Throughout the Federal Election campaign we will be adopting an extended format for the Weekly Wrap Up, but will continue to bring you coverage from around the states.
Federal Election Campaign Diary
Following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s
official announcement on Sunday that a double dissolution election
– only the seventh since federation – will be held on Saturday 2 July, the flag has been raised on what is sure to be an exhaustive eight week campaign; the second longest federal election campaign in the nation’s history.
In setting the narrative for the Coalition’s campaign, Prime Minister Turnbull said this election presents a very clear choice for voters between the Coalition’s plans for jobs and growth or Labor's plan for higher taxes. In contrast, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
responded that the election will be a referendum on jobs, schools, a fairer tax system and keeping Medicare in public hands.
The Coalition appeared to meander out of the starting gates this week rather than run, perhaps showing early signs of its approach to an extended campaign. With the Coalition trailing Labor 49-51
in the two-party preferred vote according to the latest Newspoll
published after the election was called, no major policy announcements were made by the Government this week. The Prime Minister however, visited key marginal seats in Queensland on Monday, before heading south the following day to the election battleground of Western Sydney. Amid media reports of division within Liberal Party
ranks between Abbott loyalists and Turnbull supporters, the Prime Minister cancelled his Wednesday afternoon campaigning activities and deployed Deputy Leader Julie Bishop to Campbelltown on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Opposition made a slightly more aggressive start by launching their campaign with a commitment to reverse the Government’s cuts to Paid Parental Leave
. Mr Shorten also made a highly publicised trip to Beaconsfield
on Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of the safe release of Brant Webb
and Todd Russell
after the mine collapse, which claimed the life of Larry Knight
. He then commenced a road trip across the eastern states, cutting a quick path from Cairns to Canberra then spending his birthday in Rockhampton on Thursday. While busy spruiking the Party’s election platform – 100 Positive Policies
– the Opposition Leader continued to be hampered by the ill-discipline of candidates on the issue of offshore detention, an Achilles heel for the Labor Party.
Despite the Coalition’s best efforts to promote its plan for jobs and growth this week, superannuation continued to dominate
much of the political agenda, with fallout from changes contained within the May 3 Budget. The Government also had a further setback in the latter half of the week after it was revealed Mr Turnbull is named in the Panama Papers
which identify the Prime Minister as a former director of Star Technology Services Limited
, a client of the embattled Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca
The Prime Minister is campaigning in Adelaide on Friday, where he will commit to $43 million to extend the Tonsley Park rail link
, while Mr Shorten is in Sydney focusing on education and teacher training. They will meet for the first time since the election was called later tonight when they go head to head in the Sky News People’s Forum
Meanwhile, the High Court
has dismissed a challenge to Senate voting reform
brought by Senator Bob Day
, ruling that voters are not disenfranchised by the new process, nor is there any infringement of the implied freedom of political communication or the system of representative government. Read more in The Australian here
With 50 days left to go, the punters have the Government odds on favourites, with CrownBet
placing the Coalition at $1.33 for the win while Labor is paying $3.25.
Highlights of the Week
Policy in Focus – Superannuation
Superannuation has been the dominant policy focus of the major parties and media in the first week of the election campaign, following the delivery of the Federal Budget by Treasurer Scott Morrison on 3 May, and subsequent comments by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in which she said the Government will consult on the legislation drafted to enact the proposed changes. Reforms announced as part of the Budget include lowering the threshold for superannuation contributions tax to $250,000, and initiating a $1.6 million transfer balance cap on total accumulated superannuation. Prime Minister Turnbull was quick to step in and clarify Ms Bishop’s comments however, stating she was referring to changes that occur during the standard process of drafting legislation and that no changes will be occurring to the Government’s package of superannuation reform. See media coverage in the SMH here
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed his support for the superannuation changes this week, stating that while there is a “degree of anxiety” within the Liberal Party, challenging decisions had to be made in order to reduce the budget deficit. Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Jim Chalmers has accused the Government of being in disarray over the issue of superannuation and retrospectivity. See media release More Turnbull Government Confusion over Retrospective Super Changes.
The superannuation guarantee was also an issue this week, with Treasurer Chris Bowen raising the Government’s budget announcement that the current guarantee rate of 9.5 per cent is frozen for seven years and will increase by 0.5 percentage points annually from 1 July 2021 until it reaches 12 per cent. Mr Bowen stated that the rate increase to 12 per cent will occur sooner under a Labor Government, with the Opposition to release its plan on this issue in the lead up to the election. See media coverage Election 2016: Labor to revive 12 per cent super guarantee