And so my friends, I bid ye farewell. Thanks for bearing with me today while I dealt with the technical difficulties of the blogosphere. It's not easy being a slave to the internet. But it is certainly fun having such close contact with readers.
Steph Peatling will be back as normal tomorrow, and then I will return tomorrow evening to live blog the people's forum between Rudd and Abbott at the Rooty Hill RSL.
I reckon it's going to be a ding-dong battle. Until then.
By popular demand ...
Health reporter Dan Harrison's report on the National Press Club debate between Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and her shadow Peter Dutton.
A note on the previous post on the Coalition policy on $200 vouchers for pre-marital counselling (3.17pm)
I have spoken to a source from Abbott's office about it, and he says the money can be recouped by same-sex couples as well as straight couples.
Obviously same-sex couples won't be getting pre-marital counselling, per se, because they can't get legally married yet. But they can use the $200 towards relationship counselling.
The scheme would be a capped one-year trial. I am seeking more detail for you but the main point is that same-sex couples are not excluded by it.
But of course they are still excluded from marriage itself.
I have noticed a few reader comments saying they have no idea what Twitter is. Which is fair enough - views on the worth of the micro-blogging site are very diverse, shall we say.
Certainly, I think the Coalition's media strategy in particular is to basically ignore it, as they believe most people on Twitter are left-leaning "insiders" who are only talking in an echo chamber - ie it has no "cut-through" to "real Australia", wherever/whoever that is.
What do you think? I suppose political parties need to harness all forms of communication. For example, 70 per cent of Australians on Facebook check it every single day.
So if you're a savvy politician wanting to reach Facebook users, then it makes sense to get something up there.
But I think most pensioners and many working people probably get their news from the telly at night.
Something that is buzzing around on the Twitters this afternoon is a policy from the Coalition which would give $200 to every couple who "register their intention to marry".
Sadly, they cannot use the cash towards a flight to Vegas or blow it on booze for the reception. They must spend it on pre-marriage counselling.
I don't recall this policy but it appears to be a previously-announced one. It came up again on the Australian Christian Lobby website, in response to a question about what each party will do to encourage "marriage and resilience in couple relationships".
Check it out here. If you scroll down to point 14 entitled "Children", it's in there, after the section on LNP policy.
I am trying to confirm whether it is still Coalition policy.
Some people on Twitter have expressed outrage that while the Coalition doesn't support same-sex marriage, it would shell out cash to straight couples to get hitched.
As the pace slows this afternoon, let's look around at some longer reads. My colleague Peter Hartcher has this interesting op-ed in which he argues that while Tony Abbott, probably the nation's next prime minister, has promised a government of no surprises, the world cannot make him the same promise.
Hartcher explains that the world's emerging economies may be the next to founder, with knock-on effects for the globe, including lil ole us.
As per the last post on Peter Dutton and Coalition health policy, here is a link to the AFR article about the shadow health minister, in which he says that health policy will not be a huge priority for the Opposition during the election campaign.
The article, by my Fin colleague (and netball comrade) Joanna Heath, is behind the paywall. In it, Dutton says:
"I've played a team game in opposition and on occasions that comes at a personal cost. Which I've been happy to do."
"Whilst the government has failed in health, their bigger failures have been in border protection, in lying to the electorate about the carbon tax, the government's own waste, mismanagement and incompetence, and they're the issues which all fit in to cost-of-living pressures, that's the biggest factor across Australian society at the moment.
"Our focus, at the moment, has been on cost-of-living issues, the imposition of the carbon tax with no environmental outcomes and that's meant most of our debate time has been taken up by those issues."
A note on health policy - I know some blog-commenters are interested in it, as am I. And it's true that in election debates we often get caught up in the fripperies and forget the policy meat.
Health reporter Dan Harrison was at today's health debate and gave it his full attention, so we will await his more detailed report - we have specialists in journalism for a reason.
But on a more general note - health is consistently rated by voters as one of their most important issues. However it has barely been given the time of day during this campaign - beyond frequent Labor claims that Abbott ripped billions out of the health budget as health minister (claims he denies and which our Fact Checker has deemed false.)
A few months ago, shadow health minister Peter Dutton told the AFR that health was not a huge priority for the Coalition (I paraphrase, I will find the article in a minute and get the full quote).
If you do want to compare the two parties' health policies, we have a handy policy guide for you here. Just click on the "Health" topic in the top right and let your contemplation begin. And of course, your debate!
Rudd has touched down in Brisbane and is doing another presser. Oi veh.
Sadly we cannot hear the audio as it is in a windy location. His fringe is not coping and neither are the sound engineers.
The inimitable Jonathan Swan, political reporter, has filed this piece about the detail of Tony Abbott's policy proposal for the Central Coast.
Which just happens to be home to a few juicy marginal seats (Dobell and Robertson).
Now we have a little respite as both leaders are jumping into jets this afternoon. Abbott and his homies are heading to Melbourne, and Rudd is en route to Brisbane.
Here is a photo Andrew Meares took earlier, of Rudd at the Lowy Institute, with its chair, Michael Fullilove looming in the background. Rudd is doing his chop suey hand gesture.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd addressed the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Tuesday 27 August 2013. Election 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew Meares
I have just received a post asking why I am not covering the National Press Club debate between Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and her opposition shadow Peter Dutton.
The poster asks whether there is a reason for this, or "does it simply reflect the dumbing down of mainstream political reporting?"
The reason is quite simply that we have a health reporter, Dan Harrison, at the debate, and I judged it better that we post his report in a little while, rather than me update it piecemeal as it happens.
One cannot do everything at once, dear poster WhyallaWipeout. But thank you for reading.
Of course, if you wanted to tune into the debate, you can always watch them yourself - either on telly or live-streamed on the ABC website.
Not all politicians are campaigning in marginal seats or metro locales. Labor Senator Louise Pratt is kicking it in Warakurna, a remote community in Western Australia. She spoke to Breaking Politics this morning. Through the wonders of the internets. The issues are different out here, she says.
As we have previously reported, Barry O'Farrell was very hurt that Kevin Rudd did not pick up the phone to warn him in advance of his plan to move the navy from Garden Island (see 11.34am post)
Boffa chastised the Prime Minister when they awkwardly crossed paths in Sydney.
Why didn't you call me, Kev?
Fairfax's own Judith Ireland has a lovely colour piece on the encounter here. And a video of the encounter.
Kevin, you could have called
Kevin Rudd's campaign announcement of the day - a new look at shifting the Navy out of Sydney's Garden Island - has earned him an embarrassing dressing down from the NSW Premier.PT2M22S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2snj8 620 349 August 27, 2013
A little more on the removal of the navy from Garden Island, amidst the chic climes of Sydney's Potts Point (your blogger is a former resident, one grew pleasantly used to the crisp white uniforms of the officers in the cafes of Challis Avenue).
Rudd wants to send their naval a-ses to Brisbane, which he says is a more strategic location.
Premier O'Farrell is dead against the idea, but Rudd has hit back. A story on the stoush here, by David Wroe and Deborah Snow.
Onto some fact checker action. In this humble blogger's opinion, factcheckers are a very welcome and - dare I say it - exciting addition to this election campaign.
Here we test Rudd's claim that he is being outspent in campaign ads, ten to one.
But the other side thinks Labor is out-spending it in negative ads.
They can't both be right, right?
Find out the truth here.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Photo: Andrew Meares
Bazza O'Farrell was not on the harbour foreshore for no reason - he too was there for a press conference.It's his foreshore and he'll complain about Rudd government policies if he wants to.
He was criticising Rudd's proposal to relocate the navy from Garden Island, Potts Point, to Brisbane.
He says that Garden Island contributes $500 million a year to the NSW economy and it employs a lot of people. He says the Rudd policy is a "thought bubble".
Back to Tony Abbott in Berkleyvale: he is asked about reports of an Indonesian politician being critical of the Coalition's "border protection" policy. He dismisses it as being unrepresentative of the entire Indonesian government's attitude to Coalition policy.
And he wraps up with a warning to people smugglers - your game is up, he says. A Coalition government is more than a match for you!
Dramatic denouement to an otherwise fairly routine Abbott factory visit/presser.
Back to the totes awks encounter between Premier O'Farrell and the Prime Minister on the harbour foreshore about 30 minutes ago.
Here we have a Mearseypic, with added finger-wagging for effect. How excellent:
NSW Premier Mr O'Farrell is not happy about the PM's plan to close Garden Island. Photo: Andrew Meares
Abbott is talking now about costings, and repeating his mantra that the Coalition's costings will be released "soon".
All will be revealed in good time, he says.
Meanwhile, dudes (I paraphrase), let's not pretend it's all about the opposition's costings! The government has not got any of its costings or major forecasts right, he says. They have spend hundreds of millions on projects they haven't done proper costings and cost-benefit analyses for.
He is asked about the relocation of navy assets from Garden Island.
Abbott asks where the case for this proposal is coming from? He is not against it in principle but he is against "policy on the run", against the recommendations of the Defence White Paper.
Now Abbott is asked about mandates - something of a talking point in recent days.
Abbott says if the Coalition wins the election it will have the strongest possible mandate to scrap the carbon tax and introduce its Paid Parental Leave scheme.
Every single mother in the workforce will be better off under the policy, he says.
"Any political party that tries to stop this reform, I think will be swept away on the tide of history".
There is some speculation about whether or not a Labor opposition would try to block the PPL scheme, you see. It all depends on the make-up of the next parliament.
Abbott is accompanied by Karen McNamara, the Liberal candidate for Dobell. She is up against Emma McBride, the newly selected Labor candidate hoping to erase, or at least blur, the electorate's memory of the last Labor candidate - old Thommo.
Abbott is now formally announcing the cash bonuses a Coalition government would give to the long-term unemployed (if they get a job obviously).
You can read Mark Kenny's story about that policy at the 10.09am post on this blog.
"I see these measures not as a handout but as a hand up," Abbott says.
A laudably liberal sentiment.
Now Tony Abbott is doing a press conference at a factory in Berkleyvale, near Wyong on the NSW central coast. He is in the electorate of Dobell, which is, of course, the seat of outgoing Labor MP Craig Thomson, he of the startling credit card transactions.
Thomson is running as an independent candidate for the seat on September 7.
Abbott says he is launching a specific plan for the central coast. A bespoke plan, if you will.
He is pledging $21 million of new announcements, for central coast training, for the Woy Woy oval upgrade, new roads, improving water quality in the local lakes.
In particular, in the first term of a Coalition government, Abbott will "seek" to relocate a government agency to Gosford, to create jobs (Gosford has high unemployment).
It's unclear how firm that promise is.
Abbott says for example, the National Disability Insurance Scheme HQ is located in Geelong. He wants Gosford and the Central Coast to have a similar "shot in the arm" for the region.
Ten green bottles.... Mr Abbott at a packaging business in Berkeley Vale. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
A supremely awkward encounter has just occurred when Rudd literally bumped into NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell following the PM's harbourside presser.
Rudd had just been laying into O'Farrell for not being consistent on the issue of using Garden Island for tourism, and re-locating the navy.
We will have pics soon. The two men crossed paths, and apparently Barry said : "A phone call would been nice" and then the two men shook hands.
Seeing as the Ruddster brought it up ... we are falling into his trap a little bit, but I think the Media Watch program is of genuine interest to any readers who didn't catch it last night.
A link here to last night's Media Watch, which reached rather damning conclusions about News Corp bias against the Labor government.
It's a very controversh issue. I would be very interested to see readers comments on this.
Rudd is now criticising Abbott for not putting out his costings yet, and escaping scrutiny more generally.
Rudd also accuses Abbott of not being "out there wandering around talking to anyone", whereas, he, the Ruddster, is mixing with the great unwashed all the time.
(News Corp tabloids are this morning running stories accusing Rudd of running a "fake" campaign with staged events back-filled with Labor flunkies.)
And once again, the PM points the media and viewers to the ABC's Media Watch show last night, which he says is very entertaining.
Paul Barry (Media Watch host) knows you can't pay for that kinda advertising.
As Rudd waxes lyrical next to Sydney Harbour - talking about jobs, the expense of the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme, and the merits of broadband, Opposition leader Tony Abbott is in the seat of Dobell (NSW central coast) and is limbering up for some factory visit action.
Tony Abbott in familiar garb visiting a packaging business at Berkeley Vale, NSW. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Rudd cannot resist a crack at News Corp papers, when asked about a story in The Australian this morning.
He dodges the questions but points everyone towards the ABC's Media Watch program aired last night - which dealt with accusations of bias in the "Murdoch" press during this election campaign.
"Have a long close look at Media Watch last night and ... form your own conclusions about media fairness," he says.
We'll get you a link to that program in a sec. It was interesting for politico-media nerds such as ourselves.
Rudd gets a question about the top he was wearing when he spoke to Barack Obama this morning.
Not quite sure why.
Rudd relays the contents of the conversation, about the civil war in Syria. He says they had a "detailed conversation" about the future of Syria and whether or not the evidence is incontrovertible that the Syrian regime turned chemical weapons on its own people (Rudd believes it is).
Rudd is also making the point that when disasters occur, such as the Asian tsunami, you need to have your defence "assets" (ships, tanks, trucks, planes to civilians) close to where the action is - the further north the better, he says.
Rudd is now taking questions en plein air, as the French modernists would say.
Rudd says there is a lack of real estate in Sydney (don't get me started). He is talking about real estate for big ships though, not first home buyers.
The redeployment of naval assets north to Brisbane will cost $6 billion, as outlined in the defence white paper. This is one of the reasons defence doesn't like the plan much, it will be very expensive.
Rudd is doing a presser on Sydney Harbour with Senator Kim Carr, Industry Minister.
Rudd says his government wants to build things. Defence infrastructure is part of that.
He notes NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell's objections to the idea of closing Garden Island as a navy base. He says that not long ago Premier O'Farrell was saying that the cruise ship industry needed more space in Sydney. Garden Island could be used for that, Rudd says, to the economic benefit of Sydney.
The really big cruise ships can't fit under the Harbour Bridge, you see, so they need a home in the harbour's east. Garden Island would be perfect for such a purpose.
But the navy are not happy with the idea. More on that later.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Industry minister Senator Kim Carr at Mrs Macquarie's Chair opposite the Garden Island Naval facility in Sydney. Photo: Andrew Meares
Kevin Rudd talking to US President Barack Obama in a picture he posted online.
Rudd has been on the blower to Barack this morning. He called the US President to discuss the escalating crisis in Syria, about which US Secretary of State John Kerry gave a very passionate speech overnight.
One K Rudd posted a pic of himself chatting to Barry this morning. Rudd was wearing his tracksuit. We have no information on what Obama was wearing.
We haven't seen the Prime Ministerial tracksuit much since the days of John Howard. It's very 90s.
Read what they talked about here.
And lest you worry that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott slept in and neglected his morning exercise regime ... here he is going for a trot in Newcastle this morning.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott goes for an early morning run in Newcastle. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
In other news...
The Australian Financial Review has a front page story reporting that one of former Treasurer Wayne Swan's fiercest critics, the head of an independent budget forecasting firm, has expressed grave doubts over the Coalition's fiscal strategy.
Read the story here.
Abbott has abandoned his promise to return the budget to surplus in the first term of a Coalition government, and he is facing Labor attacks over the cost of his Paid Parental Leave scheme.
Yesterday, muted criticism of the scheme came from an unexpected (or it is?) source - the Member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull said he supported the scheme but said that if people thought it was too generous, that was a "reasonable" objection. Read that story here (it's behind a paywall but you know...it's worth paying some shekkels for quality journalism)
Labor types have of course pounced on these remarks.
This blog is verrry creaky getting started this morning.
Steph's well-oiled machine has been thrown off course by a provisional driver with poor technical skills and a penchant for mixed metaphors.
But our nation's leaders have woken up brighter and better than most. Rudd took advantage of his Sydney digs (Kirribilli House) to take a constitutional around the harbour foreshore.
Here he is with his media adviser and his son Nicholas lagging behind.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd walking with his press secretary Fiona Sugden and his son Nicholas from Kirribilli House in Sydney. Photo: Andrew Meares
Tony Abbott is in Newcastle and Kevin Rudd is in Sydney, soon to return like a homing pigeon to his hood (Brisbane).
But there is still some action in Canberra, specifically at the National Press Club, where Health Minister Tanya Plibersek will debate her opposition shadow, Peter Dutton, on matters health.
Debates are always quite jolly. Plibersek is rather scathing of Dutton in parliament, often ribbing him for never asking a question on health matters. She seems to have quite naked contempt for him at times. Dutton, a former cop, is untested in a debate-context, so it could be interesting.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Coalition health spokesman Peter Dutton were all smiles in May at a Cancer Council Morning Tea, but the gloves will come off at their Press Club debate. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Tony Abbott will give a presser later this morning, and is expected to announce a Coalition policy on the long term unemployed. The idea is to give them cash bonuses to get back into work, and even more dollars if they stay in work for a year. They would be given money to move to areas where the jobs are, too.
Read Mark Kenny's story here.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott this morning pledged a Coalition government would provide back-dated compensation to victims of international terrorism, in line with the compensation provided to victims of crime at home.
Abbott has a personal stake in this fight (although it must be noted that victims of the Bali bombings and other acts of terrorism have already received compensation of up to $75K from the federal government). He and his family were holidaying in Bali when the second bombing happens. Abbott, who was health minister at the time, dropped everything to go and help out at the bomb site.
The incomparable Tony Wright has written a piece about it here.
Opposition Opposition Leader Tony Abbott meets Bali bombing survivors Paul Anicich, left, and Peter Hughes, centre. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Rudd just took a question from a Lowy cat on defence, and the defence posturing report which found that moving naval assets to Brisbane would be berry berry expensive.
Rudd says governments are required to look very long term, beyond the purview of the defence posturing paper.
Rudd is now taking some questions on international matters.
Michael Fullilove (Lowy Chair) kicks off. He says "many of us" are concerned that defence spending has slumped under Labor - will he match Abbott's pledge to lift defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP?
Rudd doesn't exactly get to the point quickly - but hey, it's the Lowy Institute, he is among his people. He can be loquacious.
Another policy cat just asked about Syria and what we should do about it.
Rudd says there are no perfect choices here. But the Syrian regime is fundamentally assaulting its own people. "I do not believe the world can simply turn a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons against a civilian population".
How do you send a message to every autocracy in the world contemplating the use of chemical weapons in the future? he asks.
Rudd says he will not be party to turning such a blind eye. He is very passionate on this point.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talks foreign policy to the Lowy Institute. Photo: Andrew Meares
Rudd is now talking about re-locating the main naval base of the east coast to Brisbane, shutting historic Garden Island as a naval base.
David Wroe has an article about that here.
Rudd is talking about the global financial crisis and the G20, and how he was pivotal in getting the summit set up.
For the first time in our history we had a seat at a leaders' forum! he says (and it was all due to him).
Next year Australia will host the G20. Employment will be the "core organising principle" of the summit.
Now he's moved on to regional stability and how it affects economics. South China Sea, the North Korean peninsula, they all have reasonably high levels of conflict which threaten security.
The best place to jam about these issues is the East Asia Summit, Rudd says. Australia was instrumental in bringing the United States into this summit.
Now he's back to the GFC and how wonderfully we coped, compared to the rest of the world.
And now to the piece de resistance - this week Australia will become chair of the UN Security Council. It's our time to shine with our "creative middle power diplomacy".
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd begins his address to the Lowy Institute. Photo: Andrew Meares
Welcome to your Tuesday! Today you will be hosted by me, Jacqueline Maley, instead of the usual Steph.
The political day has already begun, with morning walks and threats/promises to close the Garden Island base in Sydney's Potts Point, and move it north of the border to Brisvegas.
Meanwhile, Tony Abbott is pledging back-dated compensation to victims of overseas terrorism, in Newcastle.
Stay with us for the thrills and spills of the day. You never know what might happen on this ker-razy kampaign.