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The Guardian - AU

Australian election briefing: Morrison’s housing sales pitch knocked off course as Albanese dodges a digger — plus ‘polite incentives’

Labor leader Anthony Albanese at an early learning centre in Perth on Monday
The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, made a whistle-stop visit to an early learning centre in Perth on Monday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Scott Morrison’s sales pitch on the Coalition’s housing policy was thrown off course on Monday by a minister’s admission about its potential to cause a “bump” in house prices.

Anthony Albanese focused on health while trying to hold the line on “polite incentives” during press conferences. Here’s how the final Monday before the 21 May election unfolded.

Postcard from the Morrison campaign

By Paul Karp

Scott Morrison started Monday in Brisbane with a barrage of interviews selling the Coalition’s policy allowing first-homebuyers to access their superannuation.

On Nova radio in Perth, he faced a grilling about why he is so mean about Anthony Albanese’s gaffes and lack of action on climate change, but he got a friendlier run on Kyle and Jackie O.

In his first stop in the Labor-held Queensland marginal seat of Blair, Morrison surveyed plans for the Springfield Rise development with LNP candidate Sam Biggins.

Biggins suggested journalists would shortly meet some first-homebuyers, but they remained inside for the press conference, chatting only briefly to Morrison in front of the cameras.

That meant the press conference was short and sharp – and Morrison didn’t answer multiple questions about economic analysis and modelling about his policy’s impact on housing prices.

The second stop in Blair was a cafe in Ipswich, where Morrison announced $1m for the Riley valley football club to help build a club house, and $2.5m for a business case for the Ipswich central second river crossing.

Blair is held by Labor on just 1.2%, and is in play but a tough ask for the Coalition given the high-water mark at the last election. At the top of Labor’s target list in Queensland are Brisbane and Ryan, two inner-city seats where Morrison is out of favour, and Longman. One suspects the Blair stop is as much about staying out of areas where the PM’s presence is a vote loser as it is about generating images from a shiny new housing estate.

Morrison then made a flying visit to Cairns to support the Liberal member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch. Because the Association of Independent Retirees division meets in the Cairns District Darts Association hall, Morrison perhaps thinking it was a sporting club, asking a pair of retirees if they were members of the club and “how’s their aim”.

Postcard from the Albanese campaign

By Josh Butler

Anthony Albanese started the day in Perth, for a two-day swing through the west where he hopes to win up to three seats – Swan and Pearce are at the top of the list, but with an eye on Hasluck too. After a short Triple M radio interview chock-full of sports metaphors, he headed to the Bentley hospital to join the Western Australia premier, Mark McGowan, to announce a $150m joint investment with the WA government for a surgery facility upgrade. It’s in the electorate of Swan.

WA’s “state daddy” turned heads when he arrived: one woman in the hospital car park exclaimed, “oh my god it’s Mark McGowan” to her daughter as they walked past. Albanese didn’t quite have the same instant recognition in Perth: one young woman asked, “who are you?” as the federal Labor leader got out of his car.

Albanese’s recently adopted press conference rule of ignoring questions from the louder journalists is starting to annoy reporters on the bus. He joked it was a “politeness incentive”. It’s working for him, taking some of the heat out of press conferences which recently have been combative. We should note Scott Morrison hasn’t instituted such a rule.

After meeting a nurse and a patient outside the hospital for a quick chat, Albanese then rushed off to an early learning centre in Hasluck. In the whistle-stop visit, barely lasting 15 minutes, the Labor leader helped one infant with a colour and shape matching game, dodged sand chucked by an over-enthusiastic digger in the sandpit, and threw a ball back and forth.

Despite receiving joking pleas for Albanese to run along a balance beam or dig a hole himself, his advisers – mindful to the obvious political metaphor opportunities in the media pack – declined.

Then it was off to a prepoll centre in Pearce, to rev up Labor volunteers handing out how to vote cards.

Liberal senator Ben Small and Labor’s Sue Lines flew the flags for their respective parties, with the ALP candidate for Pearce, Tracey Roberts, on hand to meet voters she hopes to represent after Saturday. At the prepoll booth between a smoke shop and a deli in an outdoor bank of shops, Albanese made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it visit to meet with volunteers.

Large billboard trucks circled the area – some blaring anti-Liberal slogans, others for Clive Palmer’s UAP, while the Labor leader got snapped with an LED “it won’t be easy under Albanese” banner in the background. Shaking hands and patting the obligatory dog, he said hello and then goodbye, disappearing around the corner as quickly as he came.

Today’s big stories

Property prices: The Coalition’s twin-pronged housing policy is likely to push up property prices to the benefit of existing homeowners, with only modest effects on increasing supply, market analysts say.

The superannuation minister, Jane Hume, told ABC Radio National there would probably be “a bump in house prices” in the short term, as “a lot of people bring forward their decision to buy a house”. Here’s an explainer about the policy details.

Aukus snub: Anthony Albanese has accused the government of “playing politics” with national security after revelations it kept Labor in the dark about the Aukus agreement despite Washington’s desire for bipartisan support.

The Nine newspapers reported at the weekend that Labor was only briefed about the Aukus security partnership the day before it was made public last September, despite the US making clear in negotiations that it wanted enduring bipartisan backing for the deal given it would be a decades-long endeavour.

Scott Morrison defended the Coalition’s handling of negotiations, saying he wasn’t going to risk sharing the details with Labor until the deal was finalised. He noted that ultimately the agreement had secured bipartisan support.

Balance-of-power wishlist: The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, will release a $173bn balance-of-power wishlist at the party’s campaign launch in Brisbane on Monday night, outlining seven key concessions it wants from Labor in the event of a minority government.

Quote of the day

I agree with our policy.

– The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, makes a startling admission when asked about an analyst’s comments on housing policies.

By the numbers: 5

Sleeps to go until election day.

How social media saw it

The big picture

When you’re racing around the country, the campaign can be a bit of a blur.

Prime minister Scott Morrison tries to find a path to victory at the Springfield Rise Display Village in the seat of Blair
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, tries to find a path to victory at the Springfield Rise Display Village in the seat of Blair. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

Watch: Negotiating with Morrison

Members of the existing crossbench were asked during a National Press Club debate today whether they would work with a future Morrison-led minority government.

Listen: Full Story’s campaign catchup

Guardian Australia’s chief political correspondent, Sarah Martin, joins Jane Lee to discuss how the Coalition is trying to sway undecided voters in the final week of the election.