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Federal Politics

Election wrap: August 20, 2013

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Nearly at hump day for the week and the campaign. Pace yourself. We've got all this to get through again.

In the meantime, let's look back at the day that was:

  • Coalition leader Tony Abbott was in Victoria and Labor leader Kevin Rudd was in Brisbane;
  • Mr Abbott announced $25 million to fix potholes in the Great Ocean Road and continued to be dogged by questions about how his paid parental leave scheme would be funded and when he would release its costings;
  • Mr Rudd announced a Labor government would kick in $125 million for medical research and a further $47.5 million for priority research centres;
  • Mr Rudd says Labor can win because most people will not make up their minds until closer to polling day; and
  • pre-poll voting has opened.

Thanks so much to you for reading and commenting. Lots of snaps for Alex Ellinghausen and Andrew Meares.

We will be back tomorrow. See you then.

 

 

More on Boris Johnson (see 3.35pm post).

Mr Johnson has been holidaying in the Northern Territory where earlier today he met a baby crocodile that the Territory government has gifted to Prince George.

He gave the crocodile a kiss safe in the knowledge its mouth was tied shut.

 

An update on the boat that capsized north of Christmas Island (see 1.39pm post).

A spokesperson for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says: "The vessel was upright but partially submerged. A number of people were sighted in the water. At approximately 12.25pm AEST HMAS Parramatta arrived on scene and began recovering people from the water. A merchant vessel is on scene assisting the Roayl Australian Navy with the operation."

106 people have been recovered from the water and two have minor injuries, the spokesperson said.

(Yes, that's one more person than the initial report.)

Search and rescue operations are continuing and HMAS Pirie is on its way to offer further assistance as are additional aircraft.

Team Rudd and Team Abbott have both wrapped up for the day.

That means no more magic from Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen.

However, the photo gallery of yesterday's campaign events is available to keep you going until tomorrow.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Medicare Local Northern Rivers Branch in East Lismore NSW. Click for more photos

ELECTION 2013 - Day 15

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Medicare Local Northern Rivers Branch in East Lismore NSW. Photo: Andrew Meares

  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Medicare Local Northern Rivers Branch in East Lismore NSW.
  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was embraced by supporter Glenn Thomas Clarke who told the PM not to worry about polls as they were prepared by "wombats".
  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited the Condong Bowling Club in Tweed Heads NSW.
  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited the Condong Bowling Club in Tweed Heads NSW.
  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited the Condong Bowling Club in Tweed Heads NSW.
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott greets the STARS mascots during a NSW Business chamber breakfast, in North Ryde, Sydney.
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott greets Liberal MP John Alexander during a NSW Business chamber breakfast, in North Ryde,Sydney.
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott meets with NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, during his visit to the St Marys Police Station in Western Sydney.
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during his visit to the St Marys Police Station in Western Sydney.
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott with Liberal candidate Fiona Scott visit to the St Marys Police Station in Western Sydney.
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott walks the streets of Liverpool.
  • Opposition Leader Tony Abbott walks the streets of Liverpool.

Labor's campaign launch will be held on September 1 in Brisbane in Kevin Rudd's electorate of Griffith.

Yes, you read that correctly, that's one week before the actual election.

The Australian Electoral Commission is preparing for its biggest election ever both in terms of the number of people enrolled to vote and the number of candidates standing.

500 pre polling stations opened today and a record 14.7 million people are enrolled to vote.

Some other facts and figures that bring a smile to the face of a political nerd such as myself have been issued by the commission

  • over 100,000 pencils have been bought and 140 km of string is required to tie them to polling booths (this is my favourite);
  • over 43 million ballot papers have been printed and 50,000 ballot boxes produced;
  • about 70,000 polling station officials are needed (50,000 have signed up so far);
  • 265 group voting tickets have been accepted; and
  • a record 1,717 nominations were received and declared from independent candidates.


Unfortunately I am unable to tell you how many sausages will be sizzled on September 7.

 

Having mentioned an American left leaning political strategist in my 3.05pm post I think it's only balanced to now refer to an English right leaning politician.

I speak of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is in Australia to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Mr Johnson will be here for 10 days, so one can only hope he will be asked to offer his thoughts on the Australian election campaign.

In this piece that was published by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age at the weekend Mr Johnson spoke about pretty much everything. In case you don't have time to read it I have pulled out some of his lines:

1. "Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your changes of owning a BMW M3."

2. "I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed so it didn't go up my nose. In fact, it may have been icing sugar."

3. On possibly being prime minister: "About as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars or being reincarnated as an olive."

Anyone else out there a fan of The Sydney Morning Herald's economics editor, Ross Gittins?

Me too. According to office legend he buys a new pair of Dunlop Volleys for each budget and files his Wednesday column in time to make a film on cut price Tuesdays.

Anyone who has read Ross's work will know he does not suffer fools gladly, particularly those of a political persuasion (both the participants and the observers).

In this video Ross is in fine form as he decries the trend in increasingly emotional and vacuous election campaigns.

 

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Gittins: The art of politics

Election campaigns have become more vacuous and more emotional because the art of politics has become more professional and ruthless. Ross Gittins explains.

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We are nearly at the half way mark of the campaign.

Can Labor win?

Yes it can, says John McTernan.

Why should you care what he thinks? Well, he was the director of communications for Julia Gillard during her prime ministership and I am inclined to point you in the direction of any piece that quotes the Ragin' Cajun James Carville (who worked on US President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign).

McTernan pulls out a particularly pithy Carville quote in his advice to Labor: "If your fist is down your opponent's throat he can't say bad things about you."

Quite a mental image that.

Maybe leave it aside and read the piece instead (it helps if you affect a thick Scottish accent while you do so).

 

PS to the previous post - you don't have to vote above the line when it comes to the Senate.

The parties like you to because it means they can direct your vote as they see fit. It's cumbersome, I know, but you can always vote below the line. Given the size of the ballot paper this year people are already suggesting this may cause congestion at polling stations so if that bothers you then vote early! (See 2.14pm post.)

Most of the focus of the campaign has been on the lower house.

But what of the Senate? After all, 529 people have put their hands up for just 40 spots. There are 110 candidates in NSW, 97 in Victoria, 82 in Queensland and so it goes.

The Coalition seems unlikely to win a Senate majority but, as The Age's economics editor Tim Colebatch points out in this article, it may end up with a Senate it can work with.

Well he's hardly going to say it was a bad day and everything went wrong, is he?

 

Did you know the polls are open? Already? Indeedily doodily you can.

Why don't you wander over to the Australian Electoral Commission's website here to find out where.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gives the thumbs up to  protestors as he leaves  the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gives the thumbs up to protestors as he leaves the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Some commentators have pointed out the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme doesn't amount to a hill of beans unless it is accompanied by an accessible and affordable childcare system.

The National Foundation for Australian Women is one such organisation. You can see its argument in the below video.

 

 

 

Sunday: Mothers Day 2013. Four mothers will be experiencing their very first mothers day this year. Kylea Dunstan, 36 of Fisher and her 4 month old baby boy Lachlan. 10th of May 2013. Canberra Times Photograph by Katherine Griffiths Click to play video

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Parental leave misses the mark

The National Foundation for Australian Women says childcare funding should be the focus, not a more lucrative paid parental leave scheme.

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In breaking news Judith Ireland has confirmed that a boat containing 105 people has capsized north of Christmas Island.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority told Judith that the organisation received a request for assistance earlier this morning.

"The vessel was 120 nautical miles north of Christmas Island with reportedly 105 people on board," the spokeswoman said.

"AMSA issued a broadcast to shipping and a Navy vessel was tasked to respond. HMAS Parramatta arrived on scene around 1220 AEST and reported that the vessel had capsized."

The Navy boat is conducting a rescue operation with support from a Dash 8 aircraft and a PC Orion will be in the area this afternoon. Another Navy vessel is also due to arrive shortly.

"This is an ongoing search and rescue operation and no further information is available at this stage," the spokeswoman said.

Chief political correspondent Mark Kenny has written this analysis piece on the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme which you may care to read here.

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott is considering the future of the Coalition's candidate in the NSW seat of Charlton, Kevin Baker, who has been running an unsavoury website featuring sexist and racist material. Breaking news reporter Daniel Hurst has more on that.

And still with Team Abbott - Mr Abbott has asked that abortion not be politicised as he campaigned with a candidate who once had divergent views on the matter.

 

 

A woman tries to catch a glimpse of Opposition leader Tony Abbott through a cafe window during a streetwalk in Geelong, Victoria, on Tuesday.

A woman tries to catch a glimpse of Opposition leader Tony Abbott through a cafe window during a streetwalk in Geelong, Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Exit stage right pursued by a bear (or clownfish, in this case).

A protester heckles Opposition leader Tony Abbott during a streetwalk in Geelong, Victoria, on Tuesday.

A protester heckles Opposition leader Tony Abbott during a streetwalk in Geelong, Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In today's Fact Checker segment Peter Martin looks at Labor's claim that people living in the Northern Territory find life harder than the rest of us.

I'm sure Territorians would agree.

But what did Peter find? Click here to see.

 

As usual I've not been speedy enough to bring you everything I should have.

So back to immigration policy then.

Labor's Papua New Guinea solution faces its first legal challenge with an asylum seeker sent to Manus Island set to launch High Court action later today.

The Age's political editor, Michael Gordon, and Daniel Flitton have more.

Coalition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says his party's immigration policy is "harsh" and "cruel" but so are all policies in this area.

"The problem is the status quo is cruel," Mr Turnbull told Fairfax Media. "You have to work out the least cruel, most effective, most efficient means of depriving the people smuggler of a product to sell."

You can read more of Mr Turnbull's thoughts here.

I don't actually know Santa Claus but if you tell me what you want for Christmas I might be able to pass it along.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott during a streetwalk in Geelong, Victoria, on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott during a streetwalk in Geelong, Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Anyone else feeling a bit like this?

 

Labor leader Kevin Rudd and Coalition leader Tony Abbott will both appear at a community forum in Brisbane tomorrow night. It's kind of like the second leaders' debate but not really because the pair will take questions from the audience rather than debate each other.

Keen political observers who were watching ABC television's Q and A last night were heartened by the feisty exchange between the two men who want to be Australia's next Treasurer - Labor's Chris Bowen and the  Coalition's Joe Hockey.

Neither offered any actual answers to any questions but it was at least a lively affair.

Business writer Michael Pascoe has written this piece about what you might have learned from their face off.

Enough of that frippery.

Back to paid parental leave.

Author John Birmingham has weighed in on the matter - what about dads, he asks in this piece.

Meanwhile, one of the Coalition's campaign spokesmen, Mathias Cormann, has defended the scheme saying it is fully funded without cutting services but has declined to say just when the costings documents might be released.

You can watch Senator Cormann in this video.

 

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PPL: fully funded, no cuts

Shadow assistant treasurer Mathias Cormann says the Opposition's paid parental leave scheme will be fully funded, and not from cuts to services.

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I don't know about you but I need a bit of light relief after all that.

Music. That should do it.

The ABC's veteran music show, Rage, has gone all political and will host three politicians as guest programmers on August 31 (seriously - is nothing sacred in this campaign?). Labor's Anthony Albanese, the Coalition's Julia Bishop and the Greens' Adam Bandt have each submitted their playlists.

Ms Bishop has chosen, among others, Madonna's Like A Virgin and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Mr Albanese has gone with The Pixies song Here Comes Your Man and The Triffids 1986 hit Wide Open Road. The Greens' Adam Bandt chose Bloc Party's Banquet and Talking Heads' Girlfriend is Better.

For more about the Rage special you can click here.

Mr Rudd says the Labor campaign launch will be held in Brisbane "capital of the world".

(But not when.)

Mr Rudd: "We're not even at half time yet....I believe people will make up their minds closer to the event."

Mr Rudd summarises his announcement: "What are we great at in Australia? We are great at inventing stuff. What do we need to be better at? Commercialising stuff."

 

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Rudd goes on the front foot over the Coalition's policy costings.

"What have you got to hide," Mr Rudd asks Coalition leader Tony Abbott.

He refers to the $70 billion figure again and says it is the equivalent of funding hospitals over four years.

"This is not a piece of loose change," Mr Rudd says.

"Mr Abbott has arrogantly concluded he has already won the election and so hasn't come clean with the Australian people about where the cuts will come."

 

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Rudd says: "None of this happens by magic."

Breakthroughs in research such as prostate cancer happen through a "series of eureka moments", he says.

 

 

 

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Rudd and the Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, are announcing a new $250 million Medial Research Innovation Fund to help commercialise new medical treatments and 21st century healthcare technologies (half the money would come from the government, the other half from private investment).

"It means life changing innovations for ordinary Australians," Mr Rudd says of the work of medical researchers.

He also announces $47.5 million in funding for 19 centres of research excellence in areas such a indigenous health, genomics and national clinical trials of new drugs.

 

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Abbott has wrapped up just ahead of Kevin Rudd beginning to talk in Brisbane.

 

Mr Abbott is asked about paid parental leave.

Mr Abbott says he accepts that "some of my colleagues have been slow to adjust on paid parental leave".

"I have grown, I have changed," Mr Abbott says.

"I'm confident my colleagues will come with me."

(Still no sign of the costings though.)

Mr Abbott is also confident the states will come on board. He says he will have "an adult conversation" with state premiers about the costing of the scheme should the Coalition win government.

 

Opposition leader Tony Abbott addresses the media during a visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott addresses the media during a visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Abbott says that as "far as the Coalition is concerned the national disability insurance scheme is an idea whose time has come".

He says people will hear more about the scheme from the Coalition rather than Labor during the campaign.

Mr Abbott says it is "difficult" for Kevin Rudd to talk about the scheme because it was a signature policy of his predecessor, Julia Gillard.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott meets with employees during his visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott meets with employees during his visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Abbott says if a Coalition government was elected he would set up a bipartisan committee to oversee the scheme's genesis (it will not be fully operational until 2019).

"It should be something that's owned by the whole people [and is] not just a party political achievement," Mr Abbott says.

"If it's an achievement for the nation it will go on for decades."

 

Opposition leader Tony Abbott meets with employees during his visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott meets with employees during his visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Abbott is visiting a disability employment services business in Geelong, in the electorate of Corio in Victoria.

Mr Abbott is talking about the national disability insurance scheme (yes, I know Labor changed the name to DisabilityCare but Mr Abbott prefers the old name because that is what a Coalition government would use).

"It's only in the last couple of months that the name was changed," Mr Abbott explains. "As people have said, the sector sees the scheme as supporting them deliver a better life, it doesn't see it as simply a care for vulnerable people operation."

 

Opposition leader Tony Abbott meets with employees during his visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott meets with employees during his visit to a disability services business in Corio, Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

There's always one.....Coalition leader Tony Abbott is heckled along the Great Ocean Road.

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'This is no place for you Tony'

RAW VISION: Opposition leader Tony Abbott is heckled by a passer by as he inspects a pot hole on the Great Ocean Road.

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Fuelled by an early morning sausage sanger and the shiny happy faces of school children Kevin Rudd has issued a rallying cry: "I believe in the power of the Australian people!"

Bianca Hall is with Team Rudd and has filed this report on the first stop of the day.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at a rally outside Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at a rally outside Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Rupert's two bob:

 

There's just too much to write about babies!

The Coalition's case for the paid parental leave scheme has not been helped by a less than polished performance by treasury spokesman Joe Hockey on radio yesterday in which he stumbled over how it would be funded.

Initially Mr Hockey said the entire cost of the policy would be covered by the levy a Coalition government would impose on the country's biggest companies. Mr Hockey then said it would be paid for by a combination of factors including the levy, the money the government would save in family tax payments and state government contributions.

It is hard to determine exactly how the scheme will be funded because the Coalition has not yet released the costings (although it promised to do so).

The Age's political editor, Michael Gordon, writes it is ridiculous that whys and wherefores of such a big commitment have not been spelt out.

What do you think? Is the Coalition's scheme fair? Have your say in our readers' poll which you can find here.

Paid parental leave. It's supposed to be a dead set winner for the Coalition complete with photo opportunities galore of babies and radiant new mothers. Instead, the policy is being attacked by Labor (no surprises there) and big business and it is not exactly being embraced by everyone inside the Coalition.

That's a lot of angst for something that is going to cost $5.5 billion a year.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says the policy is overly generous and former National Party senator turned lower house candidate Barnaby Joyce has defended his party's commitment to the scheme. Breaking news reporter Judith Ireland has more on who says what about paid parental leave inside the Coalition.

What do the experts say? Will the scheme be a boon for workplace productivity? Maybe, some say, but only if it is matched by an affordable and accessible childcare system, report Matt Wade and Clay Lucas.

 

Both leaders have been out and about this morning as you can tell from the fine photographs Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen have already sent through.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd has been in Brisbane at Nyanda High School which has been earmarked for closure by the Liberal National state government. Mr Rudd will be in Brisbane today where he make an announcement later this morning about medical research.

Coalition leader Tony Abbott was on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria campaigning with candidate Sarah Henderson. Mr Abbott committed a Coalition government to spending $25 million over five years to upgrade the iconic highway. Mr Abbott will spend the rest of the day in Victoria.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott inspects a pothole on the Great Ocean Road with Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson,  in Victoria, on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott inspects a pothole on the Great Ocean Road with Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson, in Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Coalition leader Tony Abbott is fond of telling his team that winning an election is like climbing Mt Everest.

Liberal MP Philip Ruddock assists Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to climb up a slope during his visit to the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria, on Tuesday.

Liberal MP Philip Ruddock assists Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to climb up a slope during his visit to the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

I can almost see The Lodge from here.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott at the Anglesea lookout on the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria, on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott at the Anglesea lookout on the Great Ocean Road, in Victoria, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

We are the champions.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein return to C1 after they attend a rally at Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein return to C1 after they attend a rally at Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

If only they could vote.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attends a rally at Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attends a rally at Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

It's good to start the day with a nourishing breakfast particularly if it can be combined with a political rally.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd prepares sausages at a rally at the  Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd prepares sausages at a rally at the Nyanda High School in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Parents, poppets and Papua - these are the issues populating the campaign this morning.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the election trail. It's a pleasure to have you on board as Alex Ellinghausen, Andrew Meares and I buckle up for another day.