We made it! End of the third week.
I'm not going to summarise the whole week but I will look back on the day that was before signing off:
- Labor leader Kevin Rudd did a marathon trip through five western Sydney electorates;
- Coalition leader Tony Abbott did physical fitness training with soldiers in Darwin;
- Mr Rudd announced a policy to help small businesses reduce red tape;
- Mr Abbott announced an additional $420 million in border protection measures including a boat buyback scheme for Indonesian fishermen;
- Labor ridiculed the idea as the maddest immigration policy it has ever heard; and
- the Coalition will hold its campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday.
For those who are interested in polls please have a look at the homepages of the various Fairfax Media websites at 6pm when chief political correspondent Mark Kenny will have a taste of the latest Nielsen poll findings. The full results will be published tomorrow.
Thank you for your company this week. It's been a pleasure bringing you our live coverage of the federal election campaign. Take a bow Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen. Until next week - go well.
Former Howard government finance minister Nick Minchin has joined the ranks of people who oppose Coalition leader Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme.
"There is a finance ministers' club and we always oppose all entitlement schemes of this kind," Mr Minchin told ABC television earlier today.
Mr Minchin said he doubted a Coalition government would be able to get the scheme through the Senate without it being altered: "I don't see how this whole package, including the tax cut and the levy is ever going to get through the Senate. Tony is very committed to it but....there are going to have to be compromises."
Here is the photo gallery of yesterday's winning pictures by Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen.
Don't forget - if you're in Canberra tomorrow and would like to take a look around the Prime Minister's Office you can.
Parliament House will be holding a special open day as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations.
You can find the details here but some of the highlights include touring the offices of the Prime Minister, President of the Senate and the Speaker and the House of Representatives and taking the race chance to work on the floors of both chambers.
Another cartoon - this time by David Pope - to keep you going throughout the afternoon.
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Just a reminder that polling stations are already open should you wish to cast your vote ahead of time.
You can find the most convenient location here.
On the big question of the campaign - whether to vote above or below the line - The Sydney Morning Herald has editorialised on the matter today.
It's a Thriller kind of afternoon.
Fresh from insisting the photographers take apples this morning (see 9.23am post), Mr Rudd offers blueberries as an afternoon snack.
Mr Burke is asked about the polls: "If the opposition keeps making announcements like the one they did today we should be able to make up the ground pretty quickly."
Immigration Minister Tony Burke is reacting to the Coalition's announcement.
He is less than impressed that aspects of covert operations were detailed to the media in this morning's stories foreshadowing the announcement.
"Principle one of covert operations is you don't drop them to the media," Mr Burke says.
Mr Burke says it's a "clever media line [that] is sort of a match up to the kindergarten child who runs around saying 'I've got a secret do you want to hear it'."
He is also sceptical about the boat buyback plan.
"Indonesia is an archipelago. Indonesia has one of the largest fishing fleets in the world," Mr Burke says quoting figures that says there are 726,000 boats in Indonesia.
"That's a buyback scheme in a market of three quarters of a million boats. Of all the mad ideas I've heard in immigration I think boat buyback wins."Back to top
The policy document accompanying the immigration announcement says it "will cost around an additional $420 million to implement over the forward estimates period".
"These costs will be more than offset by the savings realised from the reduction in boat arrivals to be achieved by the implementation of these measures and other elements of the Coalition's comprehensive border protection policies already announced."
"We're not going to be all announcement and no execution," Mr Abbott says.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison are speaking to the media in Darwin about new aspects of their immigration policy.
The key points are:
- $67 million to deploy Australian Federal Police officers to Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia to assist with joint people smuggling operations;
- $20 million to "enlist Indonesian villages to support people smuggling disruption including a capped boat buy back scheme";
- regional transit zones to help move asylum seekers to offshore processing centres without needing to go first to Christmas Island or the Australian mainland;
- $27 million for increased aerial surveillance and $71 million to Indonesia to boost their search and rescue resources;
- supplement the border protection fleet with commercially leased vessels; and
- expand the capacity of processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru by 2000.
Today's Fact Checker is special.
During Wednesday night's community forum a gentleman called Chris asked Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott about the quality of political candidates.
"By and large, it used to be the case that to get endorsement as a candidate for either party you had to have a record of achievement in your chosen field and you probably had to have a record of community service," Chris said.
"Today, it's a different story. Increasingly we get the odd celebrity, but by and large party hacks, union officials, representatives of vested interest groups [and] that's if it's a winnable seat."
Fair point, I hear you say.
But is there any truth to it? Click here to find out.
Except that maybe whoever was on the advance team wasn't paying attention.Back to top
I can't add anything to this.
Bianca Hall is with Team Rudd.
More on immigration:
Australia has been found guilty of almost 150 violations of international law over the indefinite detention of 46 refugees in one of the most damning assessments of human rights in this country by a United Nations committee.
The Age's political editor, Michael Gordon, writes that the committee has ordered the federal government to release the refugees - who have been in detention for more than four years - and provide them with rehabilitation and compensation.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd has ridiculed a Coalition plan to spend millions of dollars buying Indonesian fishing boats to deter people smugglers.
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