Bill Shorten looked comfortable with Annabel Crabb in Kitchen Cabinet. He seems fresh as a daisy this late in the campaign. I think he has found the way of being in the moment, so nothing knocks him off balance, not even the bossy Sarah Ferguson, who seemed to get under Malcolm Turnbull’s skin in her Four Corners interviews. On Thursday he sailed through a disgraceful interview with Patricia Karvelas on ABC RN Drive intended to humiliate him, and another spiky and mostly irrelevant interview with the airhead Leigh Sales. He almost looks born to run.
Same sex marriage
The big story mid-week was said to be same sex marriage, I think because The Australian ran a story (paywalled – Google Dennis Shanahan Bill Shorten flips on gay marriage plebiscite) saying he’s flipped in his views from 2103 about a plebiscite. Apparently it’s a character weakness to change your mind.
He told Annabell Crabb:
- the “steep learning curve” of raising children helped him realise that “people’s relationships don’t need opinion polls from other people”.
Earlier he told ABC RN:
- “Community attitudes have moved on in Australia, I think that is a demonstrable fact, [and] secondly when you look at the experience in Ireland, over a year ago, some of the arguments which emerged were really ugly and repugnant.”
Brian Tobin says Ireland shows why we shouldn’t go down that track.
I doubt the issue will change anyone’s vote, however.
In the budget this year the government cut over $1 billion out of the aged care budget. Apparently there was a projected $3.8 billion blowout in cost of the payments.
UnitingCare Australia commissioned Ansell Strategic to ask 501 aged care services across the country how the budget changes would affect them. UnitingCare’s Steve Teulan:
And what they found is that when these changes are fully implemented, the reduction in funding across the board for aged care residents is over $6,500 a year, which is over, about 11 per cent of the funding.
The extent of these cuts are huge. If there had been $6,500 reduction in the aged care pension we would see riots in the streets.
The Government says the new formula will yield $1.2 billion in “efficiencies”, the consultants say the number is twice that.
The implications are that some cases may have to be handed over to hospitals.
Labor has promised a comprehensive review, but no restoration of funding at this stage.
The ABC has two sites devoted to the comparison of policies. At Spot the difference: Where the parties diverge on policy a brief outline is given of the contrasting policies for the Coalition, Labor and the Greens.
More in depth comparisons between the major parties is given at Election 2016: Where the parties stand on the big issues
Fairfax-Ipsos poll taken June 26-29 has the major parties 50-50. But if the respondents are asked where their second preferences will go, it falls 51-49 to Labor. Now 27% don’t want to vote for the two majors, compared to 21% in 2013.
I’ve heard it said that if you combine voting intentions, the informal vote and the numbers who haven’t enrolled, only 60% of Australian adults vote Labor or LNP at any one time, not all of them rusted on. This represents a major disengagement with the traditional parties. But back to the Ipsos poll:
- the real story of the campaign revealed by the Ipsos poll lies in the Coalition’s primary vote. It has fallen from 44 per cent to 40 per cent since the campaign began, and it is down a full 6 percentage points on the level recorded at the 2013 election.
This would be a monstrous problem for the Coalition if it were not for the fact that Labor’s primary vote remains stuck at 33 per cent at the end of the campaign – where it was at the beginning of the campaign and where it was at the 2013 election.
Essential Poll has Labor 51-49, and today Galaxy, which does the Newspoll polling was the reverse.
So it’s down to individual seats and the election is still there to be won or lost. Galaxy did marginal seat polling where the swing to Labor was less than the national swing. Guardian Australia’s analysis of LNP infrastructure promises found that election boondoggles flowed to 73 Coalition seats and just four Labor seats, although several others serve multiple electorates including Labor seats.
With Essential and Galaxy the Greens only get 10% compared to 13% in the latest Fairfax-Ipsos. I think they may struggle to get a second senator in Queensland, and won’t in SA. In Queensland the new far right, anti-Muslim Australian Liberty Party, say they have 3.9 per cent of the vote and have exchanged preferences with Pauline Hanson, making her election almost certain and the senate more difficult.
In SA a Lonergan Research poll shows:
- the Liberal Party at 36 per cent, Labor at 26 per cent, NXT at 24 per cent, the Greens 6 per cent, Family First 5 per cent and others 3 per cent.
That puts NXT in line to possibly shake a few seats loose in the lower house. One earlier poll put his vote at 39% in Mayo.
The Greens fancy themselves for a few more lower house seats like Batman and Higgins, possibly Wills and Melbourne Ports, so Turnbull’s nightmare may come to pass.
Shorten has been hammering health and Medicare, Turnbull stability economic leadership. Shorten reckons the real stability is with Labor and their recent record of unity. He also makes the point that fairness and ordinary people’s lives matter.
Paul Strangio says Shorten has become a consensus builder and has brought healing to the Party. Also a cunsultative style to leadership:
In my decision-making, I have always consulted with the widest array of people and will continue to do so as prime minister … My belief is that effective leadership does not mean accumulating power. On the contrary it has been my experience that devolving power had the potential to provide superior process and policy.
- Any government I lead will operate in a collegial, consultative manner where cabinet decision-making processes and caucus debate are taken seriously. To me decentralising power is more than a noble ambition or slogan. It is a style of leadership that works.
He may well keep the leadership should Labor lose.
Shorten makes the specific point that the fundamental reason for Brexit is that many people feel they have been left behind while conspicuous wealth grows at the top, and politicians are just not listening to them. Only the left can fix this problem. Whether he has gone far enough is a question.
Turnbull, on the other hand, has committed to trickle-down economics. When pressed about adequate Medicare, health and schools, he always comes back to the economy. But here his theory is that big companies will invest now, anticipating tax cuts and hence grow the economy, even though there will be three elections, no doubt all with difficult senates, before the tax cuts come through.
He also doesn’t see that companies are unlikely to invest if consumers have no discretionary spending available. So the story has to be foreign investment in smart industries to sell to the world. Foreign investors are more likely be interested in taking over our infrastructure, our utilities, our farms and our real estate.
The transformation of Malcolm
Even late in the campaign hopes have been expressed that Turnbull will achieve a mandate from the people and so will be able to deal with the troglodytes in the Coalition parties, allowing the free-ranging liberal to hold sway.
I think Peter Hartcher got it right when he said Turnbull has now morphed into an advocate for his conservative party:
- Malcolm Turnbull has completed his transformation from progressive firebrand to ambassador for the conservative brand.
There was no room in his 4000 word speech at the Liberal campaign launch for the words “same sex marriage”.
Climate change rated a glancing mention, treated in fewer than 50 words.
And the only time he spoke the word “fairness” was to promise fairness between generations by not bequeathing debt.
Turnbull provided almost a caricature of Coalition brand identification, overwhelmingly emphasising economic growth and border security.
Shorten is right, Turnbull has been changed by his party. He actually told Annabel Crabb, that what he thinks is only one voice and that he has to consult his cabinet. This leaves the smooth-talking barrister advocating any old rubbish his motley team come up with.
So people have to be aware that they are not voting for Turnbull the man, they are voting for Turnbull the barrister advocating for the diverse and conflicting ideologies the Coalition parties contain, and a National Party that will brook no nonsense on important matters including climate change.
Hartcher also points out that budget-wise Labor, for a measly $16.5 billion over expenditure approaching $2 trillion in the forward estimates, reinforced their brand caricature of big spending.
So who in fact has the better plan? I don’t always agree with Saul Eslake, but this probably nails it:
- “I accept the theoretical case advanced by both sides – that cutting company taxes can boost economic growth and employment and better targeted spending on education and infrastructure can boost economic growth over the long run,” says Eslake, a vice-chancellor’s fellow at the University of Tasmania.
“But both sides’ arguments struggle to come up with compelling empirical evidence to support the theoretical belief. Ultimately, while there is a stark choice, it’s ultimately one that can’t be resolved by pointing to compelling economic evidence. It’s more a values choice.”(Emphasis added)