Richard Marles was also on ABC radio RN this morning, where he was asked about Labor’s seat blitz:
We don’t take anything for granted. And so, you know, we’ve been campaigning in seats that we hold and hearts that the government controls, but we want to change the government.
And that means we need to be in government-held seats and get them to move. That’s how ultimately how we change the government. And so we will talk to as many people as possible in those seats over the coming two days to try and achieve that outcome because Australians want to see a change.
I think they are sick of Scott Morrison, and they’re sick of a proposition from the government, which is essentially offering nothing more than more of the same. People want to plan for a better future, and we’ll make that argument over the next two days.
Updated at 19.00 EDT
I have never truly been loved.
I am a hopeless romantic. I have taken my wife to 17 coal mines in 4 days of 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 five kids! pic.twitter.com/sPKh9Wo3Zs
— Proud Aussie Matt Canavan (@mattjcan) May 18, 2022
Updated at 18.59 EDT
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, tells Sydney radio 2GB that he thinks the prime minister tripped.
Luca is fine, by the way.
Updated at 18.48 EDT
In case you haven’t seen all of the pieces in our Anywhere But Canberra series, Murph has summarised the vibe:
Updated at 18.48 EDT
On the antepenultimate day of the election campaign (we assume Saturday will be busy until the polls close), the Morrison government may finally get economic data to break in their favor.
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 labor 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 predict the rate will formally have a “3” in front of it after the numbers land at 11.30 am AEST. The ANZ is tipping 3.8%, while CBA and Westpac are among those predicting 3.9%. Expect 20,000 to 30,000 extra jobs added during that distant month (so it feels), given Easter and other distractions.
The CBA said:
Job advertisements have remained very high, and ious business surveys on employment have indicated further expansion. With the Q1 2022 WPI data, such an outturn would see the Reserve Bank increase the cash rate target by 25bps at its June meeting.”
If the jobless figure sinks to new lows since the 1970s, that sounds like,e a positive since new jobs should be easy to find, and voters can be pretty confident they won’t get cut. (Unless they are in Great Barrier Reef tourism, for instance, that’s a climate story most politicians aren’t talking about.) Still, it’s a slightly tricky tale for the Coalition to tell.
But having a “3” jobless rate hasn’t yet translated into wage rises that keep up with the inflation. As we saw yesterday, the gap with rising prices is somewhere between 1.3 percentage points (v underlying inflation) or 2.7 ppts (v headline CPI).
As the RBA noted, finding a new job is your best bet in negotiating a fatter pay packet.
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. That is a fair call, to a degree. But other nations are in the “3s”, including the US, the UK, and even dear NZ next door. Germany and Japan are even in the “2s”, as the Economist data shows.
Updated at 18.48 EDT
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 offense, seeking gains to offset expected losses elsewhere.
The Morrisons are joined by special minister of state Ben Morton, Liberal candidate for Lyons Susie Bower, 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 is having a hit with kids at Whitemore tennis club.
Good separation – tennis is another noncontact 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 last full day of campaigning tomorrow.
Updated at 18.42 EDT
Prime minister’s ‘crash tackle’ on child ‘an error from both of them, minister says
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 afterward, 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? …
Oh, he seems fine. TI thinks the little boy is a great rock star at school today. hese things can happen when you get out there and kick a footy with the prime minister.
Told the child’s name is Luca, Robert says: “Oh, superb!”
Scott Morrison knocks over the child while playing soccer – video report
Updated at 18.50 EDT
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):
I am not usually the one that handles looking 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 return to the ministry, and yet, you know, he’s not publicly available. That’s a bit odd.
Empl. Ster Stuart Robert. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
The prime minister has addressed those issues, Patricia. Although the question I get asked always is who’s willow’s defense minister if Labour indeed wins. Who will run that when Mr. Albanese and Ms. Wong shoot off overseas?
Q: Yeah, but I’m asking you about your stood down and stood aside education minister.
Q: If you win on Saturday, why should he be reinstated as a cabinet minister? The prime minister has already responded to that.
Well, that’s a question for the prime minister.
Q: But I’m asking you.
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.
Updated at 18.37 EDT
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 Coalition government did not shut the scheme down until a court found it illegal. The Coalition government decided to automate the debt notices. The government then settled a class action.
Q: Anthony Albanese says this could cost lives on your $3.3bn efficiency dividend across the public service. He cites the robodebt disaster when he says that taking humans out of human services has devastating consequences for real people. Has he got the point? You were the government minister, the government services minister during robodebt.
I’m not taking lectures from Mr. Albanese, who, through his policy, killed people on roofs with pink batts and slaughtered them at sea because they couldn’t stop illegal boats coming to Australian waters.
Q: Slaughtered at sea?
They unraveled the border protection policies, but he still does not believe in them, and the death and destruction at seas … what is outrageous is that he could lecture us about the loss of life is simply unconscionable. Unconscionable.
Q: Well, I’m asking you a question about robodebt. And you were the minister responsible.
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 heartbreaking stories. On the substantive question of staffing and humans doing this work, do you concede that that was a mistake of your government?
We’ve said that using automation or annualized tax figures to determine eligibility for fortnight-by-fortnight income welfare payments lacks sufficiency. This process has been going on 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 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 proving the debt existed and the lack of human review of the notes, which was found to be unlawful.
Updated at 18.33 EDT
Stuart Robert won’t say what he thinks the minimum wage increase should be:
We all believe wages should go up … so there’s an expectation from the Fair Work Commission they’ll move on to 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 its job.
I won’t do what Mr. Albanese does and pluck out smiling emojis and loose comments to appease a journalist’s interesting question.
Disciplined operators run the economy, so we’re the best government to continue to lead us forward. Because we are disciplined, we are reasonable and sound.
ted at 18.10 EDT
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 that on an annualized basis, circa seven of the last eight years, wages have been higher [than inflation], and unemployment is now hitting a record level. Last month, of course, 3.954 rounded up to 4% … We have hit the bar set by Labor on any class at any time, and 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.
Updated at 18.09 EDT
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 responsible”.
Labor has come under strong question for deciding to wait until just 48 hours before election day to release the costings of its policies. Albanese continually explains that this aligns with other oppositions, including Tony Abbott in 2013. Still, the Coalition had surfaced prior quotes from Albanese 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 will invest more money in aged care because we can’t afford to do that.
Asked whether Labor’s approach was transparent, he said:
We have been evident. For eWe has put out the costings over the forward estimates for our policies and commitments.
On 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 treated 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.
Albanese claimed nine days before that election that the Coalition would wait until two days before polling day to “produce a whole lot of paper without time for anyone to analyze it”.
Updated at 18.06 EDT
Anthony Albanese has lashed the Coalition for making “fun of someone’s name in their advertising”, criticizing 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 community members”.
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 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 my age and older in this room will know that people made fun of your name at school. 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 to reference the Coalition’s major attack line, “It won’t be easy under Albanese.” Numerous attendees at the event said they had 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 calls a “final sprint” in the last two days of the election campaign. The Labor leader and senior shadow ministers will visit 20 marginal Liberal-held electorates in the next two days, including key seats Brisbane, Longman, Boothby, Bass, Braddon, and Chisholm.
The Labor leader will visit Bennelong this morning before returning to Queensland today. The party will also release its long-awaited election policy costings later today after sustained media pressure on Albanese to outline the cost of his plans.
Updated at 17.53 EDT
The Australian Council of Trade Unions has released polling from the Redbridge group showing that 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. 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 backward 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 that refuses to fight for wage growth. Thanks to this government’s policies to keep wages low, people are going backward.
Every prime minister has the power to generate wage growth – they can support increases in the annual wage review and grant real pay raises for their workforce, one of the country’s 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 that ensure his employees can’t keep pace with the cost of living.
Updated at 18.04 EDT
I’m sorry if you have The Final Countdown stuck in your head. (At least it’s better than There’s a Hole in the Bucket.) Two sleeps to go …
Anthony Albanese had learned one of the lessons of 2019 when the Labor campaign slowed to almost a stop in the final days following Bob Hawke’s death. Labor’s campaign is about to embark on an absolute seat blitz, with 20 seats to be visited before the polls close. That cost seats. So Albanese will cross-cross the country as he tries to shore up everything Labor holds and win enough to form a 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 seat blitz – if the polls are correct and he’s lost some inner-city seats to independents, he needs to make that up with some outer-suburban ones. Don’t underestimate his ability to do it.
Let’s say new records are being set. 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 not very comfortable.