anemic wage growth figures – the ABS will later this morning release the April labour market numbers that will probably offer a positive for the Coalition.
The jobless rate was already below 4% in March, though it rounded up to that mark (which probably wasn’t the reason why Labor leader Anthony Albanese failed to recall it).

Economists are predicting the rate will formally have a ‘3’ in front of it after the numbers land at 11.30am AEST from the ABS. The ANZ is tipping 3.8%, while CBA and Westpacare among those predicting 3.9%. Expect 20-30,000 extra jobs added during that distant month (so it feels) with Easter and other distractions.

Job advertisements have remained at very high levels and various business surveys on employment have indicated further expansion,” was the CBA’s take. “Together with the Q1 2022 WPI data, such an outturn in our view would see the Reserve Bank increase the cash rate target by 25bps at its June meeting.”

Still, it’s a slightly trickly tale for the Coalition to tell.

If the jobless figure sinks to new lows since the 1970s that sounds like a positive since new jobs should be easy to find and voters can be pretty confident that they won’t get cut. (Unless they are in Great Barrier Reef tourism, for instance, but that’s a climate story most politicians aren’t talking about.)

But having a “3” jobless rate hasn’t yet translated into wage rises that are keeping up with the inflation. As we saw yesterday, the gap with rising prices is somewhere between 1.3 percentage points (vs underlying inflation) or 2.7 ppts (vs headline CPI).

Your best bet in negotiating a fatter pay packet is probably to find a new job, as the RBA has noted.

And another “but” is that a strong employment result would also increase the chances of bigger rate rises sooner. Investors got slightly less bullish after those wage price figures but they are still pretty aggressive:

And expect to hear the government spruik how well Australia has done given the jobless rate was forecast to soar during Covid. Fair call, to a degree. But other nations are in the ‘3s’ such as the US, UK and even dear NZ next door. Germany and Japan are even in the ‘2s’, as the Economist data shows.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Scott and Jenny Morrison are visiting Whitemore in the Labor-held electorate of Lyons in Tasmania this morning.

Brian Mitchell holds Lyons on a margin of 5.2%, although his buffer was inflated by the disendorsement of his Liberal opponent mid-campaign in 2019 for anti-Islamic social media posts. Morrison is still on the offence, seeking gains to offset expected losses elsewhere.

The Morrisons are joined by special minister of state Ben Morton, Liberal candidate for Lyons Susie Bower and officials and members of the Whitemore tennis club. The event is being billed as a barbecue breakfast for the community in the Meander Valley between Westbury and Longford.

Liberal candidate for Lyons Susie Bower having a hit with kids at Whitemore tennis club.

Good separation – tennis is another non contact sport. pic.twitter.com/HLxniaRVBb

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) May 18, 2022

After Tasmania the PM appears to be off to Sydney (although we’re still a bit in the dark about his movements) and, according to the West Australian newspaper, will make one final trip to Perth for the final full day of campaigning tomorrow.

Prime minister’s ‘crash tackle’ on child ‘an error from both of them’, minister s ays

Stuart Robert is then asked about Scott Morrison’s collision with a child, Luca, during a photo op with a children’s soccer team.

Poor little boy, I think he was pretty good, there was a high five afterwards, so it was just an error from both of them – but yeah, poor little boy …

Crash tackled by the prime minister – that’ll be a story you’ll tell for the rest of your life, isn’t it? …

Ohhh he seems fine. I think when you you get out there and you kick a footy with the prime minister, these things can happen. I think the little boy is all great and I think he’s a rock star at school today.

Told the child’s name is Luca, Robert says: “Oh, superb!”

Scott Morrison knocks over child while playing soccer – video report

Stuart Robert is then asked if he has found Alan Tudge in the two weeks since he said he did not know where he was and it wasn’t his job to find out (Robert is acting in Tudge’s portfolio):

Robert:

It’s not my job to look for members of parliament, Patricia. My job is to be in my electorate and exercise the authority the prime minister has given me, which is what I’m doing.

Q: OK. But the point is, he’s apparently going to come back to the ministry and yet, you know, he’s not publicly available. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it?

Employment services minister Stuart Robert
Employment minister Stuart Robert. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Robert:

The prime minister has addressed those issues, Patricia. Although the question I get asked all the time is who’s going to be Labor’s defence minister if Labour indeed wins. When Mr Albanese and Ms Wong shoot off overseas, who’s gonna be running that?

Q: Yeah, but I’m asking you about your stood down and stood aside education minister.

Robert:

The prime minister has already responded to that.

Q: If you win on Saturday, why does he deserve to be reinstated as a cabinet minister?

Robert:

Well, that’s a question for the prime minister.

Q: But I’m asking you.

Robert:

It is still a question for the prime minister. The Prime Minister alone sets the course of the ministry, in the finest of Westminster traditions.

Patricia Karvelas then pushes Stuart Robert on robodebt.

A court found the debt recovery scheme, as set up by the Coalition, where debt notices were sent out, without a human review, to people who then had to prove the debt didn’t exist or pay it (reversing the onus of proof) was unlawful. The government then settled a class action. The scheme was not shut down by the Coalition government until a court found it unlawful. The decision to automate the debts notices was made by the Coalition government.

Q: On your $3.3bn efficiency dividend across the public service, Anthony Albanese says this could literally cost lives. He cites the robodebt disaster when he says that when you take humans out of human services, it has devastating consequences for real people. You were government minister, the government services minister during robodebt. Has he got a point?

Robert:

I’m not taking lectures from Mr Albanese who through his policy killed people on roofs with pink batts, and slaughtered at seas because they couldn’t actually stop illegal boats coming to Australian waters.

Q: Slaughtered at seas?

Robert:

They unravelled the border protection policies, he still does not believe in them and the death and destruction at seas … what is simply outrageous and the ides that he could lecture us about loss of life is simply unconscionable. Unconscionable.

Q: Well, I’m asking you a question about robodebt. And you were the minister responsible.

Robert:

No, I wasn’t. Not at all. I was the minister who closed it down because it lacked sufficiency.

Q: Under your government robodebt led to some really, really heartbreaking stories. On the substantive question of staffing and humans doing this work, do you concede that that was a mistake of your government?

Robert:

We’ve said that the use of automation or annualised tax figures to determine eligibility for fortnight by fortnight income welfare payments lacks sufficiency. It is a process that have been going on for 30 years, for 30 years, governments of all persuasions have used income averaging. Now I was the minister that said this lack of sufficiency. I was the minister that stopped it. I was the minister that then saw people repaid where their incomes had been averaged but this was not something that our government started, let’s be very clear on that. This has been a process been going on for 30 years.

It wasn’t the income averaging but the reversal of the onus of proof by making people who received the debt notices prove the debt wasn’t theirs rather than Centrelink prove the debt existed, and the lack of human review of the notices, which was found to be unlawful.

Stuart Robert won’t say what he thinks the minimum wage increase should be:

Well, we all believe that wages should go up … so there’s an expectation from the Fair Work Commission they’ll move on the minimum wage. They always have traditionally, so I fully expect that to happen.

So if they moved 5.1% would that be a disaster?

I’m simply saying let’s wait while the Fair Work Commission does their job.

I’m not going to do what Mr Albanese does and pluck out smiling emojis and loose comments to appease what is an interesting question by a journalist.

The economy is run by disciplined operators and that’s why we’re the best government to continue to lead us forward. Because we are disciplined, we are reasonable and we are sound.

Stuart Robert is on ABC Radio RN painting a rosy picture of the economy and how well Australia is going (compared with the rest of the world):

That’s the facts. And it’s also the fact that on an annualised basis, circa seven of the last eight years, wages have been higher [than inflation], unemployment now is hitting a record level. Last month, of course, 3.954 rounded up to 4% … We have hit the bar set by Labor on any level at any time, we’ve come through the pandemic better than most countries on earth. Just looking at inflation: right now, right across the world – 5.1% in Australia, inflation is the problem. UK hit over 9% overnight.

Josh Butler

Anthony Albanese has been doing the media rounds this morning in the lead-up to Labor’s election costings being released, telling Channel Nine that his party’s “bottom line is absolutely responsible”.

Labor has come under strong questioning for deciding to wait until just 48 hours before election day to release the costings of its policies. Albanese continually explains that this is in line with other oppositions, including Tony Abbott in 2013, but the Coalition has surfaced prior quotes from Albanese at that time when he claimed that approach was “taking Australians for granted”.

This morning, Albanese told Channel Nine’s Today show:

We’re making sure that we invest in childcare. We are going to invest more money in aged care, because we can’t afford to not do that.

Asked whether Labor’s approach was transparent, he said:

We have been transparent. Every single one of our policies and commitments, we have put out the costings over the forward estimates.

On the ABC, Albanese also protested that “every opposition has tended to do it at that time at the end of a campaign. That’s when you release your costings.”

Coalition HQ pointed out this week that in 2013, Albanese said then-treasurer Joe Hockey was treating voters “like mugs” for waiting until the last moment to release costings. He said at the time:

People have every right to expect transparency in an election campaign.

Nine days before that election, Albanese claimed that the Coalition would wait until two days before polling day to “produce a whole lot of paper without time for anyone to analyse it”.

Josh Butler

Anthony Albanese has lashed the Coalition for making “fun of someone’s name in their advertising”, criticising the government’s main attack ads in an address to an Italian community event in Sydney last night.

While stopping short of calling the ads “racist”, the Labor leader claims the rhetoric “bothers members of the community”.

Albanese visited Club Marconi, in Sydney’s multicultural western suburbs, to give a short speech and gladhand with the Italian community. He spoke in accented Italian several times, talking up his family’s history and of his pride at being “the first candidate to be putting themselves forward to be prime minister of this nation with a non-Anglo Celtic surname”:

If we’re successful on Saturday, there will be an Albanese as the leader in the lower house and a Wong as the leader of the Labour party in the Senate, but we still have a bit to go.

Most people of my age and older in this room will know that at school, people made fun of your name. My opponents think it’s still OK to make fun of someone’s name in their advertising. And that is a matter for them to consider.

It seemed a reference to the Coalition’s major attack line, “It won’t be easy under Albanese.” Numerous attendees at the event said they had their own personal stories of being teased at school for their heritage or being racially abused, and agreed strongly with Albanese’s criticism.

In an interview on ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning, Albanese said “members of the community” had “raised it with me during the campaign”.

Asked by host Lisa Millar whether he believed the ads were racist, Albanese declined to comment, only saying: “That’s a decision for them.”

Albanese is in Sydney today, ahead of what Labor is calling a “final sprint” in the last two days of the election campaign. The Labor leader and senior shadow ministers have planned to visit 20 marginal Liberal-held electorates in the next two days, including key seats Brisbane, Longman, Boothby, Bass, Braddon and Chisholm.

The Labor leader is to visit Bennelong this morning before going to Queensland later today. The party is also to release its long-awaited election policy costings later today, after sustained media pressure on Albanese to outline the cost of his plans.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has released polling from Redbridge group showing real pay cuts are unpopular after new statistics showed wages grew 2.4% over the last year, below inflation (5.1%) and therefore a real wage cut.

According to the poll, more than three-quarters of voters (78%) would be more likely to vote for a party that is committed to taking steps to ensure wages do not continue to fall behind the cost of living, and 58.7% say they are dissatisfied with the Morrison government’s performance on cost of living.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus
ACTU secretary Sally McManus. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

The poll also shows that more than three-quarters of voters (84%) believe that wages should keep pace with the cost of living, and more than half (52%) have seen their income go backwards in real terms.

On Wednesday Scott Morrison said wage growth was “slightly above” the 10-year average but the real problem was inflation.

The ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, said:

Working people have had enough of a government which refuses to fight for wage growth. People are going backwards thanks to the policies of this government which are designed to keep wages low.

Every prime minister has the power to generate wage growth – they can support increases in the annual wage review, they can grant real pay rises for their own workforce which is one of the biggest in the country.

Instead, Scott Morrison has told the annual wage review that keeping jobs like aged care and cleaning underpaid is important. He makes things worse by keeping caps in place that ensure his own employees can’t keep pace with the cost of living.

Good morning

If you have The Final Countdown stuck in your head, I’m sorry. (At least it’s better than There’s a Hole in the Bucket.) Two sleeps to go …

Labor’s campaign is about to embark on an absolute seat blitz, with 20 seats to be visited before the polls close. Anthony Albanese has apparently learnt one of the lessons of 2019, when the Labor campaign slowed to almost a stop in the final days following Bob Hawke’s death. That apparently cost seats. So Albanese will cross-cross the country as he tries to shore up everything Labor holds, and win enough to form government.

And, of course, Labor’s costings will be announced today. Jim Chalmers will take the lead on that.

Scott Morrison, fresh from bowling over a kid (the kid says he is fine, people were just shocked at the lengths the PM was going to cement the “bulldozer” moniker) starts the day in Tasmania, where he’s working to hold on to the Coalition’s seats while trying to take Lyons from Labor. He’ll be doing his own seat blitz – if the polls are correct and he’s lost some inner-city seats to independents, then he needs to make that up with some outer suburban ones. Don’t underestimate his ability to do it.

At this point I am more caffeine and dry shampoo than human, so I’m not even going to do a coffee count. It would just be embarrassing. Let’s just say new records are being set.

Ready?

Let’s get into it.





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