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Plibersek says election ‘a test of leadership, not memory’ after Albanese mistake – As it happened

What we learned today, Monday 11 April

That’s a wrap for today – don’t worry, the six-week election campaign has a way to run yet. There was plenty of talk today about Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s cash rate gaffe, but that’s not all that happened, by any means:

  • There’s government secrecy about a $500,000 payout to Alan Tudge’s former staffer Rachelle Miller – and that comes on top of the ongoing murkiness around Tudge’s actual job.
  • Sarah Martin teased out Labor’s stance on key election issues.
  • Josh Butler took us inside the campaign “nerve centres”. (Nervous centres, occasionally).
  • Political parties are being urged to set a referendum date for a voice to parliament, Lorena Allam reported.
  • Just in case you thought the culture wars had called a precarious truce, prime minister Scott Morrison supported those who want to stop trans women playing in women’s sports.
  • And, yes, Albanese had to “fess up” after a making a mistake on the unemployment and cash rates.
  • In less political news, the pandemic is still raging, people are still dying and thousands are in hospital.

Until tomorrow! Amy Remeikis is going to face the firehose of multiple interviews again in the morning, and I’ll see you in the afternoon.


Cait Kelly has all the answers you need on telephone voting for the 2022 election (if you’re Covid positive – otherwise, if possible, get out there and get your democracy sausage!).

“The gift of a gaffe”. Josh Butler has wrapped up the main points of the first (sort of) day of the 2022 election campaign, where prime minister Scott Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese went, and what they did:

Josh Butler has been looking for answers on the payout to Alan Tudge’s former staffer, Rachelle Miller:

Need to catch up on today? Katharine Murphy, the politics team, and the pod team have you covered every day with new ear candy – the Campaign catchup. Today’s has just landed:

There are concerns in the Northern Territory about low voter enrolment in Indigenous communities, AAP reports.

The Northern Land Council says the Australian Electoral Commission has failed to implement its automatic enrolment policy in remote communities. That means about 30% of eligible residents aren’t on the electoral roll. NLC chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said:

This whole business that has been going on for far too long.

We still see far too many of our mob being left off the roll.

Any policy that diminishes the democratic rights of one group of citizens diminishes the rights of everyone.


I’d forgotten about this – but it may explain why former prime minister John Howard did not leap to condemn Labor leader Anthony Albanese:

“History is calling”. Lorena Allam on the Uluru Statement from the Heart creators’ push for a referendum:

An unlikely ally for Labor leader Anthony Albanese:

Some more details on the news earlier that prime minister Scott Morrison applauded Coalition women pushing to ban trans women competing in women’s sports from Katharine Murphy, Josh Butler and Sarah Martin:

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek is up now, and she repeats her line that the election is not a memory test, but a leadership test. She gets the unemployment rate right (sigh).

Joyce is also asked about text messages that were leaked, in which he called prime minister Scott Morrison a liar.

He says they were private messages, and that Morrison has honoured every undertaking he has made. “I find him a person I can trust and [one] of conviction,” he says, adding it would be “shallow” to use those texts in the context of the election campaign. Then it’s on to the confusion surrounding the employment status of Alan Tudge. Asked if he was aware that Tudge was still in cabinet, Joyce says:

Well, he’s not been paid a cabinet salary. He’s been stood aside and the only people who can remove him completely of course are the people in his electorate. I will let them make that decision. I personally think he was doing a very good job.

And he says it was “his choice” to resign his ministerial position back in 2018. Finally, he says the idea the Liberal Party and the Nationals could split the Coalition if they end up in opposition is: “Incredibly unlikely, almost impossible”.


Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is in the safe Nationals seat of Nicholls, in Victoria. He is getting asked about... yep, the cash rate.

He tells the ABC:

Well, it’s, you’re asking me the right questions as an accountant. It’s one of the record lows, apparently, ten basis points, 0.1 of a per cent. This is remarkably low. I wouldn’t suggest for one second it will stay there.

He also nails the unemployment rate.

Election 'a test of leadership, not memory': Plibersek

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek was in Brisbane today, and the first question she was asked was whether Labor leader Anthony Albanese was “fit to be prime minister”, because he stuffed up when asked about the cash rate. She said an election was “not a test of memory”. “It’s a test of leadership,” she said.

Plibersek was also quizzed on the cash rate and the unemployment rate.

It will be interesting to see how long the after effects of this morning’s clanger will linger.


Australia could be the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer, research has found.

AAP has come through with some good news. The service reports that a study published in the British Medical Journal today analysed the results from the national screening program for human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer.

The program picked up 546 cancers, including 90 that a pap test would not have found. And the HPV vaccination program has driven down the incidence of HPV. Lead researcher, associate professor Megan Smith, said:

Our findings are a clear indication that the renewed cervical screening program and the HPV vaccination program are working.

This data shows Australia is well on track to become the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer.

Labor’s key policies – perhaps more important than whether Labor leader Anthony Albanese can reel off the cash rate? Sarah Martin has had a fossick through his plans:

The latest from the trail:

Amy Remeikis mentioned below that the magical mystery tour continues, with journalists following the leaders into locations unknown. It’s a weird concept, getting on a plane then peering out the window for clues to which direction you’re heading in.

Prime minister Scott Morrison’s entourage has been in Gilmore. And everything you need to know about Gilmore is right here in our seat explorer.

Guardian journalists have been scattered far and wide to get a close look at many of the critical seats in this election. Sarah Martin was dispatched to ... you guessed it, Gilmore. Read all about the people and that “bloody bandicoot”:


Don’t tell anyone I’m sharing a Betoota Advocate tweet here. But I have a reason. Queensland independent Bob Katter (remember, the guy who wants kids to have rifles) also wants a “fortress wall of missiles”.

It’s listed in the News Limited papers this morning as one of his demands if he is called on to help decide who forms government, in the case of a hung parliament. Stay tuned ...


Spare a thought for Amy Remeikis, who had to keep across a crushing avalanche of media appearances from the two leaders this morning. My brain would have gone on the fritz the thirteenth time I heard the same old talking points.

But she’ll be back tomorrow to do it all again!


The campaigns are whirring on to their next locations. We don’t find out in advance – neither do the journalists on the planes/buses – it’s a ‘surprise, you are now in insert electorate name’ sort of deal. Partly to stop people from organising protests, partly to keep journalists on their toes, partly so we don’t report when the campaign suddenly switches gears (which happens).

I am going to hand the blog to the amazing Tory Shepherd, who will take you through the evening.

For a first (full, official) day of campaigning, it has certainly had a lot going on. It’s going to be that sort of campaign. Again – stay hydrated, peeps.

I’ll be back early tomorrow morning. Take care of you.


And in case you were wondering, this was Scott Morrison’s response when he didn’t know the cost of milk and bread back in February:

Do you want the sourdough? And if we’re going to get on to milk, are we just going to be the ones that come from dairy? Or is it the almond? I mean, you go to most family’s fridges, they’ve got three types of different milk. I don’t know what you put in your coffee, but, you know, look, honestly, the gotcha stuff from gallery journalists, whatever.

I was honest with people yesterday, and people know that. And yeah $2.60, $3.40, $1.60 to $1.80, you know, a litre, yeah, that’s what it is. But what matters is the economic policies and the plans that we have to keep putting downward pressure on costs of living. That’s what matters. And that’s what we’re doing.


He does not rule out that there won’t be any other mistakes.

Anthony Albanese:

Will I be perfect? No, but I’ll tell you want all doing this if I ever do make a mistake, I’ll put the hand up. I’ll own it. I’ll take responsibility, and I’ll sit about fixing it. That’s what I did today, and that’s the way they would have I would approach being prime minister of this country.

Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese speaking to reporters earlier this morning on day 1 of the 2022 federal election campaign. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


There is now a pop quiz on the price of goods.

Anthony Albanese:

Petrol: “They’re around about $1.90. They’ve fallen substantially as a result of the excise cut. But the last time I filled up was in [Marrickville] was $2.20.”

Bread: “Well, bread at Kings Hot Bread is $2 and went up from $1.80, once I spoke about it.”

Milk: “Being that milk varies in price depending upon what you buy, in terms of two litre, home brand is about $2.60. I myself buy Paul’s Smart Milk. That varies a little bit but it’s around $2.15 for a litre.”


On the Coalition’s attacks over the gaffe, and not knowing the cash rate, Anthony Albanese says:

I do know the official cash rate. It’s point one. But the thing that matters to people is their interest rates that they pay and no one out there is paying 0.1% on their mortgage either.

So the cash rate feeds into interest rates, of course. But we have a government that’s presided over a trillion dollars of debt with not much to show for it. Productivity has done nothing under this government. They doubled the debt even before the pandemic. They don’t have an economic plan for the future. You have real wages that have never been ... real wages are the most important indicator in terms of cost of living.


Anthony Albanese says the first question he was asked about the unemployment rate was about the Tasmanian unemployment rate (which it was):

So when you have a range of questions fired at you, I should – I don’t want to make excuses, I should have said 4%. I accept that. I accept responsibility for that.


Anthony Albanese is asked what the inflation rate is.

He gets it (and laughs):

The inflation rate is 3.5 and the wages rate is 2.3 and that is why the cost of inflation is much higher than the cost of living, that is why people are under pressure.

On not knowing the unemployment rate, he says:

It was a mistake. And I will own it. You can come up with a whole range of reasons a whole lot of figures around, of course – the average unemployment rate under this government is 5.7.

Under us, it was 5.1. That was a question that I thought when people are firing questions at you, but it was it was a mistake. I accept it. I own up to it. I’m not blaming anyone else. I’m accepting responsibility. That’s what leaders do.

Q: I don’t want to get melodramatic here. But is this a day you lost the election?

Anthony Albanese:

You are being melodramatic. People make mistakes and when it comes to figures quite often, I don’t want to get into the prime minister’s mistakes that have been made. But they they have been, you know, and recently there was a beauty with regard to how many how many years four and three make up.

You know, people make mistakes. That happens. I face up to it, I’m accepting responsibility for it. And that’s it.

Q: It’s been reported you’ve apologised to your colleagues about it today. Is that true?


No. Well, people make mistakes. The key the key test of character, Andrew, is that when you make a mistake, do you own it? Do you set about fixing it? And then do you accept responsibility for it? I accept responsibility for it.


Anthony Albanese is having a very quick sit-down interview with Sky News’ political editor, Andrew Clennell, as he attempts to explain his fumble over the cash rate and unemployment rate questions.

This is a very quick turnaround – and it shows how seriously the Labor campaign is treating it.


Here is Labor’s shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, speaking to ABC radio this morning about the economy:

I think when you look at the economy in its entirety, the government has not done a good job managing the economy. Even with that unemployment rate falling in welcome ways to back where it was during the last Labor government at one point, we’ve still got real wages going backwards, we’ve still got everything going up except people’s wages, we’ve still got this trillion dollars in debt and not enough to show for it, and no plan for a stronger economy beyond the election.

We’re happy to have a contest on the economy during this election. The prime minister says he wants that too. We say bring it on.

Because as you’ve just heard in that interview that you [ABC radio] ran from the prime minister, you can’t believe a word that he says about the economy. He lies about taxes. He lies about spending. He lies about debt and deficit. He lies about the economy more broadly. That’s because he needs to distract from the mistakes he’s made, which has delivered a legacy of falling wages and a trillion dollars in debt with nothing to show for it.


I am getting a few messages about odds from betting agencies and why I’m not including it in the blog, given poll shifts (the betting agencies have Labor as the favourite).

One – because it’s basically just an advertisement for betting agencies and we get enough of that.

Two – it is no more accurate. They had Labor ahead by a long shot at the last election, and in some cases closed books and paid out a Labor win before the election was even held. We know how that turned out.

Three – we don’t need to encourage more gambling in this country.


Adam Bandt, the leader of the Greens has finished his first press conference. He is in Brisbane.

Here is what he has to say about the campaign so far:

We’ve got a climate crisis. We’ve got a housing affordability crisis, and the cost of living is soaring. And the Liberal government aided by the Labor opposition is out to make things worse.

This might be our last chance to tackle the climate crisis, and to ensure everyone in this country is able to afford a roof over their head and meet the costs of living. And instead, we’ve got governments that are pushing up the price of housing and opening up more coal and gas mines, with the opposition’s support.

Queensland will be crucial in the election, especially in the Senate, where Penny Allman-Payne is taking on Pauline Hanson, and the lower house seats of Griffith, Brisbane and Ryan.

We are offering a real alternative that will tackle the climate crisis by stopping new coal and gas mines being opened, but also address the cost of living by getting dental and mental health into Medicare, making housing more affordable and wiping student debt.

Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt and team
Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt addresses the media flanked by his team on Day 1 of the 2022 federal election campaign in Brisbane, Monday, April 11, 2022. Photograph: Russell Freeman/AAP


World-first trial finds way to reduce PFAS

Stepping out of politics for a moment, because this is very encouraging news for anyone who lives near one of the bases where these chemicals have been used, as well as the people who were contaminated using them as part of their jobs.

Via AAP:

A world-first trial using Victorian firefighters has found a way to reduce blood levels of potentially harmful chemicals often present in fire-fighting foams.

A world-first clinical trial, undertaken by Macquarie University and Fire Rescue Victoria, found that regular blood or plasma donations can reduce PFAS levels in blood.

It is the first time an intervention has been found to reduce PFAS levels.

PFAS are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of chemicals often used in fire-fighting foam as well as in a range of other industrial applications. You can read more about them here.


And just a reminder, new legislation has meant changes to pre-polling – that will be open just two weeks before the close of the polls.


If you need a postal vote this election, you can apply for one through the AEC directly.

You can find that here.


As part of the absolute media blitz this morning, Scott Morrison spoke to Sydney radio 2GB – and he had this to say about his campaign message:

I’m not pretending to be anyone else. I’m standing before the Australian people. They know my faults, but they also know my strengths, and they know my record, and they know that we’ve stood up to China. We stood up to the economic challenges that we faced. We kept people in work and we’ve got a strong economic plan to keep doing that into the future. And so choices have consequences in elections.

And by voting Labor, they’ll be risking Australia’s economic recovery and a strong economy that is needed for a stronger future.

Q: In that answer, and in what you’ve said at the press conference yesterday, I’ve noticed a shift. This business about, I’m not perfect, yes, we’ve made mistakes. Some of the information we had was also not on the money. It is a good thing to be able to say to people, I am human. I make mistakes, because at the end of the day, so do we.


Well, that’s look, that’s true. And look, the one thing people say to me, when I get around the country and, you know, the media doesn’t report on the nice things people say. But even here, just last night, where I’ve been down here in Nowra, people say, “gosh, the government’s had to deal with a lot over the last three years, three and a half years.” And that’s true. We have. But more importantly, Australians have.

And every single one of my plans that has helped us get through this pandemic and setting us up for the future has been based on my passionate love and belief in the Australian people. Their resilience, their strength, their character. I don’t think government is the answer. I think they are the answer. And that’s what my plans have always backed in. So by voting Liberal, you’re voting for yourself. You’re voting for someone who backs you in to achieve what you want to achieve, not what the government says you should be doing.


I have had a couple of questions on this – and no judgement, things like this can be complicated and we often use the terms without explaining what they actually mean.

The cash rate (also known as the overnight cash rate) is the main interest rate in the economy. The major banks use it to set their own interest rates when lending for mortgages (and to a lesser extent business and personal loans)

It is the cost of money. The cash rate is the interest rate the banks use every night to lend money to each other and so if the cash rate starts rising, than the cost of money starts getting more expensive, so interest rates on loans will rise too.

The cash rate is different to the mortgage rate. Banks use the cash rate as a foundation to then charge fixed and variable rates on loans.

The Reserve Bank of Australia sets the cash rate.


Phone voting available for people in Covid isolation on election day

What happens if you are in Covid isolation on voting day?

The AEC has the answer (via AAP):

Australians will still be able to vote on election day if stuck in Covid-19 isolation as a confirmed case or close contact.

The Australian Electoral Commission says it will roll out a telephone voting system for those subject to isolation orders on the day of the 21 May poll.

“We are working on a telephone voting option, which will be a first,” AEC boss Tom Rogers told ABC Radio on Monday.

Voters who have missed pre-polling and postal vote options will have to make a declaration they’re subject to a health order to access the “emergency” measure.

Rogers said the declaration would stop people “gumming up” the system for others.

If we have to read out the Senate ballot paper for people in telephone voting, it’s going to take some time. So I urge people to only use that if they are actually subject to that health order.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases and most close contacts are currently required to spend seven days in isolation across the country.

National cabinet last month agreed it would remove the requirement for close contacts, contingent on health advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

But the expert health body recommended the seven-day isolation rule for close contacts remain until the peak passes for the current Omicron wave, expected sometime in April.

Latest 24-hour Covid data from across Australia:

  • NSW: 13,468 cases, three deaths, 1568 in hospital, 62 in ICU.
  • Victoria: 9,597 cases, one death, 381 in hospital, 20 in ICU.
  • Queensland: 6,667 cases, no deaths, 518 in hospital, 14 in ICU.
  • Tasmania: 1,650 cases, no deaths, 56 in hospital, one in ICU.
  • Northern Territory: 375 cases, no deaths, 31 in hospital, one in ICU.
  • Western Australia: 4,993 cases, no deaths, 240 in hospital, eight in ICU.


And the response to the response:

Anthony Albanese addresses his rates stumble

Anthony Albanese has addressed his rates gaffe while campaigning in Devonport:


The guns have officially gone off and said farewell to the 46th parliament, which means it is officially done and dusted.

But just before it was prorogued some final reports went up. Including this one from the auditor general – which looked at the performance of the social services department.

It’s not a great report for the social services department. Particularly when it comes to reducing violence against women and children.

The auditor general found the target the department refers to is about its own activity – not reducing violence.

Here was the auditor general’s conclusion:

Inappropriate performance measures presented in the annual performance statements I assessed performance measure 2.1.2-11 as not being appropriate. The target applied to report against performance measure 2.1.2-1 relates to the implementation of the Entity’s initiatives as part of the ‘National Plan to reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22’. The target is a measure of the Entity’s activity and does not relate directly to the achievement of the Entity’s purposes related to performance measure 2.1.2-1 which is contributing to a reduction in violence against women and their children.

Furthermore, I was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence over the completeness and accuracy of the Entity’s records in regard to the reported achievement of this measure.

I also assessed performance measure 2.1.5-1 as only partially appropriate. The result reported against performance measure 2.1.5-1 is based on a survey of volunteer grant recipients, who were asked whether the grants received had made it easier for the recipients to achieve their goals.

Given that the terms of the agreement under which the grant payments were made required recipients to commit to using grant funds to achieve their goals, I have assessed that the survey question and target is not free from bias.

As a result, these performance measures are not appropriate and, therefore, the reporting of the Entity’s annual performance statements with respect to these measures does not comply with Division 3 of Part 2-3 of the Act.


The view from Murph

Good morning folks. Depending on your inclination, this is day one or day two of the election campaign.

We’ve just done the first real hustings day with the two leaders accompanied by the travelling media packs.

If you’ve been watching, you’ll have noticed the step up in tempo that happens once we cross the boundary from the faux campaign to the real one.

Quick summary.

This morning, Anthony Albanese couldn’t say what the current unemployment rate or the official cash rate was. Scott Morrison was dogged by questions about Alan Tudge – is he on the frontbench or not, and will he return to the cabinet?

Morrison was also campaigning with Andrew Constance this morning in the seat of Gilmore.

Constance, when still a minister in the New South Wales government, bagged Morrison over his response to the catastrophic bushfires in 2019-20.

Journalists were pretty interested this morning in whether or not Constance still held the views he had back then.

Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance and Scott Morrison speak to the media on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022.
Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance and Scott Morrison speak to the media on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Constance’s response to the questions was a duck and weave – I love my community and my community doesn’t need this negativity.

I get that a lot of readers will be wondering whether it actually matters that Albanese couldn’t recall the unemployment rate and the cash rate.

Some readers will be dreading six weeks of pop quizzes on the hustings about everything from the price of a donkey ride at the local fete to the iron ore forecast.

Some readers will think this is just gotcha journalism, which is a waste of bandwidth when there are so many other important things to canvas with the leaders. That’s true enough at a substantive level.

But Albanese’s miss on the two stats this morning points to a lack of sharpness, or a lack of basic preparation.

Misses like this can then assume broader campaign symbolism – Albanese’s messaging is too sludgy, or his mind isn’t fully in the contest, or he can’t multi-task like a prime minister has to do at all hours of the day and the night – symbolism that then gets weaponised by your opponent.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese speaks to the media on day one of the 2022 federal election campaign in Launceston, Monday 11 April 2022.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese speaks to the media on day one of the 2022 federal election campaign in Launceston, Monday 11 April 2022. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

If the pain persists, it creates a negative feedback loop. This campaign is already brutal. It will get a lot worse.

Labor has a tendency to treat campaigns like a conversation rather than a pitched battle where, at the end, there’s one winner and one loser.

Morrison never treats an election campaign like a conversation. For him, elections are about nailing your message, day in and day out, not treating the media or the voters like they are grown ups.

Morrison assumes the voters who decide election outcomes devote about 30 seconds of bandwidth each day to an election contest if he’s lucky, so that’s your window to land a message.

Perhaps this goes without saying. Albanese has an appearance problem with failing to recall pertinent stats. He needs to look at it because appearances matter.

Morrison has a substance problem with the treatment of Alan Tudge who is apparently both on and off the frontbench.

This is a shocker.


Barnaby Joyce will be holding his first press conference in Yarrawonga, which is in the electorate of Nicholls.

The Nationals are facing a three prong contest to hold the seat (sitting member Damian Drum is retiring).


Tim Wilson is facing a strong challenge from independent candidate, Zoe Daniel who officially launched her campaign on the weekend.

Daniel has already addressed the Wilson corflute vandalism:

Meanwhile, Goldstein MP Tim Wilson doesn’t believe anyone in his electorate would vandalise a corflute:

Sally McManus had a bit to say about wage growth (and the lack of it) and the cost of living (rising) this morning on the ABC, focussing on the issues for those in casual work:

It’s very, very hard to ask for a pay rise when you’re in insecure work or a casual job. And that issue really needs hard work to be fixed. It’s part of the problem and the thing is that the current federal government has just shown no inclination whatsoever to do anything about it.

And we need to have a government that does. At the moment, wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. Every single person, every working person, is really feeling that squeeze.

And what you can do to fix it is – you can make sure that if it’s a permanent ongoing job, that it has permanent ongoing rights. And that would mean that more workers have better bargaining power to get pay rises. And that is some of the long-term changes that need to happen and we can’t continue to sit on our hands and do nothing about it.


The announcements today, for those interested were both local to the seats the parties were campaigning in:

  • Labor promised $6.5m to support children with hearing loss.
  • The Coalition committed to a $40m road improvement package for Gilmore.


Finance minister Simon Birmingham has been very quick to respond to Anthony Albanese not knowing the cash rate or the unemployment rate in his press conference today:

Today Anthony Albanese was unable to name either the Reserve Bank of Australia’s official cash rate, nor what the unemployment rate is.

The interest rate matters.

Keeping them as low as possible matters.

It affects how much mortgages cost. It affects family budgets.

Unemployment matters.

Keeping it as low as possible matters.

It’s about how many Australians are in a job. It’s about how many Australians are earning a wage to support themselves and their family.

If you don’t know what the interest rate is, you can’t be trusted to put the right policies in place to keep them low.

If you don’t know what the unemployment rate is, you can’t be trusted to keep Australians in jobs.

More than 2.8m households have a mortgage on their family home. That’s 2.8m households who would suffer higher repayments under a Labor government.

Labor has no economic plan, which means taxes will always be higher.

Under Labor, interest rates will always be higher than they need to be, because they can’t manage money.

Anthony Albanese’s weak leadership would weaken our country’s future.

The official cash rate is 0.1% and has been since November 2020.

The national unemployment rate is 4.0%.


Nine reporter Jonathan Kearsley reports there is a small protest in Gilmore where Scott Morrison is campaigning:

Looks like Scott Morrison has his own tins now too (Anthony Albanese already has his own beer).

The label says “ScoMo’s STRONG economy”.


On that point about housing affordability Scott Morrison made, it is worth revisiting a conversation economist Saul Eslake had with Alan Kohler in October 2021 about why no government seems seriously willing to do anything about the rising cost of housing (outside the negative gearing policy Labor has scrapped after losing the last election).

Eslake makes the point that there is no political advantage in helping people buy their first home. Not when there is so much established power from those who already own a home:

But the reason we keep pursuing policies that have the opposite effect to their stated intentions is because politicians know that there are at least 11 million Australians who own at least one property, within those there are more than two million who own two or more and there’s a lot more of them, therefore, than there are people who don’t own homes but would like to and for all the crocodile tears that they shed about the difficulties faced by would-be young home buyers, the reality is they don’t want to offend the vastly greater number of people who like house prices going up faster than incomes year after year and so they don’t do anything about it.


Paul Karp has already factchecked the “30 times worse” than the GFC claim:

The verdict

Morrison’s claim is good as far as it goes, but how far is that? Not very.

Yes, the Covid recession was larger than the global financial crisis. By most measures, it was not “30 times” as large, although the measure he has used is technically accurate.

The two downturns differ in that governments could fix most of the economic harm caused by Covid by lifting restrictions once the virus had been eliminated in a state or after the population was vaccinated.

Labor supported the Coalition’s Covid economic support measures, while the Coalition voted against the second stimulus package in February 2009.


And then Scott Morrison finishes on this question:

Over the past three years Gilmore received $47m in discretionary grants. To the north, that’s 12 times more than what’s been given in Whitlam, three times more than Eden-Monaro. Fiona Phillips must be a really great local member.


That will ultimately be decided by the electors of Gilmore. I know that the $40m we’re announcing today is based on a plan that Andrew has been able to bring together because he understands roads on the south coast better than anyone. He understands the needs of this community.

He knows how to get roads built, too.

That’s the other thing about Andrew, he knows how to get it done. You know, in politics, the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Can you deliver? I have the economic plan that has been tested by the most significant economic crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression and the second world war.

My team has been proven and tested in that environment which I think all Australians will acknowledge has been one of the most testing times for any government.

You know, the global financial crisis which Labor had to face last time – during that time they saw unemployment go from 4.2% to 5.7%. The crisis that we have faced has been 30 times worse. 30 times worse. The employment outcomes we have achieved have been 50% better while retaining our triple A credit rating, ensuring that unemployment fell to 4%.

That is the demonstration of a strong economic plan and the strong financial management that would be put at risk by voting for a Labor candidate here in Gilmore, and it will be secured, our stronger economy for a stronger future, by supporting Andrew Constance as our great Liberal candidate for Gilmore. Thank you very much.

Prime minister Scott Morrison and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance speak to the media on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022.
Prime minister Scott Morrison and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance speak to the media on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


“We will deal with that another time”

Scott Morrison applauds 'brave' Coalition women pushing to ban trans women competing in women's sports

We then get this exchange:

Q: This morning on 2GB you endorsed the campaign from your Warringah candidate ... which was opposing trans women competing in female sports. You said something similar about Claire Chandler’s bill?

Scott Morrison:

I did.

Q: Is this your position? If so, will you put in legislation in the next term of parliament to effectively ban trans women from competing in female sports?


I think I conveyed my own personal view on these matters. I welcome Catherine’s selection, pleased to play a role in that. I think she’s raised very important issues. I think Claire Chandler’s also been outspoken and brave on these issues. I share their views. We will have more to say about that at another time, if I do, I will. We will deal with that another time.


Q: Out of any other federal electorate in Australia, Gilmore’s median housing prices have increased the most in the last 12 months. There are around 800 people sleeping rough in Shoalhaven, people are on five to 10 years of wait lists, aged care workers sleeping in cars because they cannot afford rentals. These are people who are having a go in our electorate. Why is this OK?

Scott Morrison:

That’s not OK. That’s why we continue to make the investments we do. Let me start with housing. On housing in particular, when I was treasurer, I set up a new agency of the government and its job working with the treasurers of all the other states and territories because public housing, state housing is a state responsibility.

We borrowed money at incredibly low rates so we could loan the money to local community housing associations to develop affordable accommodation run by local associations.

We’ve put $2bn extra into the fund to ensure that can be done supporting investments made by state governments, by the New South Wales government here.

In addition to that, you are right, in regional areas, house prices have been rising. People in our major metropolitan areas, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, have been used to that for a very long time.

It’s always hard to buy a house, always. So, we at the election said we need to make it easier for people despite rising prices.

We put in place the home guarantee scheme, the homebuilder scheme. On my way here, I saw the housing estate with homes being built. That’s the best thing to reduce pressure on housing prices. We have got 300,000 Australians into their own home, directly, because of those schemes I have talked about. 300,000.

That’s because we’ve been able to take the deposit that they would otherwise had to have saved for from 20% down to 5%. If you’re a single parent, down to 2%. Now, that has saved people eight years of having to save before getting into their own home.

So, these are practical policies, that address the very issue you’ve raised. On aged care, we called the royal commission. Including the most recent budget, we have a $19.1bn plan to address the issues raised in that royal commission. They’re not easy to solve.

As the royal commission themselves said, it’s dealing with 30 years of a system with problems.

We stumped up $19.1bn dealing with everything from getting the workforce we need, the nutrition in meals, $10 extra per resident per day over, over $3bn directly to address the nutrition and direct care support for people in aged care. It’s not an easy issue to fix.

You can’t just stand up and all of a sudden make nurses miraculously appear.

The fair work commission will determine the wage outcome and of course that will be respected by the government and the industry. So, they’re not easy issues, very hard issues. I think that demonstrates why having a strong economy is so important. You can’t address housing issues. You can’t address aged care unless you know how to manage money and run a strong economy, which we’ve demonstrated.


Q: Mr Constance, do you stand by the remarks two years ago that the prime minister got the welcome he deserved? Do you believe seeing as you were a Liberal at that time, that carried weight, started a decline of the trust and faith of people in the prime minister?

Andrew Constance:

Mate, the community is crying out for some positive stuff here, right? And we’re going to deliver that. In terms of history and to your question, look, you know, we can’t reverse history here.

The reality is, to the PM’s point, I am going to be fierce in my representation of the people of Gilmore. I won’t sit there as a wall flower, I will call it how it is.

I care about the community I’ve lived in for most of my life. Our people deserve the best. You know, life is continuing to move on in a very tough way, you know, we’ve seen floods happen here. Kangaroo Valley is cut off to the north. These are the issues that matter, right? You know what, I’m proud of the representation I’ve given for community. I will keep doing it. I won’t sit quietly. I will deliver everything I commit to and I will work damn hard to make sure the people of Gilmore have a positive campaign.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance visit a mobile cannery on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance visit a mobile cannery on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Everything is just fine and dandy.


Asked about Andrew Constance’s comment on the day Scott Morrison met a hostile reaction from people in Cobargo “he got the welcome he deserved” and whether or not he would apologise over how he handled that day, Morrison says:

I already have. Look, that was a difficult day. As I moved through that community. It was in trauma. It was shell-shocked. There were those exchanges that day, but there are many other exchanges that day which were very different, as you know. There were many other exchanges that day. Andrew and I have known each other, mate, how long? 25 years thereabouts. I love it that he’s on my team because he calls it straight. He did on that day. What did we do after that? We got together, we worked out what the challenges were we had to overcome.


It is worth noting that a lot of what Alan Tudge had been prosecuting as education minister weren’t actual issues. The culture wars he was attempting to stir up while heading the portfolio were either exaggerated or not presented in good faith.

And the university sector has all but been gutted – first by missing out on jobkeeper, which led to mass job losses.


On Alan Tudge, Scott Morrison says:

Nothing has changed. Mr Tudge elected to stand aside. He is still a minister, he did not resign his commission, nor had he been dismissed.

We had a full independent inquiry into the serious matters that were raised and he was found that there was nothing that would prevent him to continue to serve as a minister. He elected to continue to stand aside.

We’ve had an acting education minister in place since then. No one has been sworn in as education minister. No one has gone to the governor general, there’s been no resignations. We’ve been clear about that. Should Mr Tudge wish to return, I know he will.

I look forward to him doing that. It’s Alan Tudge who is standing up for what our kids are taught in schools. I know why the Labor party wouldn’t want to see him come back. I don’t believe they support the same strong positions that Alan has taken on our curriculum, making sure our kids are taught the right things about Australia in our schools and that our education curriculum is not sold out to that left-wing agenda Alan has been standing up for.

I look forward to his return, because there as well as in our university sector, he’s looking to get our universities on the front foot, with our universities package that is encouraging trail blazing universities to go out and work closely with businesses.


And of course, the first question is:

Will you nominate the cash rate and the unemployment rate – your opponent couldn’t this morning?

Of course Scott Morrison is ready:

0.1% is the cash rate, it’s been there for some time. The unemployment rate I’m happy to say is 4%, falling to a 50-year low. It came down from 5.7% when we were first elected. More importantly, as we went into the pandemic, we were facing unemployment rates up around 15%. Now it’s 4%.

The rest of the answer is about the strength of the economy.


Scott Morrison press conference

Scott Morrison is up and talking all things economy while campaigning on the NSW south coast.

So far, it is all about choice.


Scott Morrison is at a cannery – his press conference will be held very soon.

Placing bets he’ll be asked the cash rate, be able to answer it, and then we continue this merry-go-round for the next 24 hours.

Scott Morrison and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance visit a mobile cannery facility on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022.
Scott Morrison and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance visit a mobile cannery facility on the NSW south coast Monday, 11 April 2022. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


It’ll be the cash rate and unemployment rate questions and failures to answer which will be remembered from that press conference.


On the conflicting statements on Alan Tudge’s position from Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese says:

Well, they’re astonishing statements from the prime minister. We had a situation whereby he stood down but apparently he’ll still got his job in the cabinet, and I just find it remarkable, and that says it all about the chaos that is on the other side of politics.


Anthony Albanese can't name unemployment rate

Asked for a third time what the RBA cash rate is, Anthony Albanese doesn’t answer.

Q: At the start of the year when the prime minister couldn’t say what the cost of petrol or the price of a loaf of bread was, he was ridiculed for being out of touch with Australians. The Reserve Bank cash rate hasn’t changed since November 2020, the unemployment rates are widely published and available. Is it your expectation then that leaders don’t have to be across these kinds of details that directly impact voters lives, are you not going to answer those kinds of specific questions for this campaign?

Anthony Albanese speaks to the media in Launceston, Monday, 11 April 2022.
Anthony Albanese speaks to the media in Launceston, Monday, 11 April 2022. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Not at all. What I was not going to enter into, is an auction in terms of the Tasmanian unemployment rate and the various rates that are put forward.

I’m happy to know that the last time I filled out petrol was $2.2 a litre.

I know how much the price of bread is, I know how much a litre of milk is. I know about those things that affect ordinary people. I’m happy to engage with you, but I’m not up to people to ask whatever questions they want. Andrew.

He is then asked:

Q: What’s the national unemployment rate?


The national unemployment rate at the moment is ... I think it’s five point ... four ... sorry I’m not sure what it is.

That sound you hear is the Coalition HQ rushing to cut up that clip of Albanese stumbling.

Shadow finance minister Katy Gallagher is then called up to answer what the cash rate is and what the unemployment rate is – and answers both correctly.


Asked why Labor is targeting an electorate where the Liberal MP supports climate change and a federal Icac, Anthony Albanese says Bridget Archer is “part of a bad government”.

This isn’t personal. Bridget Archer I regard as a decent person in my dealings with her. The problem is she’s not part of a decent government. She says she supports a national anti-corruption commission but Scott Morrison will never implement one. She says she supports actions on climate change but Scott Morrison will never do anything on climate change because he’s part of a Coalition with sceptics in the Liberal party and in the National party and, of course, himself.


Asked again what the cash rate is, Anthony Albanese again doesn’t answer it.

The press pack gets a bit rowdy prompting Anthony Albanese to say:

One at a time, polite please – I’m not Scott Morrison, I don’t run away from press conferences, OK? We’ll do it in order. Everyone will get one.

On the GST Anthony Albanese says:

We support the current system and the arrangements that are in place, I expect that state premiers will advocate for their own states.

...No surprise in that ... It’s the same position as the government.


There’s an attempt at a gotcha question over what the cash rate it.

(The official cash rate target 0.1%)

Anthony Albanese doesn’t play:

We can do the old Q and answer over 50 different figures. The truth is they are absurd.

The Reserve Bank, over the coming period, the Reserve Bank have said that there will be multiple interest rate increases regardless of who is in government. Regardless of who is in government.


After Richard Marles muddied the waters yesterday on Insiders over whether or not Jim Chalmers would be treasurer if Labor won the election, Anthony Albanese says:

Jim Chalmers will be the treasurer of Australia if I am elected. I’ve said that multiple times. I shouldn’t have to say it every day. I expect that everyone will be in their current jobs, that is my starting point. Is it possible that someone says I don’t want to do the job or what have you, that happens from time to time. But it doesn’t happen over someone like Jim Chalmers being the Treasurer of Australia.

Anthony Albanese is asked about when people could expect to see a wage increase under a Labor government (wage growth for the last decade under the Coalition has been almost non-existent) and says:

We want to see real wages increase in people’s first term. And we want to identify ways in which particular sectors can be improved.

When we were last in office, we put forward a submission for the social and committee services award.

That resulted in an increase in pay for people in that sector, there is something that I think Australians will know as well, if you look at the areas of underpayment where people are really struggling, some of the areas are defined by two things. One, the workers who were during the pandemic, the government and indeed commentators were prepared to say that they were the heroes of the pandemic.

Our aged care workers, childcare workers, cleaners, supermarket workers. They tend to also be the feminised industries that had missed out.

That is why we would make a submission to the fair work commission to say we support a wage increase. The decision will be binding on whoever is in government. In the prime minister had to concede that on the day after my budget reply.

They are the sort of measures that can see a lifting of wages.

The reserve bank governor has warned on multiple occasions that wage constraint, which is according to senior members of the government, the former finance minister is a key feature of the economic architectures.

Not by accident, by design that wages have been held back under this government. People are really doing it tough. We have a range of measures that will assist in that process, and we have pointed out that for all to see, it has been up there for more than a year.


Labor’s Bass candidate, Ross Hart (the former MP for Bass) is asked if he will cross the floor if he disagrees with Labor’s position, as Bridget Archer did.

He says he won’t need to. Also – he can’t, under Labor’s rules, without being kicked out of the party.

Labor press conference

Anthony Albanese is holding his first press conference in Launceston (the seat of Bass, held by the Liberal’s Bridget Archer).

Asked about the Newspoll drop in support for Labor (which still remains ahead) Albanese says:

We have a bold and ambitious agenda, but we have an agenda for the next term that compares to the government’s agenda. It looks like that. A blank sheet of paper. They have nothing to say in their budget two weeks ago about Australia’s future. We have a plan.


Speaking of teams, The Australian reports Sky News will be holding a debate between Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer with appearances from Campbell Newman and Bob Katter for...reasons.

Apparently, it has become known internally as the “maverick’s debate”.

That’s one way to describe it.

We’re surprised Katter has room for it, given his habit of measuring time through how often people are torn to pieces by crocodiles in far-north Queensland. Let a thousand blossoms bloom.


Scott Morrison’s personal unpopularity has meant the Coalition re-election campaign has kicked off with Barnaby Joyce reminding people that you elect a government, not just a leader.

That is eyebrow raising for a number of reasons (and not just who makes up the government) including that the last election campaign for the Coalition was basically – forget about the government, and just concentrate on Scott Morrison.

Now we have the reverse ferret approach.

Joyce (on the Seven Network):

Just like a football team, it is a team you are picking, not one person.

You have got to make the choice whether you want Peter Dutton as defence minister or Brendan O’Connor who not even Mr Albanese he wants.

Whether you want Josh Frydenberg as treasurer or Jim Chalmers, which apparently Mr Albanese he doesn’t want.

Take some other portfolios. Agriculture. David Littleproud, you’ve heard of him but Julie Collins, she has never even put her head up. This is the issue, the prime minister holds a very important office but you’re making a choice between one team or the other and that is what runs the country. In a cabinet system of government, like a football team, not just one player is on the field and Mr Albanese’s approach is basically it’s time. If it’s time, he has been there for 26 years. Time he retired?

(Politicians always put too much stock into which one of them the public recognises. I can guarantee that there would not be a huge success rate if you put a picture of David Littleproud in front of people and asked them to a) identify him and b) name his portfolio.)


Scott Morrison has spent a lot of the morning answering questions on Alan Tudge, after saying last month the education minister would not be seeking a return to the frontbench, then yesterday telling reporters Tudge remained a member of his cabinet.

This morning, Morrison said Tudge “technically” remained a minister, and will return to the frontbench if the government is re-elected.

On 4 March, Morrison said:

[Alan Tudge] has informed me that in the interests of his family and his own wellbeing and in order to focus on his re-election as the member for Aston, he is not seeking to return to the frontbench, and I support his decision.


Q: Just set this straight for me, will Alan Tudge be a member of your cabinet if you win?


Yes, he’s a member technically of our cabinet now. Alan has stood aside. That’s what Alan did. And he stood aside for his own health and family reasons, and when he is ready to return to the cabinet, then he will.

Q: Okay, so he’s a member of cabinet now without a portfolio. Is that right?


No, he has his portfolio. We have an acting minister in the education portfolio. He’s not being paid as a minister, when he stood aside. He stood aside for his own family and health reasons and he’s facing the next election in Aston, and when he’s ready to return, he will.


Just on what Paul Karp picked up on Scott Morrison’s “stump” speech on his unpopularity, here is what the PM said in response to a very similar question on ABC radio this morning – notice the similarities?

Well, this election is a choice. It’s a choice between a government that has demonstrated our strong economic and financial management skills through the worst crisis the country has seen since the second world war. Saving some 700,000 jobs through jobkeeper. Unemployment falling to 4% – the equal lowest in 48 years, retaining our AAA credit rating, which helps us keep control on the cost of living and achieving the biggest budget turnaround – over $100bn in this most recent budget, which is the biggest economic comeback we’ve seen 70 years. Now that, and we have a clear and proven economic plan and to keep that going into the future to secure our future, now that’s a choice compared to the Labor party who people know can’t manage money. They don’t know who they are or what they’ll do. They have no economic plan for the future, and they can’t manage money and they would risk at all.


Adam Bandt is kicking off the Greens first full day of official campaigning in Queensland, where the party is hoping to pick up another Senate spot.

It’s in the race with former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, Clive Palmer and LNP senator Amanda Stoker for that sixth Senate spot.

The greatest nation on earth always knows how to deliver.


Scott Morrison has spoken to 6PR Radio in Perth. Asked about his own unpopularity, Morrison delivered this stump speech:

This election is about a choice. It’s a choice about the strong economic and financial management we have shown that got us through the worst health crisis in 100 years and the worst economic crisis going back 70 years going back to the Great Depression. We’ve got unemployment down to 4%, we’ve kept our triple AAA credit rating, jobkeeper saved 700,000 jobs, and we had the biggest economic turnaround, a budget improvement of $100bn, meaning we can deliver cost of living relief right now. The choice is between a strong economic plan to keep that going, or the alternative is a Labor opposition people know can’t manage money, who are unproven, untested and would risk all that. That’s what this election is about: It’s not a popularity contest, it’s about an economic plan to keep Australia strong.

Morrison said under him the GST deal for Western Australia is a “forever deal” but Anthony Albanese would come under pressure from South Australia’s new premier Peter Malinauskas to give other states a bigger share.

The only person you can trust to keep this deal is the person who delivered it – and that’s me.

Asked about his government’s intervention in favour of Clive Palmer’s bid to force WA to reopen its border, Morrison said he “changed the decision after talking to Mark McGowan” and that Albanese “can’t sledge [his] way to becoming prime minister”.

It’s not a sledge – merely an observation of fact that Morrison’s government tried to help Palmer force the state open. Morrison responded to the suggestion the budget was an attempt to bribe voters by noting it contained long-term investment in four regions, including the Pilbara.

So, it’s not a bribe because it contained stacks of cash for projects in areas rich in marginal seats (Northern Territory, the Hunter in NSW and central and northern Queensland). Gotcha.


NSW records three Covid deaths and Victoria reports one

NSW has reported 13,468 Covid cases and three deaths:

And Victoria has reported 9,597 cases and one death:


The Wombat trail is off and ambling

(The Wombat trail is what the Nationals campaign is known as.)


Meanwhile, at Parliament House, there is a bit of pomp and ceremony to get through to officially dissolve the 46th parliament.

The governor general has issued a proclamation proroguing the 46th parliament at 9.29am today 11 April, and dissolving the House of Representatives at 9.30am.

The official secretary to the governor general, accompanied by the clerk and deputy clerk of the House of Representatives and the serjeant-at-arms, will formally read out the proclamation outside the front (public) entrance of Parliament House.

This will be followed by a 19-gun salute by the federation guard.


Life continues outside of the campaign – and with the return of domestic travel, comes all of those annoyances we had forgotten about.

(I was in and out of Melbourne airport last week and waited for more than an hour for my bags to come off the carousel, as four planes were loaded onto the same baggage belt, so it was a nice welcome back.)


Scott Morrison:

Look, Anthony Albanese has spent the last three years fighting me while I’ve been fighting me while I’ve been fighting the pandemic and standing up for Australia. Just sledging a prime minister for three years is no application for the job.

(Seemed to work for Tony Abbott, but that was a lifetime ago.)


So far, Scott Morrison’s pitch is: “We’re not perfect, but hey, who is?”

Asked about his character on the Nine Network, he pivots to the government as a whole. Asked again, he says:

My character, I’m happy to stand by every single day. Every single day because it’s the strength that we’ve needed to get through this pandemic. Not everybody agrees with everything I’ve done and not everybody will necessarily like me but what they will know is that when we face crises we ploughed through with the right plan.


Asked the same question on the same network just minutes later, Anthony Albanese answers “loyalty”.

I think [the biggest] weakness I have found is my loyalty, I am very loyal to people and sometimes that makes me a bit predictable, and that sometimes can hurt politically. I make no apologies for that, that is just who I am.

Now we just need someone to say they are probably too much of a perfectionist and we will have the trifecta.


Over on the Seven Network, Scott Morrison has been asked what his biggest weakness is, and has taken the “if anything I am too much of a perfectionist” route.

Morrison’s biggest weakness, according to Morrison? He just wants to fix things.


I tend to go straight into problem-solving mode, and I think when I do that people sometimes don’t think that people sometimes don’t think that I have really understood how they are feeling.

I assure them that I do, I come from, my father was a policeman and a brother is a paramedic, when we see a problem we want to fix it, so fires get $2bn into supporting the community, get that money to flood victims, ensure that we are putting JobKeeper in place, [I tend to go] straight into fixing things and sometimes that might not come across the right way, but what my passion is, is to ensure that we do deal with these problems that we face because we have many conflict problems and they continue, that is the nature of government, it is always hard, and I can tell you, it won’t be any easier under Labor because we know how to work these things through, and while people may criticise me for lacking a bit of that empathy on occasion, it is because I am really focused on trying to solve the problems that they are facing.


It’s hard to keep up with the prime minister’s interviews this morning. He has been across all the breakfast TV programs, is about to do Studio 10 and is also phoning in to radio 2GB. Even for the first day of campaigning, it is a lot.


Q: “If he’s done nothing wrong, why is the taxpayer on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars to [Rachelle Miller, Alan Tudge’s former staffer with whom he confirmed an extra marital relationship]? The ABC confirmed that payment. Why is he still in Cabinet when we’re paying out so much money?”

Scott Morrison:

I can’t confirm that payment. I don’t have any visibility on those issues.

Q: “Should you as prime minister have visibility?”


Of course not. Because it’s a private matter involving sensitive issue, I assume, between Ms Miller and the department of finance. And no-one can make any assumptions about any findings because they’ve been none that have been presented to me which suggests any impropriety on behalf of Mr Tudge. So that is merely speculation. And can’t be confirmed.

Q: “OK, but still, can you understand why voters would see what we’ve now confirmed with the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of money going to her and Tudge staying in Cabinet and see something of a disconnect here?”


No, because I mean I cannot confirm and neither can you the basis of that decision and that is a matter between the department of finance and Ms Miller. We held an independent inquiry into the issues that were raised in relation to Mr Tudge.

I note my opponent did not hold any independent investigation in the very serious matters that have been raised recently. I focused on making sure we had one* and Mr Tudge was cleared on those matters. And so I look forward to him coming back when he believes he’s in a position to do so after standing aside, as I said, for health reasons and for family reasons and I respected that.

*It is worth noting that the inquiry Morrison ordered did not come until the last possible moment, and Miller did not participate after advice from her legal team, having looked at the terms of reference for the inquiry.


Alan Tudge still 'technically' a member of cabinet, says PM

After saying that Alan Tudge had stepped down from his front bench, then saying he was a still a member of his cabinet, Scott Morrison has a new clarification – Tudge is still “technically” a member of his cabinet.

It means that he still has his warrant as a minister from the governor general. And as a result, he’s formally still the education minister.

We have an acting minister for education in Stuart Robert.

We had an independent inquiry into the matters that I took very, very seriously.

I didn’t dismiss them. I didn’t say – no, we don’t need to look at that. We did [need to look at it] and we did. And there was nothing found in that inquiry to prevent him from continuing to serve as a minister.

Alan has taken his own decision for family and health reasons to stand aside. He’s not being paid as a minister and I look forward to him returning because what he’s been doing in education has been very important.


Morrison is asked about what residents in the area told Sarah Martin in her profile on Gilmore, about the prime minister taking a Hawaiian holiday during the bushfires.

Well, we’ve said many times, Jenny and I, when we took a week’s leave after what had been a very harrowing year, that you know, if we could change that decision, we would. That was two and a half years ago and ever since that time, as we returned, we’ve applied ourselves. I have applied myself every single day and we’ve seen that during the pandemic.


Scott Morrison just appeared on ABC breakfast TV, where he was asked about his relationship with the Liberal candidate for Gilmore, Andrew Constance.

Q: Andrew Constance said that you got the welcome that you deserved [in the region after the bushfires]. Emotions are still running deep in the bushfire-affected communities. Are you concerned about that being repeated today?


With Andrew Constance being part of my team and choosing to be part of that team, I think that that addresses it. Andrew and I spoke not long after the terrible experiences that particularly he and others and so many went through, and we worked the issue. We ensured that we addressed thing like small business payment and we got the money on the grouped and supported people in the areas that the federal government were responsible for. And I really thank Andrew for the way that we came together and really started to work together to address those issues. He’s a fine advocate for this part of Australia on the south coast of New South Wales.

He’s demonstrated that time again. And the fact that he wants to be part of my team and is running here as our Liberal candidate in Gilmore, I think that that addresses those issues fairly, squarely, that we’ve actually addressed the short comings that he was outlining at the time and we’ve gone forward with a strong plan to ensure that we’re providing that support. Not just in relation to the fires, but in relation to other natural disasters. And we’ve seen so many of those over the last three years.


Anne Ruston was asked about Alan Tudge, given Scott Morrison had previously said the former education minister was not seeking a return to the front bench, but on Sunday, Morrison said Tudge remained a member of his cabinet.

Josh Butler can take you through the ins and outs:

Anne Ruston was asked to explain what was going on (spoiler: she couldn’t).

Well, Mr Tudge stood aside when the work was being undertaken by Ms Thom. And my understanding is that he indicated to the prime minister that he remains to decide not not receiving any ministerial salary either.

Obviously post the election, should the Australian public agree and give us the honour of being returned, then that will be a matter for the prime minister.


Labor’s main press conference is set down for 9.30am.

It’s in the electorate of Bass.


Anne Ruston is the Liberal party’s official campaign spokesperson.

She is speaking to Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National and is asked about Labor’s attack ads against the prime minister – whether it is a problem.

Well, first of all, this election is not about the prime minister,” Ruston says (she was the social services minister, for those wondering).


Anthony Albanese has chosen the ABC breakfast TV route where he again mentions that Labor has only won government from opposition three times since the second world war (which is true, but I think the Coalition has only won four times from opposition since the second world war – it’s just that one of those times was Menzies 17-year run).

This is always going to be a tight contest. Labor has only won office three times since the second world war from opposition, and we face an uphill battle.

But I’m determined to give Australians a better future. We’ll be out there campaigning to strengthen Medicare, for more secure work, for making more things here.

For addressing cost of living pressure that is are out there, by having cheaper childcare, cheaper energy prices.

Question: “That said, though, do you concede that Labor really needs a primary vote with a 4 in front of it to get anywhere near majority Government?”


I believe that we can win a majority government, indeed. I’m the only candidate for prime minister who is trying to form government in their own right. We’ve seen the mess that is the modern Coalition with chaos within the National party, chaos within the Liberal party and chaos between the Liberals and the Nationals. That’s back action on issues like climate change. I’m presenting myself as someone asking for a majority Labor government to give Australia the government that it deserves to make sure that we can have a better future.


Scott Morrison has started the morning with a morning breakfast tv interview on the Nine network and an ABC radio interview – I will bring you some of that very soon (just need to transcribe a bit).


Anyone needing a refresher on where their electorate sits can find out all they need to know with our seat explorer:

Speaking of Gilmore, our chief political correspondent, Sarah Martin, spent some time in the electorate to get a feel for how locals felt about the election, given what they had been through in the 2019-20 bushfires:


Where are the leaders

The Liberal campaign has begun in Nowra in New South Wales, while Labor has headed straight to Tasmania.

That Scott Morrison’s first stop is the NSW south coast, in the seat of Gilmore (held by Labor’s Fiona Phillips who is being challenged by former NSW state minister Andrew Constance) says a lot in itself. Much of Gilmore is still recovering from the bushfires. Constance, who lives in the area, and for a short time was considered missing as he fought fires which threatened his and his neighbour’s homes was critical of the federal government response at the time, but has since made up with Morrison.

Phillips won the seat from the Liberals with a narrow margin of 2.6% – that came after the local Liberal branch, protesting the parachuting of Morrison’s captain’s pick, Warren Mundine, ran the candidate Mundine replaced as an independent, which split the conservative vote.

Labor thinks Phillips has done the work to hold on, but the Liberals think they can take the seat from Labor with such a strong, well known candidate.

Anthony Albanese is making a pitch for Bass, held by the Liberal’s Bridget Archer, who made a name for herself in the last parliamentary term by actually voting on conscience.


Good morning

Good morning and welcome to the first full day of official campaigning. Both major political parties have been campaigning for weeks, but it was only yesterday when the election was officially called, bringing an end to the 46th parliament. Can’t think there will be too many sorry to see it go.

So now the battle is on to see which major party will steer the 47th parliament – and whether they’ll need any help to do so.

It’s going to be a rough campaign. After a bruising three years, the Coalition isn’t feeling confident, while it’s a big ask for Labor to hold all seats plus win seven more to form government.

And obviously, while every state is important, a 5% swing to Labor in Queensland wouldn’t necessarily see any seats changing hands, just a margin correction after the last election.

Victoria is already a Labor stronghold with Chisholm considered the most likely gain, although Casey could be a surprise. At this point though, NSW is the state to watch with both the major parties preparing to sling it out over Australia’s most populous state and its 47 electorates.

Rest assured, the Guardian team will be with you every step of the way. Our editor, Lenore Taylor, has outlined our election approach here.

We won’t be on the buses, but we will still be everywhere, bringing you the coverage you need to help inform your vote. Of particular note is Paul Karp’s fact check series – Paul is meticulous when it comes to detail, and there’s no one better to help seperate the fact from the fiction.

Sarah Martin knows everyone there is to know – and has a brilliant knack for getting to the root of a story.

Daniel Hurst is one of the best on defence and foreign affairs – two of the biggest issues this campaign, given the state of the world, while Josh Butler has his eye on the minor parties and what that’s going to mean for votes, preferences and of course candidates. And we’ll all be watching the independents.

And of course you have Australia’s best political editor, Katharine Murphy, as she keeps a sharp eye over all of it. Mike Bowers will be out and about finding out tidbits as only he can while taking you to the campaign through his images. And the entire Guardian team will be bringing you their expertise as we make our way through the next six weeks.

It’s an absolute honour to be guiding you through the campaign on the daily blog. You’ll have me, Amy Remeikis, with you each morning and most of the day as we keep you updated on the leaders’ movements – plus everything else that happens on campaigns (and outside of them) which keeps things interesting.

It’s going to be a pretty messy one. Scott Morrison is fighting for his political life but he believes he can once again pull off a miracle. And he’s not the only one. But this isn’t 2019 and people know who he is now. Anthony Albanese has spent three years preparing for these six weeks, and much of it will be dedicated to reminding voters exactly how Morrison spent the last term of power.

And then there are the wildcards of Clive Palmer and his election spend, some fairly well known names hoping for senate ticket upsets and the myriad of independent campaigns looking to upset some inner-city safe Liberal seats and seize the balance of power.

There’s only one safe prediction – you’re going to need to stay hydrated.

So strap in as we make our way through the first full day of official campaigning. If you’re not already mainlining Caffeine, you’re not living.

Ready? Let’s get into it.


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