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The Guardian - AU

PM says Opposition leader’s criticism ‘the comments of an armchair critic’ – as it happened

Prime minister Scott Morrison
Prime minister Scott Morrison in Cairns on day 36 of the 2022 federal election campaign. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

What we learned today, Monday 16 May

Much of today’s focus was on the fallout from the Coalition’s housing policy announcement. The future makeup and role of the crossbench was also a theme. Here are today’s headlines:

It’s going to be a big week. And a bigger weekend. Amy Remeikis will be back in the morning to guide you through the next stage. Deep breaths. It’s going to be fine. See you tomorrow!


Morrison is refusing to speculate on the election’s aftermath – whether he’ll remain as Liberal leader if he loses, or how he might negotiate with a crossbench.

He says:

The scenario that my team is working for, is not to have a weakened parliament. To not to have a government that has to negotiate for its existence every day. If I had to do that, Leigh, over the last three years, Australia would not be in a stronger position than we are today. We would be in a weaker position. People would be worse off. I want to avoid that.

Asked who he would blame if he did lose, he says:

I would always accept the result of an election because I trust my fellow Australians.

He squeezes in one more (truncated) stump speech, and it’s over.


Sales asks why the teal independents have such appeal. Morrison hints that maybe those blue ribbon seats are rich enough that they don’t have to worry about cost-of-living issues:

Many of these places, I suppose, are less vulnerable to the impacts of the economy.


Now we’re on the “red line” that Morrison declared when it came to the security deal between Solomon Islands and China.

Sales pushes him on what it means, he doesn’t answer. He says it’s not true the government was “blindsided” by the pact.

We’ll work constructively with our partners to make sure it [building a naval base] won’t occur. I’m not going to speculate on those actions. Governments and countries have to be very clear about what we understand to be acceptable and unacceptable circumstances both in the regional security interests and the national security interest.


Morrison says the floods were a “massive crisis” and it took time to deploy defence personnel. The Coalition gave $2.9bn for the bushfire victims. And he says:

We had challenges in the early phases of the vaccine rollout. What happens when you have challenges and set in a pandemic? You don’t get everything right. When it’s not going to plan, you change the plan, you get on top of it. General Frewen was appointed. The vaccine program was turned around ... we ended up having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. My point is, it’s easy to make criticisms in the middle of a pandemic after the event.


Sales: Aren’t the examples Labor leader Anthony Albanese gives – that you reacted “too little, too late” on the bushfires, vaccines, the floods – “indisputable”?

Morrison says:

They’re the comments of an armchair critic.


Sales: To get to net zero, do we need to shut coal-fired power stations by 2030?

Morrison: “No.”

Carbon capture and storage and other technologies will do the job, he says.

Time for another factcheck:


Sales: If you don’t support a pay rise in line with inflation, isn’t that supporting an effective pay cut?

Morrison says:

I support the Fair Work Commission making decisions on wages, taking into account all the factors that impact on people’s cost of living and whether they’ll be better off. I support wage increases.

Now he’s off into more general cost-of-living pressures, and comparisons with other developed nations. At which point I’ll recommend Paul Karp’s factcheck:


Sales asks about the 1.3m jobs the Coalition has promised, and says employers say there are plenty of jobs, but not enough workers. Morrison says yes, that’s the biggest challenge facing the economy. (So there are not enough workers to fill existing jobs, but the Coalition will create more jobs, so where will the workers come from?)

“The economy will be bigger,” Morrison says:

That means the economy will be bigger because we’re investing in the skills of Australians. The jobs we’re creating are skilled jobs.


The debt “saved the country”, Morrison says. “[It] saved lives. Saving the country, I thought, was worth the investment,” he says.

Sales moves on to the Coalition’s housing policy, and Morrison says that superannuation minister, Jane Hume’s comments that it would push up housing prices was wrong because the government will also increase supply.

What Jane was referring to was in isolation, when you take all of our housing policies together, in particular the downsizing policy. The downsizing policy actually gets more housing stock into the market.

Sales lists all the Liberal people who’ve criticised the idea of raiding super for house deposits in the past, and asks why this was the Coalition’s “break glass” policy.

Morrison says they were talking about different policies. He says:

Because the policy we put forward here is not that people take money out of their superannuation and never put it back. This policy actually invests it back into your superannuation so it doesn’t impact on your long-term retirement savings.

And Jenny gets her first mention, with a well-worn line about a home being your biggest asset.


Sales: In nine years, you’ve racked up a trillion dollars in debt. What do you have to show for that?

Morrison says Snowy Hydro, Sydney Airport, inland rail ... and so on. He says (talking over Sales repeatedly):

But are you suggesting we should have been cutting hospitals and schools and things like that to get there?

(No one was.) Morrison continues:

We said we wouldn’t do that. We said we would balance the budget by growing the economy. Now I was treasurer for three of those years and we went into the pandemic, we balanced the budget, that meant we could respond with jobkeeper, the tax incentives, the Covid supplements, all of these things and record spending on health to get Australia through. That’s a lot to show for it. We’ve a country today that is strong.



What would you have done differently for example when it came to the way your government used community sports grants as a slush fund to channel money to marginal seats?

Morrison says he completely rejects that, and Sales rightly points out that it was the audit office that found that was the place. He says he doesn’t “buy into this narrative”:

Elected leaders, ministers, ultimately make decisions. We’re the ones accountable to the public. Not public servants. Not Sport Australia.


Sales: How did you conclude people didn’t like you, the bulldozer?


I’m just being honest, Leigh. I can be. And during the last two or three years, but frankly, at other times in the various jobs I’ve had, that’s been very necessary.

You have to move quickly, decisively, and you’re not always right, he says. Wow, he is churning through his talking points.


Scott Morrison is being interviewed on ABC 7.30

Morrison is in Cairns. The first question from Sales is about how he campaigns, considering his personal drag on the Coalition’s vote. He says:

Because we’ve got the economic plan, Leigh, that I know can take Australia into the future and seize the opportunities there. I know that’s the case. I know our economic plan is working because Australians are working.

He’s speaking very quickly.


They’re calling it “The Final Pitch”. ABC’s Leigh Sales will interview the prime minister, Scott Morrison, on 7.30 – up shortly.

Meanwhile, please have some pity for whoever forgot to change out the placement copy here:


Australia’s relationship with the Pacific is going swimmingly, as Daniel Hurst reports:

From Sarah Martin’s piece below:

The party’s seven key demands are no new coal and gas; dental and mental health into Medicare; building 1m affordable homes and better renters’ rights; free childcare; wiping student debt; lifting income support; and progress on all elements of the Uluru statement from the heart.

“We are fighting, we are growing, and we will win,” Bandt says, concluding his campaign launch speech.

“Coal and gas workers are not the enemy. We are all in this together,” Bandt says, after referring to a Greens plan to help those workers transition into green jobs.

The election will be close, he says, so people’s votes are “more powerful than ever”:

We are on the verge of a minority government – if not in the House of Representatives, then in the Senate. And the Greens are on track to be the most powerful third party in the next parliament.


Mandy Nolan will be the first person in the House of Representatives who is “intentionally funny”, Bandt says of the Richmond candidate.

It’s a competition between a “terrible government and a visionless opposition,” Bandt says (twice).

Meanwhile, in the YouTube chat, someone calling themselves Greta Thunberg has posted:


“We are about five days away from talking about former prime minister Scott Morrison,” the Greens leader, Adam Bandt, says. “We are on the march.”

Cue lots of whooping.


“We only need a 1.5% swing,” Allman-Payne says, to kick Hanson out and push the government to do better on climate and inequality.

“I don’t know about you, but it feels good out there,” she says.

Greens senator Larissa Waters has introduced Queensland senate candidate, Penny Allman-Payne. The Greens are hopeful of nabbing Pauline Hanson’s senate spot, although ABC election guru Antony Green points out it’s more complicated than that.

Allman-Payne is a teacher, and she’s talking about the mental health crisis in young people.

You’d be forgiven for missing it, but the Department of Defence appears to have undergone a minor rebrand during the election campaign.

Eagle-eyed observers have pointed out that in the department’s logo displayed on its website, underneath the coat of arms, its title has been shortened from “Department of Defence” to just “Defence”.

Internet archives show that as recently as Friday, the title of the department in its logo read “Department of Defence”.

The rebrand has also trickled through Defence’s social media channels.

On Twitter, the department’s account name has been changed from “Department of Defence” and @DeptDefence to “Defence Australia” and @DefenceAust.

It’s unclear if this is a government-wide rebrand. Other departments, such as the Department of Health, don’t appear to have new logos.

Guardian Australia has contacted the Department of Defence/Defence Australia for more information.


The Greens’ official campaign launch is tonight. Leader Adam Bandt is in Brisbane for it – and Sarah Martin has the details on their $173bn balance-of-power wishlist:

The daily election briefing is in, with postcards from the campaign trails. Daniel Hurst, Paul Karp and Josh Butler have all of today’s big moments and stories:

Anthony Albanese finished up his public schedule just after 12pm today in Perth, after a few whistlestop visits to a hospital, childcare centre and a pre-poll booth.

But he recorded an interview with Triple J’s Hack program, which just played out.

Taking aim at the Coalition’s super-for-housing plan, the Labor leader claimed the Coalition was “out of touch with how much superannuation young people have”.

Scott Morrison’s policy lets people take out up to 40% of their super balance to fund a house purchase, but with many people aged in their 20s and 30s likely to have relatively low balances, critics say the plan won’t help much.

Right before Albanese, Coalition superannuation minister Jane Hume was on, defending that facet of the policy by saying the plan wasn’t only for young people - and explaining that hundreds of people in their 50s and 60s had tapped into other Coalition first homebuyer schemes.

This morning, Hume admitted there may be a short-term rise in house prices on the back of the policy. On Hack, Hume said this “wouldn’t be a long term proposition”. She added that the Coalition had “done modelling that says there’s no long-term effect” and that the policy “wouldn’t make a significant difference” to prices in the property market.

We’ve asked Coalition HQ to supply us with this modelling.

Back on Albanese’s interview, he was asked whether he’d give a DJ set on Triple J if he won the election. Albanese has performed in the past as “DJ Albo” at Labor events and even on ABC’s Rage program.

He replied he was “more than happy” to fill an entire Hack edition with his own selection of tunes. “That’s the deal, give me half an hour,” he laughed.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese campaigns in Perth today.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese campaigns in Perth today. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images


After those comments from Hume, here’s the video of the prime minister Scott Morrison being asked whether his policy will push up house prices:


Q: How will you rebuild trust with young Australians?

Albanese says a Labor government would directly engage with young people and have a youth minister. And Labor is “being more ambitious” than the Coalition on climate change.

Final question: Will you commit to a DJ set on the Hack program on Triple J?

“I’ll do an entire Hack edition,” he says.


Anthony Albanese is on now, and says it’s a “mountain” for Labor to climb to win on Saturday. He points out that the polls predicting a Labor win in 2019 “were wrong”.

Scott Morrison isn’t satisfied saying he wants to cut real wages including for those on minimum wage, he now wants to cut people’s super,” Albanese says:

This government’s out of touch with how much superannuation young people have in their accounts.

Labor based its policy on a similar one operating in WA, he says. “It’s worked very effectively.”


The superannuation minister, Jane Hume, is on Triple J, talking about – you guessed it – housing.

(The youth station promises an imminent appearance from the Labor leader, Anthony Albanese.)

Hume says there may be a “temporary bump” in house prices as young people line up to buy. She said as much earlier today, but other Liberals have come out to say there won’t be.

“We’ve done modelling that suggests there is no long-term effect on this,” she says.

Q: Won’t it be handier for people with more super, not for younger Australians?

Hume says there are no caps on income, no caps on the property price (which kind of makes the point that it’s not specifically for younger people).

“We think this policy will reduce (the amount of time it takes to save a deposit) by three years,” she says.

Liberal senator Jane Hume says the Coalition’s super scheme for first home buyers could result in a ‘temporary bump’ in house prices.
Liberal senator Jane Hume says the Coalition’s super scheme for first home buyers could result in a ‘temporary bump’ in house prices. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


Turns out you can have housing policies that don’t put “upwards pressure” on prices. Greg Jericho names five:

While the attention has been on Australia’s housing market and what campaign promises might do for prices (the more “effective”, the bigger the demand boost), China has been sending out fresh warning signs.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and the dynamo for most of the world’s growth for the past couple of decades. A whole bunch of April stats show China’s zero Covid policy is becoming a big drag on growth.

Retail sales in April were 11.1% lower than a year ago, and industrial output was off 3%, reversing a 5% expansion in March, Westpac said:

Concerns over China’s economy are playing a role in the fall in the prices of base metals that Australia exports. Iron ore prices are also trending lower, slipping under US$130 a tonne for the first time since January.

The Australia dollar has dutifully slumped towards two-year lows of about 68 US cents.

That said, the signs probably aren’t all bad, including the fact that China’s energy mix shifted a bit last month, with a drop-off in coal use while renewables jumped.

Fewer emissions from the world’s biggest polluter are to be welcomed.

And China’s car industry (not much bigger in units than the US) is also shifting gears ... or rather charging faster into electric vehicles, which don’t have gears at all.

A Chinese car industry advisor told me years ago that his advice to local automakers was that they should be prepared to phase out internal combustion-engined cars by 2025. That’s probably a bit ambitious given we’re at 2022 but the direction of travel is clearly going one way.


Kenny is now suggesting former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has to be expelled from the party over his support for teal independents. He needs to think about his membership, Ruston says, then segues into a spiel about the independents in a time of global insecurity.

“They want to destabilise,” she says.

Liberal senator Anne Ruston is on Sky News. She says the Coalition has a “really comprehensive suite of measures” to get young people into housing.

Host Chris Kenny asks her if it will push up house prices. She says their policies deal with the supply side as well, and points to the policy to give people incentives to downsize from the family home.

“We would hope to see a number of properties come on to the market,” she says.


Fair Work Commission decision on domestic violence leave 'a historic win': ACTU

Australian workers should be able to access 10 days of paid domestic violence leave, according to an in principle decision from the Fair Work Commission.

Monday afternoon’s decision from the full bench of the commission covers the roughly one in four Australian workers covered by modern award provisions.

According to the commission’s provisional view, the 10 days of family and domestic violence (FDV) leave would accrue progressively, but would be subject to a cap whereby the total entitlement does not exceed 10 days at any given time.

The commissioners found: “10 days paid FDV leave is an emerging industrial standard in bargaining and over-award arrangements. We find that such an entitlement, where provided, provides significant assistance to those experiencing FDV in that it helps individuals to maintain their economic security, to access relevant services and to safely exit to a life free from violence”.

We also find that the introduction of paid FDV leave is likely to be of some, albeit difficult to quantify, benefit to employers through reducing absenteeism and lost productivity caused by FDV.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions, which filed the claim for the 10 days of FDV leave, welcomed the decision, and called on the Morrison government to extend the leave to everyone covered by the National Employment Standards (NES) – which is about 11 million workers. The Labor party has already committed to this.

ACTU president, Michele O’Neill, called Monday’s decision “a historic win and a generational achievement for millions of women”.

Already this year 18 women have been killed by their current or previous partner. Access to paid family and domestic violence leave saves lives. No worker should ever have to choose between their income and their safety.

The difference between this entitlement being in the award system and the NES cannot be overstated. Failing to include it in the NES would deny access to millions of working people.


There have been 7,807 Covid deaths recorded in Australia since the start of the pandemic:


Scott Morrison has wrapped up his flying visit to Cairns.

Because the Association of Independent Retirees division meets in the Cairns District Darts Association hall, Morrison initially appeared to think he was visiting a sporting club, asking a pair of retirees if they were members of the club and “how’s their aim”.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch set him straight that he was meeting the retirees who he called the “circle of wisdom” who “helped create what we have here in beautiful Cairns”.

Entsch also said it was good Morrison brought his wife, Jenny, along, telling her that she looks “way better than your husband”. Jenny has been a fixture in this last week – at the Hindu Council on Saturday, the launch on Sunday and all his events today.

Morrison addressed the group by talking about a number of changes to help retirees including extending the commonwealth seniors health card to 50,000 more people, freezing deeming rates and ensuring they don’t limit eligibility for the pension, and extending relief on minimum draw-down rates from super.

Morrison boosted Entsch, saying he has a “long list” of things to do for Cairns and “his job is not done yet”.

It will be up to voters on Saturday to decide if Entsch will join the retirees and find more time for darts.


Is the Coalition’s housing policy super? Sarah Martin and Jane Lee discuss the announcement dominating the debate (for now):

On Morrison saying he’s been a bulldozer and will change, Pyne says people like it when leaders admit they could do better:

I think he’s admitting that he hasn’t always got it right. I think Australians like that.


Controversial Victorian Liberal MP Bernie Finn will face a move to expel him from the parliamentary party, forcing him to sit on the crossbench ahead of the state election in November.

Finn came under fire this month after he said he was “praying” for abortion to be banned in Australia. Last week he resigned as the opposition’s whip in the state’s upper house last week days after posting the comments on social media.

Guardian Australia understands the motion to expel him from the parliamentary Liberal party has the support of senior MPs and is expected to pass.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy said it was “imperative” that Liberal MPs were “solely focused on recovering and rebuilding Victoria”. He said:

A continued lack of discipline and repeated actions detrimental to the party’s ability to stand up for the interests of Victorians has left no other option but to consider Mr Finn’s eligibility to represent the Liberal party.


And former minister Christopher Pyne himself is up now. He says the policy is “clever” (he was very disparaging of the idea of using super savings for housing in 2017).

But he says people are conflating two Coalition policies – the super part, and the part that helps older people downsize. One “cancels out the other”, he says.


ABC host Greg Jennett suggests to Bragg that their policy will only be helpful for higher income earners or older people who have more in their super accounts. Bragg says their policy is a “reasonable starting point” and that the deposit needed in Sydney will be different to that needed in Tasmania.

Burns says the policy is a “brainfart” from Scott Morrison:

It’s not the Labor party who have opposed this policy. It’s been Peter Dutton, Malcolm Turnbull, Sussan Ley, a whole cavalry of Liberal party members who think it’s an absurd idea. Christopher Pyne rubbished it in the past as well. The Liberal party knows it’s a bad idea.


Liberal senator Andrew Bragg is next in line on the ABC. He’s a longterm supporter of letting people use their super to buy a home:

I’ve been an advocate for using super for housing and many models that have been bandied around and there are many ways you can deploy super to ensure people can get access to a first home. This is one good model.

He’s pretty critical of the superannuation industry.

Labor’s Josh Burns says it will “run a bulldozer through people’s retirement savings:

If this was a good idea, Scott Morrison would have done it in the first decade he had in office. But he didn’t. He’s doing it in the last week of an election campaign.

He says Labor’s policy is different because they’re planning to build thousands of homes for social housing, for women fleeing domestic violence, and it’s aimed at low and middle income earners.


If the Liberal party moved to the centre, Ryan says, she’d vote for it:

If it represented my values in the way I wished it to, in ways that it did when I was a child.


Ryan says she thinks it’s just “kids being kids” when it comes to corflutes being defaced – not her people, or Frydenberg’s people. She also says it’s an “error” for Frydenberg to say she’s Labor-aligned and therefore a “fake independent”:

I have never been to the meeting of a political party. I joined the Labor party for a very brief period, for three years, never went to a meeting. I think the people of Kooyong don’t care about that stuff and the fact Mr Frydenberg has been banging on and on and on and calling me a fake independent, people aren’t interested in that. They’d like us to talk about the issues.


Independent candidate for Kooyong, Monique Ryan, says Frydenberg sits in the centre-right of the partyroom (so she’s not knocking out a moderate MP if she wins):

I don’t agree he’s a moderate. He may try to make himself out to be so, but this is someone who didn’t cross the floor on marriage equality. He has never crossed the floor in his 12 years in parliament. This is [someone] who has voted in favour of keeping people in offshore detention and most recently voted in favour of the religious discrimination act.

Those are not actions of a moderate and they’re not actions that the people of Kooyong would like our member to be taken on our behalf.


Asked if the Coalition housing policy will push up house prices, Frydenberg says the impact would be “minor”:

It’s a $10tn housing market and there’s about a hundred thousand first home buyers coming into the market each year. If all them of access $50,000 through their super, that would equate to less than 1% of the housing stock if they were to buy a median home for a first home buyer.

This is the point. You’ve got to keep it in perspective. If you own your own home you’re much more likely to be secure in retirement. It’s an important asset. It’s often the number one asset that people own.


Frydenberg denies that the prime minister, Scott Morrison, is unpopular in Kooyong, but says it’s his name on the ballot. Kelly asks him why, then, do his signs say “Save Josh”. Frydenberg says:

Actually, the slogan is keep a strong economy, keep Josh, keep funding schools, keep Josh, keep a strong healthcare system, keep Josh.

The Liberal party logo is on my signs, it’s on my how to vote card and I’m the Liberal party candidate in Kooyong and I’m very proud of it.

Now he’s accusing the teal independents (such as his challenger, Monique Ryan) of being a front for the Labor party (she’s not, as she explains here).


Treasurer Josh Frydenberg spoke to Kelly in Kooyong earlier. He says it’s been a “close battle” in the seat “for a few years”.

“I don’t think there’s anything called a safe seat anymore,” he says, adding that the demographics in the seat have changed:

I think Kooyong has changed a bit. I don’t think the Liberal party has changed. The values that drive members of the Liberal party and the same values that the Liberal party was initially founded on, belief in free enterprise, the power of the individual, the quality of opportunity. Obviously the quality of outcomes.


Kelly asks Wong about reports that the US wanted to brief Labor on the Aukus deal, but that the prime minister, Scott Morrison, didn’t. Wong says:

Do you think it’s a non-issue that an Australian prime minister ignores the request of the US administration, our principal ally, ignores a request to brief the opposition and bring the opposition into the tent? Really? Only because he thought there was political advantage in doing so. I think it’s unprecedented.

She’s incredulous when Kelly asks her if someone from Labor leaked the Aukus story once they were briefed:

Absolutely not ... I can tell you what – I got texts on the plane on the way home. From journalists that absolutely are not journalists I would be engaging with. Certainly on national security. No, we respect, we respect, the confidentiality of the briefings we get and I have held this portfolio for many years. We respect the confidentiality of briefings we get.


Wong says young people won’t have enough super to use for a deposit and women statistically have less, too. She says Labor’s policies are not the same:

It’s a very different set of policies because we have a range of policies including policies which are about increasing supply of housing and bringing new housing on to the market.

Kelly says young people are saying to her that they can’t see the difference between the two major parties’ policies. She asks:

Have you prioritised winning the election over housing affordability?

Wong says no, and adds that she has fought hard for a climate policy that is different to the Coalition’s.


Penny Wong says PM wants you to 'gamble your superannuation'

Labor senator Penny Wong is talking to ABC host Fran Kelly. Unsurprisingly she’s picked up on Liberal MP Jane Hume’s concession the Coalition housing policy will push up prices. She says:

[Morrison] is a bloke who has presided over a crisis in housing affordability over the last nine years. Now he wants you to all to believe six days out from an election he’s suddenly discovered housing affordability and discovered the way through. He knows it’s not true. He wants you to gamble your superannuation, gamble the superannuation system on this policy, which will push housing prices up. So it will make homes which are already less affordable now even less affordable.


Scott Morrison is on a flying stop off in Cairns this afternoon, at a picfac with the Association of Independent Retirees, which meets in the Cairns district darts association hall. Cairns is in the marginal seat of Leichhardt.

The prime minister and MP Warren Entsch are announcing an investment of $99.3m to boost training and education opportunities in rural regions.

This commitment will increase by 80 the number of medical commonwealth supported places (CSPs) available at rural campuses.

James Cook University Cairns will be a priority institution for these CSPs due to its “highly successful end to end training pipeline model” which offers students a full six-year university course in medical science. It will be guaranteed 20 additional places at a cost of $25m.


Some more from Peter Hannam on the Coalition’s housing policy and the “reckless inflation” it could cause:

The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, has popped into a prepoll centre in Western Australia’s marginal seat of Pearce, to rev up Labor volunteers handing out how-to-vote cards.

It wasn’t an easy gig for the political advancers who go ahead and scope out the location to avoid awkward encounters – a number of large billboard trucks circled the area, and the Labor leader was snapped with an LED “it won’t be easy under Albanese” banner in the background saying he’d voted for the Gillard government’s “mining tax”.

Other trucks blared anti-Liberal slogans, including one screaming “ScoMo backed Clive”. Clive Palmer’s UAP had its own large “FREEDOM” trucks.

At the prepoll booth, between a smoke shop and a deli in an outdoor row of shops, one woman yelled “end the mandates … get the workers back to work” at Albanese as she walked past him.

“He’s looking fit,” another woman said another woman.

Shaking hands and patting the obligatory dog, he said hello and then goodbye, disappearing around the corner as quickly as he came.

Earlier on his visit to a hospital with the WA premier, Mark McGowan, it was a similar mixed reaction. A woman in the hospital carpark exclaimed “oh my god it’s Mark McGowan” to her daughter as they walked past the gathered journalists, while at Albanese’s arrival, one young woman asked “who are you?” upon noticing the scrum of cameras as the Labor leader got out of his car.

Albanese has retired from public appearances for the day, just after 12pm Perth time. He’s set to appear on Triple J’s Hack program this evening, then attend the West Australian newspaper’s leaders breakfast event tomorrow morning.


I posted Cait Kelly’s guide to phone voting earlier – I should have waited! Here is her updated, expanded, improved, even more excellent guide to phone voting and much more:

A lot of chatter today about the Coalition’s new housing policy. As independent economist Saul Eslake says, too often government policies stoke house prices and Scott Morrison’s proposals are the latest to be added to the bonfire.

RateCity’s senior researcher, Sally Tindall, pointed out that home prices are actually turning lower as interest rates rise. She said the RBA’s Philip Lowe has estimated property prices will drop 15% if the cash rate rises to 2%.

In other words, perhaps the best way for housing to become more affordable, is to let the market ease off.

For its part, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is also taking a dim view on the new policy. ACOSS chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, says adding demand will only boost prices, as various economists have said.

Goldie is also critical of the other prong of the policy, encouraging those over 55 to be able to tip as much as $600,000 into their super accounts (and enjoy the concessional tax benefits) if they downsize. That’s a policy those over 65 can already access. Goldie says:

This policy adds to a succession of recent policy announcements that make it easier for wealthy older people to transfer their savings into superannuation to take advantage of generous tax concessions, including removal of the work test for people aged 65 to 74 years so they can keep making contributions to superannuation.

At a time when younger generations are struggling to break into the housing market, it is unfair and unacceptable for wealthy older people, who were fortunate enough to buy when prices were much lower, to be handed yet another opportunity to avoid tax by shifting more of their savings into super.


The prime minister, Scott Morrison, is looking to support sitting member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, who’s battling to keep his seat:


Josh Butler has the low-down on the micro and minor parties, and what they actually stand for:

People isolating because of Covid will be able to vote by phone – but the Australian Electoral Commission says that’s a last resort.

AAP reports that from 6pm on Wednesday people will be able to cast their vote by telephone. The commission said:

Telephone voting should only be a last resort. Prior to this date, voters who are isolating due to coronavirus can apply for a postal ballot.

Cait Kelly did an excellent explainer on the process:


The four children of Christos, a 70-year-old man missing in Victoria’s high country, have issued this statement via Victoria police:

We are devastated knowing that our dad Christos is still missing in Mount Hotham’s high country.

Our dad is a kind and loving person, a lover of nature, with an adventurous spirit. He is a grandfather to four beautiful granddaughters and we know he would love to see them again.

He is adored by his children, wife, family and friends and everyone else who knows him. We are all praying that his strong and resilient nature will find his way back to us.

We would like to thank the local community, Victoria police and everyone else involved for their ongoing pursuits to help find Christos.


Speaking of that crossbench ... Matilda Boseley’s latest Voting 101 is in. What is a hung parliament? Here is Boseley doing what she does best – squishing a lot of information into a tasty snack-sized video:


I’m still recovering from watching the crossbench debate at the National Press Club. I’d better get it together, though – the Greens have their campaign launch tonight, and later the prime minister, Scott Morrison, will be on ABC’s 7.30:


Environmental activists busted:

Thanks, Amy Remeikis – and good afternoon to whoever is with me for this Monday afternoon!


I will hand you over to the wonderful Tory Shepherd to take you through the rest of the afternoon.

I’ll be back early tomorrow – take care of you. Ax

What happens when you open the door to people tapping their retirement program to buy property?

New Zealand’s quaintly named KiwiSaver program suggests withdrawals keep increasing – presumably chasing higher property prices as you go.

Interesting that the “hardship” reason for withdrawing money is a much smaller fraction of total withdrawals. (Hat tip to RateCity for pointing it out.)


National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 13 deaths from Covid-19:


  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 887
  • In hospital: 75 (with 5 people in ICU)


  • Deaths: 4
  • Cases: 8,286
  • In hospital: 1,437 (with 65 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 251
  • In hospital: 22 (with 1 person in ICU)


  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 4,686
  • In hospital: 435 (with 17 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 2
  • Cases: 3,392
  • In hospital: 248 (with 7 people in ICU)


  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 854
  • In hospital: 44 (with 1 person in ICU)


  • Deaths: 5
  • Cases: 11,464
  • In hospital: 526 (with 31 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases: 12,266
  • In hospital: 314 (with 11 people in ICU)

The Australia Institute has taken a look at the number of political appointments to the AAT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal) and well, its summary explains it:

In the study, political appointments were defined as the appointment of people who, prior to appointment, had worked for a political party with representation at the federal level in either a paid or voluntary capacity. This included those who had worked as elected representatives, advisers or other staffers, party officials, candidates, pre-selection candidates or for party-affiliated organisations.

In the Howard and Rudd/Gillard/Rudd administrations, political appointees accounted for 6% and 5% of all appointees respectively. By contrast, during the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison administration, political appointees accounted for 32% of all new appointments.

Within the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison administration, political appointments were highest during the second Morrison ministry.

They climbed from 23% of all appointments during the 2013–2016 Abbott/Turnbull Government to 35% during the 2016–2019 Turnbull/Morrison government to 40% during the 2019–2022 Morrison government.

In the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison era, a total of 236 appointments were made.

The full report was published by the Australia Institute on Monday.


And that is it for the latest debate.

Anthony Albanese will be addressing the press club on Wednesday.


Rex Patrick:

So many areas, but let’s just look at a few - a few of them. Openness and transparency of government - everything the government does they do so on your coin.

There’s been too much secrecy that’s gone on for too long and that’s because we don’t have a properly funded auditor general, because the houses of parliament aren’t working, because our FOI laws are not being adhered to, because we don’t have a federal Icac that keeps an eye out for corruption and and malfeasance.

Secondly, we need to grow our economic pie, we need to do more manufacturing and value-add in Australia for wealth and for resilience. We need to make sure that corporations, and particularly multinationals, are paying their fair share of tax. We need to make sure that we are getting a proper return on the energy resources that we’re exporting. We need to make sure we’re not wasting money.

Defence projects, I’m a big believer in defence and deterrence but we waste a lot of money there. And stop wasting money on pork-barrelling.

That’s a form of corruption that has to stop. We also need to tackle climate change and the environment and now one of my focuses is on the Murray-Darling. We’re simply not meeting the plan and in some cases there are no consequences for not meeting the plan and that has to be addressed.

That is - it is our food bowl. We need to make sure we look after that properly. We need to understand that we don’t own Australia. Australia is not ours, it belongs to our children and our grandchildren and we must always think about that when we think about policies.


Adam Bandt:

Droughts, fires, floods – the climate crisis is here and it’s getting worse. Coal and gas are the major causes of the climate crisis, but Liberal and Labor want more.

Liberal and Labor are backing 114 new coal and gas projects around the country that will put your safety at risk.

And meanwhile, young people can’t afford to buy a house and even renting is out of reach for many of them.

We are at real risk of going down the road of becoming a US-style unequal society.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If just a few hundred people change their votes this election we can kick this terrible government out and put the Greens in balance of power.

And in the balance of power, we will push the next government to take real climate action by keeping coal and gas in the ground and stop opening up new projects. And we’ll push to tackle the cost of living crisis as well by getting dental and mental health into Medicare, building a million affordable homes and making childcare free.

The Greens will fight for First Nations justice with progress on truth and treaty as well as voice in the next parliament. And we’ll push to wipe student debt and also look after those who are doing it tough by lifting income support above the poverty line. Now, with one-in-three big corporations in this country paying absolutely no tax at all, the Greens will fund our plans by making the big corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of tax – not by asking everyday people to pay more.

So this election vote Greens to turf out this terrible government but [also] to push the next government to do better. Vote climate, vote one Greens.


Zali Steggall:

This election Australians have a very clear choice and let’s get real. The two party system is broken.

Australians do not feel represented, the trust in government is falling with every year that goes past, a federal anti-corruption commission is absolutely essential for Australians to know their taxpayer dollar is going where it should, bang for buck.

We need to ensure we have processes in place to ensure accountability of government. The culture of the government has to change. We need people in parliament that are going to look at things with merit, they’re going to look at - take evidence, expert evidence to ensure we actually put in place policies that are not just designed to ensure you get re-elected in three years’ time, but actually ensure that in 10 years’ time we are prosperous and safe nation.

That means you do have to tackle the big issues. We have to tackle climate change. We know we are on the forefront. We are heading for over 3 degrees of warming and the policies of the major parties do not keep us in accord with the Paris agreement.

Time and time again, research and polls say to us, it is the number one concern and yet at this election we haven’t heard boo from either party about it. We know we can act and these are challenges, but they are opportunities and when I look at our children, which is why I got into politics, it is to ensure a safer and healthier and better future for them. We can do politics differently.

Don’t let yourself believe the status quo and the media machine behind it that is hanging on to power for dear life, they do not want to see competition coming to it. Make this the Kodak moment of politics 2022, you can take back your vote. Make sure you as communities are represented. That’s what I stand for in Warringah and that is what so many independents stand for. Let’s be the change we want to see. We can do this better.


It is final statement time in this debate.

Craig Kelly goes first:

Firstly I need to rebut some of the things that Adam and Zali said. This idea there’s all these subsidies for our fossil fuel industries is nonsense. This is the fuel excise, fuel road users excise that is not paid by farmers, miners and those that use fuel off the major roads, that’s a nonsense.

If Zali is right about these free markets and subsidies, let’s get rid of all the subsidies for Chinese solar panels and for wind turbines.

We cannot trash the industries of this nation that provide our wealth and give our national competitive advantage. That’s our coal, gas and [inaudible]. We’ve got to, as Australians, stand up and protect those industries.

We see the idea that we go to net zero by 2050, when the communist Chinese say they will do nothing at all until 2030 and then maybe by 2060 they’ll do something.

A policy of net zero, which we reject, will otherwise surrender an economic political and military advantage to the communist Chinese and I as a member of parliament I am not going to stand by and let that happen and be silent about it.

In a free democratic society, no Australian, ever, should be forced to undergo a medical intervention against their free will, being coerced to do so just to hold their job. There are thousands of Australians, tens of thousands at the moment, that are sitting on the sidelines of this economy unable to work. We’ll ensure they all get back to work and this never happens again.

The people’s medical privacy is protected. We have set out a plan to repay the debt, we set out a plan for tackling housing affordability. One of the most important things we must address is to return the great Australian dream to a young generation of Australians and the plans that we have will do exactly that.


Adam Bandt:

I want to see this government gone and I wouldn’t support a Liberal government led by Scott Morrison or by Peter Dutton. I want to see this government gone. Scott Morrison has certainly failed every integrity test. He has had multiple chances to show that he is worthy of this office and he’s failed on every single occasion.

As we head into this election with a - with no government - no record at all for them to campaign on, this government, Scott Morrison has chosen to take a group of people that are needing our support and instead try and prosecute some kind of culture war to improve his position in the polls, a prime minister that politically punches down is not fit to hold office.

But this government has got to go because this government has been the most secretive and least transparent government we have had.

They have made the housing crisis worse. They have made the climate crisis worse. They have used public money to open up new gas projects and make the climate crisis worse. So they have to go. But we need a change of government and in balance of power we will push the next government to tackle the big issues that they’re avoiding during this campaign but we will see, I think, with Greens in balance of power action on climate crisis, action on the cost of living crisis.


Zali Steggall:

Ultimately the Australian people will decide because the outcome of the election is the key element - how close either side becomes to forming their own majority in government – because we need stability of government. But I do have issues of trust with the prime minister.

I have observed him over the last three years and I have repeatedly observed him fail to step up to leadership positions but also to show the adequate necessary respect for women.

I stood out at the March for Justice in March last year, when thousands of women around the country were calling for a more respectful environment, and he failed in that test.

I sat there in parliament as he talked about protesters not far from here being met with bullets.

I saw him absolutely, horrendously throw Christine Holgate – a professional, a respected, a very high, highly respected executive – under the bus in parliament for political gain. It was entirely inappropriate. Like the French president, I have major issues as to the style of leadership that he has allowed to develop in the current Coalition.

So I will negotiate with both sides and I certainly will address the policy issues Warringah wants me to take forward, but I do have questions of trust and moral compass when it comes to the prime minister. If I look at the debate being run out of – with his endorsement out of – in Warringah currently, which is essentially a dog whistle putting incredibly vulnerable people in our community to be the fodder of a political debate, completely irrespective of their safety and wellbeing, I do not find that to be the qualities of leadership I respect.


Back to the national press club – what role will personality play in the event there is a hung parliament and the balance of power rests with one of these crossbenchers?

Craig Kelly:

It shouldn’t be about personality, it should be about policies. I certainly disagreed with Scott Morrison on many issues, but I’m not going to say what others may have said that he should stand down or something if it’s a hung parliament.

It’s got to be about what are the policies that are best for this nation. It’s who’s going to stand up for our national sovereignty at the greatest.

As I said earlier, we got this World Health Organisation Pandemic Accord, the day they’re debating this is the day after the Australian election. What I want to hear from Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese is that they reject this accord, that they’re going to stand up and let Australian doctors make decisions for the Australian public, not be dictated by someone out of Geneva or someone out of Beijing about how we run the next pandemic that comes about. That’s what I want to see. Not about whatever personalities or what dress they wear or how they have changed their glasses or their suit. It’s policies that have got to count.


Mathias Cormann has been confirmed as the Universities Australia conference keynote speaker in July.

The former Coalition finance minister turned OECD head will speak on “Rebuilding Australia’s future”.


Adam Bandt on the work of the crossbench:

I think during this parliament we have seen a terrible government in action and I think if you look at my voting record you’ll find a lot of the time I was voting against the government.

They made the climate crisis worse, they have put up the price of housing. On many of the issues we care about as the Greens, making sure no one in this country lives in poverty, we have been at odds with the government.

The crossbench, I think, has worked really well together to put climate and integrity on the agenda.

One of the things that I guess your question is about, is what we are most proud of in terms of achievements - I think we have managed to get the question of coal and gas on the agenda.

Everyone in parliament at the moment is saying that they’re for climate action, but the government is wanting to open up more coal and gas. Coal and gas are the leading causes of the climate crisis, and one of the things we found on voting records is that it’s often the Greens and some others on the crossbench sitting on one side – but Liberal and Labor sitting together on the other to fund opening up of new coal and gas mines, to oppose lifting income support above the poverty line, to give tax cuts to Clive Palmer and the wealthy instead of making sure that everyone else is looked after.

What you often find is that it is the crossbench giving voice to what the majority of people in this country agree with, while Liberal and Labor are over there sadly voting together.


Zali Steggall on the attractions of the independent candidates:

Communities have had enough and they are emerging, realising that their vote is theirs and it can count and every vote in the House matters, especially when you have tight government, or I would argue a parliament of balance if neither side has a majority.

So communities have decided they don’t want their vote in the House of Representatives to be a proxy vote for a major party, for people behind-the-scenes, making decisions without consulting with communities. So, of course, major parties do not like this challenge to the status quo. For so long it’s been this question of wedge the other side – this focus rather than looking at long-term policies, things that will make a difference to our children, to our future, to our communities.

They are just interested in holding on to power over the next three years or keeping the other side out of power. And that is just so, just disappointing for so many communities. So who we’re seeing is a rise of independent voices around so many communities. It started in Indi.

I know Warringah has inspired so many communities, and I have seen people here from Warringah today who are so excited about [how] we can do politics differently. It can be about positive vision, it can be about solutions and it can be about accountability, and that’s what independents represent.


This seems a slow-burn policy:


Clive Palmer is in the audience for the crossbench debate, supporting his party leader Craig Kelly.

Kelly has some support in the room, getting applause for some of his points. Asked for what his priorities are, he says:

Firstly: This global accord that the World Health Organization is talking about, this global pandemic accord, we will ensure that that doesn’t go ahead. We’ll expect a commitment from either side of politics. (APPLAUSE) To make sure that is rejected. We have seen how they do things in China – that, that lockdown in Shanghai – puts cats and dogs in bags, beating them to death. We cannot surrender the sovereignty of our nation of the medical decisions to the World Health Organisation.

Secondly, we’ll ensure all the mandates end. No one in this country should be forced to ever have to put the risk of losing their job to undergo a medical intervention or injecting any substance in their body. Everyone that is currently mandated out of their work must have their job back.

And thirdly - (APPLAUSE), thirdly, we currently have a health crisis in this nation. The Bureau of Statistics data shows that for January 2022, this January, we have got deaths running 22% above the recent historical average. There is a crisis in healthcare in our nation. We have had these government bureaucrats, health ministers both federal and state, Labor and Liberal, running around saying they’re keeping us safe. The data shows we have had 22% increase deaths in January and no one can explain it*.

*Yes they can – there has been a reduction in the restrictions Kelly had been arguing against and the virus is openly in the community.


Pocock says misleading signs 'corrosive' to democracy

David Pocock, the former Wallabies star who is running as an independent for one of the two ACT Senate seats, has called for truth in political advertising laws, saying “it shouldn’t be up to the voter to try and see through all the lies and misinformation”.

Pocock spoke to Guardian Australia at an event in Canberra, shortly after the Australian Electoral Commission issued a statement saying it considers signage authorised by Advance Australia to be in breach of section 329 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The statement refers to two signs: one depicting Pocock and the other depicting Warringah MP Zali Steggall.

The AEC statement said:

Each sign depicts the face of the candidate, their names (in a style similar to that used in electoral matter authorised by or on behalf of those candidates) and the candidates wearing clothing containing the official logo of the Australian Greens.

The signage contains no other images or phrases that correct the representation made by the images. Both candidates in question are not endorsed by the Australian Greens. The signage has appeared on trucks, including trucks parked near pre-poll voting centres. The signage is authorised by Advance Australia.

AEC statement noted that Advance Australia does not agree there was any breach:

While Advance Australia does not agree that the signs breach the Electoral Act, it has, to avoid the AEC bringing legal proceedings, agreed not to further display the signage without first providing the AEC with 48 hours’ notice.

Pocock said he welcomed the statement, although he was “really disappointed that it’s taken over three weeks”. He said he had first complained to the AEC on 26 April when the signs first appeared.

Asked about the impact the signage might have on the ACT Senate race, Pocock said tens of thousands of Canberrans had already voted so the impact won’t be known until the results are counted, but added “we’ll be getting out there this week, and doing as much as we can leading up to Saturday”:

It shouldn’t be up to the voter to try and see through all the lies and misinformation ... It’s not good for our democracy, it’s corrosive ...

I’ve been putting my name to calls for truth in political advertising laws for years. It’s something that we clearly have to deal with. The majority of Australians want to see these laws in place ...There’s some really good models that work well and actually deter this sort of misinformation and fear mongering.


Crossbench National Press Club debate

Zali Steggall, Craig Kelly, Adam Bandt and Rex Patrick are at the National Press Club talking about the power of independents.


WA premier Mark McGowan calls Peter Dutton 'biggest threat to national security'

West Australian premier Mark McGowan has accused defence minister Peter Dutton of being “the biggest threat to national security”, as he criticised the Coalition for its rhetoric around a Chinese spy ship off the coast of WA last week.

The WA leader claimed Dutton and Morrison were whipping up fear for votes at the election, blasting them for “inflammatory” language around the way that ship’s presence was announced on Friday.

All this rhetoric by Mr Dutton is just politics. His language around war and around ‘we’ve got to be prepared to fight’, all this sort of stuff that’s gone on for the last year is highly dangerous, and it’s against the national interest.

It’s inflammatory, and unnecessary. And I just think he’s, you know, he’s the biggest threat to national security.

After Anthony Albanese finished his Perth press conference to announce hospital funding, McGowan stayed around to answer a few questions of his own. Asked about the Chinese surveillance vessel, which had been travelling through parts of Australia’s exclusive economic zone for a week before Dutton announced its presence and called it “aggressive”, McGowan didn’t hold back.

They’ve known about this for a week or so they’ve got the information out there. Mr Dutton is just trying to stir up fear and all that sort of things from boats. That’s what’s going on.

There was a ship off the coast of Queensland last year. Obviously we send ships through the South China Sea and so forth.

McGowan said he didn’t know about the ship’s presence until after Dutton’s press conference. He noted he had been a navy legal officer before entering politics, and that ships transiting through other nations’ EEZ was not uncommon.

United States, Australia, Britain, we send ships up into other countries exclusive economic zones. If we’re going to allege it’s an aggressive act, other countries can allege that about us.

I just think we need to be very careful about language on these things, because otherwise, you’re essentially giving other countries the opportunity to say the same thing about us when we send ships through other countries exclusive economic zones, including China.

They’ve known about this for a week or so they’ve got the information out there. Mr Dutton is just trying to stir up fear and all that sort of thing to win votes. That’s what’s going on.


Here was Scott Morrison (per the official transcript) speaking to Sabra Lane this morning (Murph alerted you to this a little earlier), again avoiding the modelling question on the latest first home owners policy:

Lane: What, what will happen to housing prices?


I, look because of the balance of policies that we have, which means we’re freeing up housing stock with our downsizing policy. And we’ve got a balanced arrangement for super, which means you can only access up to 40 per cent and you have to put it back in the super. It means this is a balanced, responsible plan which we’ve thought through, which we think minimises any potential impact on house prices.

Lane: And where’s your modelling to show what will happen to house prices as a result?


Well, as I said, the main thing that drives up house prices is supply and demand. If there’s not enough supply, that’s what’s driving house prices up.

Lane: We heard on ...


What we’re doing is enabling, what we’re enabling is people who are sitting on the sidelines unable to get into the housing market because they can’t access their own savings, which they can responsibly decide how much they want to use of that. And the bank still has to give them the loan, they need to have a history of saving. So there are lots of safeguards and guardrails there to protect against the very things, from a policy design point of view, that you’ll highlight.

Lane: But you can’t say what will happen to house pricings?


No, but what I am saying is I think the balancing of all of these factors means that any potential risk on that side is mitigated.


Real estate agency giant Ray White has sent out an economic note comparing both major parties’ first home policy and come to the conclusion that they are both less than ideal:

How do the two schemes compare?

1. Both schemes would lead to prices rising faster than they otherwise would.

Giving first home buyers more money than they otherwise would have means that prices will rise. A similar scheme in the UK to Labor’s “shared equity” proposal led to a six per cent increase in prices in that country. It is likely that similar increases would be seen from either the Labor or Liberal proposals.

2. Using superannuation for buying owner-occupier housing is not recommended.

The family home is not an asset that can be easily cashed in at retirement. Often the equity in the home is used to move into more appropriate accommodation such as retirement homes or aged care facilities. Using superannuation from early on in a person’s life cycle for a home can also lead to far less at retirement, particularly if the family home can’t be easily sold to downsize or does not increase in value as hoped.

3. First home owners usually use the equity in their first home to buy their next home.

First homes are rarely forever homes and most first home buyers use the equity built up in their first homes to get a home more suitable for the next stage of their lives. Having to hand back a big chunk of equity to the government at this stage, or back into superannuation, will make it difficult for first home buyers to get into their next homes

4. Using superannuation is more straightforward than shared equity.

The main criticism of the shared equity model in the UK is that it has hindered by red tape through the life of the ownership of the property. For example, valuations of the property need to be done when people’s incomes increase, conveyancers have had to get involved. Using superannuation is more straightforward in that is people’s own money, rather than taxpayers

5. People have short memories.

Although not an issue now, it is likely that many first home buyers will not be completely happy about handing back a sizeable chunk of their capital gain to the government once they sell, or alternatively forced to put it back into superannuation. This will be even more so the longer that they own the property and the capital gain increases.

The best scheme for first home buyers is currently the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme where eligible buyers do not have to pay mortgage insurance to buy with a lower deposit. This scheme assists with the deposit but is cleaner in that, provided the first home buyer is able to pay off the loan, does not require ongoing government involvement through the life of the first home buyer’s ownership of the property. Beyond that, housing supply is critical - long term, if there are enough homes for everyone, then rental rates and house prices are less likely to increase at rates which cause housing distress to buyers and renters.


The press conference ends.


Q: On Aukus, the prime minister has taken a swipe about the issue about when Labor should have been briefed about the Aukus deal. The reports that the Biden administration wanted it done months prior than it actually happened. He seems to be suggesting that had Labor been brought into the fold months earlier, it would have leaked, particularly from the deputy Labor leader, Richard Marles. Could Labor have been trusted to keep it under wraps, given how close it was in the Coalition ranks?

Anthony Albanese:

I have national security briefings all the time. What this prime minister always does is put the political interests first before the national interest. It’s always about the politics. We were briefed on the Wednesday afternoon.

The prime minister’s office, as you well know because you would have been one of them, went around that afternoon and briefed people in the gallery that I had been briefed on a significant announcement that would occur the next day. That didn’t come from me. That came from the prime minister’s office.

The prime minister’s office went around and said there was a briefing. What I did was convene a meeting of the shadow cabinet and the caucus, and we [discussed] the position that I took to those bodies within hours of the announcement. Labor, and I say this in the state of the great John Curtin, Labor laid the foundations for the US alliance during the second world war when Australia turned to Labor in its darkest hour. We have been supporters of the US alliance ever since.

And what I haven’t done is ever release private text messages between people, let alone between leaders of other countries, which this prime minister quite clearly has done.

We were briefed just beforehand.

The US administration, the information is out there that they expected Labor to be briefed because this is an issue that doesn’t go [only] for a year or a term of parliament.

They expected there to be briefing and expected ... a condition would be bipartisan support. And I make this point.

Even though Labor could not have been more clear, more decisive, or more certain about our support for Aukus, this prime minister has continued to play politics and to suggest that that wasn’t the case at each and every opportunity.

The problem for this prime minister is that he’s always looking for a conflict and a division. That’s what he feeds off. He’s never looking for agreement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s backing Clive Palmer against Mark McGowan, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on national security issues.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s on any other policy issues. Doesn’t matter whether it’s some of the responses to the pandemic. This bloke always looks for the fight, not for the solution. Australia can do better.

Under my leadership, under my leadership if we’re successful on Saturday I’ll look to unite the country, whether it’s big business and unions, whether it’s small business and employees, whether it’s the commonwealth, states and local government working together for our common interests. That’s what this country needs.

Enough of this bloke. Enough of the conflict fatigue that has set in. He can’t change. He won’t change. That’s why people need to change the government.


Q: You quoted Saul Eslake earlier but not everything he said: “Be it first homeowner grants or tax concessions for property investments and shared equity schemes. Anything that allows Australians to spend more on housing than they would results primarily in more expensive housing, not in more people owning homes.” Do you agree with him?

Anthony Albanese:

I agree with our policy.

Q: Do you accept what he says?


Our policy is measured, it’s targeted. It will make a positive difference. Together with the Housing Australia future fund. It will make a difference in terms of increasing supply and putting a roof over people’s heads. I know, I know the benefit of a secure roof over your head. It’s my life. It’s how I have got to a position - the son of a single mum who grew up in public housing to be running for prime minister of this country. It gave me the confidence and security in life, and my first campaign I spoke about this at the National Press Club, was against the privatisation of what I saw as my home. As my home. I want a ... comprehensive plan on housing.


Q: Terri Butler is the latest Queensland MP claiming that a vote for the Greens would help to reinstall Scott Morrison. Do you accept that that is untrue?

Anthony Albanese:

It may well. Why would I accept that?

Q: If the Greens hold the balance of power, there’s no way that they’re backing the Coalition?


The Greens formed a coalition in Tasmania with the Liberals. What I am interested in is electing Labor members of parliament. Electing Labor members of parliament and I want Terri Butler re-elected because she, as environment minister, will do more for the environment than any Green sitting next to Adam Bandt ever will.


Q: On the stage three tax cuts, the Greens have made it very clear they don’t support them. Do you remain committed to them? And will you support the tax cuts – if there is a condition to doing a deal if the government is to drop them? Will you stand by them? And are you willing to trade that away for government?

Anthony Albanese:

They’ve been legislated. We support them. We stand by that. We don’t support the Greens. I am seeking to form government in my own right.


Q: Just on housing plans - yours is about government equity. The Coalition’s is about super. Why do you think that it is appropriate or better for a government to take equity of a home rather than for an Australian to own their own home?

Anthony Albanese:

Our plan is based upon plans that work, that we know work because it’s been working here in WA for 30 years.

In Victoria, in the model that they did, their trial, which has been supported in the past by Scott Morrison since 2017, I’m advised, that about one in six of the people who participated in that scheme have actually then bought out the government equity. It’s given them the foot in the door of homeownership for low- and middle-income earners. That’s why it’s a good policy. We know it works.


Q: On productivity - you said just now that everything that we are investing in is about boosting productivity. Can you tell me how building BMX parks, painting murals on walls, building dog parks. How is that boosting productivity? These are promises that your candidates have made.

Anthony Albanese:

Well, commitments that are about improving the quality of life for people are also things that happen during election campaigns. Our major ...

If you don’t think that the arts community are worthy of any support, that’s not a view that I hold. Our priority investments during this campaign - what’s the largest investment? And less, mind you, than was wasted on the subs deal that didn’t lead to anything, is childcare. What are our other significant investments? The National Broadband Network. What are the other significant investments? Increased skills through 465,000 fee-free Tafe places. They are our priorities. Our infrastructure investments, including those that will make here in WA.


Albanese calls Coalition housing scheme 'an attack on future generations'

Q: Just further on housing. For a lot of the campaign, you’ve been saying that where’s a good idea you’ll support it. On the super home buying scheme, you clearly don’t support the thought bubble. Are you prepared for a housing contest in the final week? And are you worried that it could sway young voters crucial to electing you?

Anthony Albanese:

I welcome a contest of ideas. Our policies are thought through, are focused, are assisting people to buy. Are focused on social housing. Are focused on what works, such as the WA scheme here.

Where a policy is a good idea, and one of the issues that we came up with yesterday, the extension of the downsizing policy, we welcomed. It’s a good idea. This policy is not a good idea. This government are – at the same time that they’re saying that they support real wage cuts, are saying that they want to cut people’s super. And the problem with that is - not just ... I’ve had a range of questions around fiscal responsibility.

I’ll give you this big tip - if you take super away from people, then you’ll have higher deficits and bills from the government in the future. What super is about is making sure that people can retire with a decent income.

That is the purpose of the superannuation system. It was designed to give people a comfortable retirement. If you gut people’s super savings, that means, down the track, more people dependant upon the pension, more pressure on budgets in the future. That’s what it’s about.

That’s what this debate is about. But this government, every opportunity they have to attack super, they do so. That is what they did, consistently, when they fiddled around and eventually they got dragged kicking and screaming. I mean, the Oz [the Australian] would have had 20 articles about them not moving the super up. Greg [reporter who is present at the press conference] wrote most of them, probably. The truth is that they do, every opportunity, attack superannuation and particularly industry super, even though the return on industry super last year was, you know, Oz Super and companies like that produced about a 20% return. This year, this year, the return is less but still nearing double figures, the return.

This is an attack on future savings. It’s an attack on future generations. It’s not about people.


Q: Will you confirm that the deficits will be higher under Labor over the forwards compared to the Coalition? And when will you ...

Anthony Albanese:

You only get one.

Q: I’m confirming others: when will you release the details behind the costings for the policies? Those question have been put to you multiple times now.


We will announce ... We will put out all of the opposition’s costings in the usual way at the usual time frame as oppositions have.

Q: Can you answer the question that has been asked?


We will put out all of our costings as oppositions have in the usual way at the usual time frame. But we have put forward our costings all the way through. We have had new announcements from the government yesterday. I have also said, clearly indicated, what we will do in government through Department of Treasury and the Department of Finance.


Q: Former RBA governor Ian McFarlane gave a speech a few days ago where he said that we are going to address the issue of housing affordability; whilst politically unpopular, there will need to be some drop in house prices. Now, you and the government have made the same criticism of each other’s house plans. You say that the super plan will put up house prices. He says your Home to Buy plan will put up house prices. Do you agree with the idea that we do need to see some sort of a drop? Or at the very least, a decline in the rapid rise we’ve seen in house prices to address the issue of affordability? And if so, don’t you therefore need to do something to make sure that when you’re doing any policy that might increase demand, you’re also increasing supply?

Anthony Albanese:

Let’s be very clear about the difference in the housing policies between what we have announced and what the government has announced.

The government in its desperation has come up with a thought bubble –[which] according to itself has not been modelled. They have no idea what the impact will be, except that Minister Hume belled the cat this morning. Minister Hume said that it will put upward pressure on housing prices. That’s what they’ve said. They’ve acknowledged that that is the case.

The government now have a policy to cut super, to cut real wages of those on the minimum wage and to increase the cost of living pressures on people who are doing it really tough at the moment.

In contrast, our policy includes: the establishment of a housing supply and affordability council. Working with Mark McGowan and other state premiers and chief ministers on how we have a national strategy to increase supply of housing. The key is - you’ve got to increase supply if you want to deal with some of the housing affordability issues. But in addition to that, we have a policy for 20,000 additional social housing dwellings. 10,000 affordable housing dwellings for essential ... announced yesterday, has been opposed by their own ministers in their own government over a long period of time, whether it be Paul Fletcher or Sussan Ley and others, and now they’ve come up with the plan that Saul Eslake called the worst housing policy in decades.


Q: With investing in the enhancement, but over the next four years, will those investments lead to higher budget deficits than the Coalition?

Anthony Albanese:

Those investments will lead to higher productivity.

Q: Will the costings go higher under Labor?


You get to ask a question and then I get to answer it. That’s the other part of the deal here. You get to ask the question, I get to answer it! The question is – will there be higher productivity under Labor?

Q: The question is higher deficits over the forward estimates?


If you want an answer, you’ve got to stop talking. OK. That’s the deal.

... We will have a fiscally responsible policy. You can’t say on the one hand that Labor isn’t announcing enough expenditure, enough big things.

And then on the other hand say that we’re not being fiscally responsible, because we are.

Everything we are investing in, everything we are investing in is about boosting productivity. And in terms of the fiscal position, the other thing that I have said repeatedly, but I’ll repeat it again - we will have Treasury and finance go through an audit line by line to get rid of the waste and the rorts that this government have had.

This government spent $70 billion between the midyear economic forecast and the budget in March. $70 billion with no offsets. This government have established multiple funds. We don’t know where all of the money is in those funds. That’s why Treasury and finance will go through. We understand the need to have a fiscally responsible policy, which is why our investments are targeted at boosting productivity.


Q: Mr Albanese, you’ve been saying all election that you’ll be a safe pair of hands for the economy, that Labor will be fiscally responsible. There’s now less than a week until the election. When will Labor outline its costings?

Anthony Albanese:

One of the things that we have done this entire election campaign is with each policy, we announce what the costings are. The idea that we don’t have costings out there is, quite frankly, absurd. Today’s costing of $75m would be contributed from the federal Labor government and $75 million from the McGowan government.


Q: Mr Albanese, will you say clearly today that the deficit will be higher under Labor? And do you have specific targets?

Anthony Albanese:

What we have prioritised is investments that will boost productivity. Whether that’s in nation-building infrastructure. Whether that be in our powering Australia plan, which will see $52 billion of private sector investment, will see 604,000 new jobs created. Will see the economy grow in a sustainable way by taking advantage of the opportunities that’s there from climate change action. Whether it be our Future Made in Australia plan. One of the things that we want to do, and the announcement that I made here during the campaign launch, we put aside $1 billion of the national reconstruction fund for value adding for resources.

We see enormous opportunities in things like battery production and others. WA has such fantastic minerals. We need to, where we can, continue to export them. Sure!

But where we can value-add, boost productivity here as well. Our NBN plan to make sure that we build on the rollout of fibre - 21st century technology, not copper from the last century – will boost productivity. And importantly, after this visit, we’ll be going to a childcare centre in Hasluck. One of the things that it will do is boost workforce participation.


Anthony Albanese press conference

The Labor leader is campaigning on health in WA, with premier Mark McGowan.

Medicare is at the heart of Labor’s health agenda. We have had a series of Medicare announcements to strengthen Medicare and to strengthen the health system. The health system is what brought me into politics, through my own personal experience. And I know the difference that a good healthcare system can have. We want to work with Mark McGowan and with other state governments around the country to deliver better health outcomes. This announcement today is a practical announcement that will deliver on that capital upgrade, that will deliver, particularly when it’s needed arising out of the Covid pandemic.


Trevor Sofield, the former Australian high commissioner to Solomon Islands who tried to confront Scott Morrison in the seat of Bass last week, has popped up at a Pacific climate summit in Canberra this morning.

He began with a quip about the encounter:

David Pocock [who spoke earlier at the same event today] – I think he’d be pleased to know that because I posed such an existential threat to the prime minister ... that a major rugby powerhouse of Australia has offered me a million dollar contract.

Sofield is speaking at the Smart Energy Council-organised event about Australia’s relationship with Pacific countries.

He argues Australia has lost trust in the region. He says looking back over the last 10 years

I just see a very sad situation.

He says Australia needs to take an integrated approach to assist Pacific island states attain their goals.


A former RBA board member has entered the chat (Warwick McKibbon is one of the board members the government likes to quote from).

He served from 2001 to 2011.


AEC considers Advance Australia 'Greens' signs in breach of electoral act

The AEC has released a statement:

The AEC considers that the following signage authorised by the entity Advance Australia is in breach of section 329 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act). The signage depicts:

· Mr David Pocock, of the ‘David Pocock’ party, a Senate candidate for the ACT

· Ms Zali Steggall, an independent candidate for the electorate of Warringah

Each sign depicts the face of the candidate, their names (in a style similar to that used in electoral matter authorised by or on behalf of those candidates) and the candidates wearing clothing containing the official logo of the Australian Greens.

The signage contains no other images or phrases that correct the representation made by the images.

Both candidates in question are not endorsed by the Australian Greens. The signage has appeared on trucks, including trucks parked near pre-poll voting centres. The signage is authorised by Advance Australia.

It is an offence to publish, permit or authorise to be published during the relevant period (being the period commencing on the issue of the writ for the election and expiring at the latest time on polling day at which an elector in Australia could enter a polling booth for the purpose of casting a vote in the election) any matter or thing that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote: s 329 of the Electoral Act.

The AEC, or a candidate, can seek an injunction under s 383 of the Electoral Act in the Federal Court in relation to conduct that breaches s 329.

In Garbett v Liu [2019] FCAFC 241 (24 December 2019) at [91] the Full Federal Court explained: ‘In s 329(1) the phrase “likely to mislead or deceive an elector” means a real chance of misleading or deceiving any elector, even one who is unintelligent, or gullible, or naïve.’ This decision provides a new judicial precedent that is important to understand for electoral campaigning now and in the future.

While Advance Australia does not agree that the signs breach the Electoral Act, it has, to avoid the AEC bringing legal proceedings, agreed not to further display the signage without first providing the AEC with 48 hours’ notice.


After the RBA lifted its cash rate target at the start of May (smack in the middle of the election campaign) we’ve seen some pullback in the property market.

Preliminary stats from CoreLogic (which typically get revised lower as more data lands) indicate the auction clearance rate has fallen for a fourth week in a row.

Now, part of the story is there were more properties on the market as the Easter/Anzac Day disruptions subsided. The 2,847 homes under the hammer were up 38% on the previous week – but down 2% from a year earlier.

On the 2,228 results collected, the prelim figures suggest 64.6% of homes were sold, down from 77% a year ago. (After revisions, the previous week’s clearance ended at 61.8%, so perhaps this past week may sink below 60% when things settle).

Sydney (and Canberra) did better than a week early in relation to the clearance rate, but there was a big caveat. More than one-fifth – 22.1%, in fact – of the city’s auctions were withdrawn from the market – not the sign of a bullish market.

“This time last year 78.9% of the 1,150 auctions held across Sydney returned a successful result,” Corelogic notes. This past week, there were 934 auctions in the harbour city, with 61.1% sold, according to the preliminary numbers.

And it’s worth keeping in mind that we are really at the start of a series of RBA rate rises (short of a cataclysm nobody really wants...).


For those wondering, the Jason Falinski-led committee which looked at home ownership solutions recommended superannuation be used – but as collateral:

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government allow first home buyers to use their superannuation assets as security for home loans.

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop and implement policy allowing first home buyers to use their superannuation balance as collateral for a home, without using the funds themselves as a deposit, thereby expanding the opportunity for home buyers.

Implementation of this policy should depend on also implementing policies to increase the supply of housing (such as Recommendation 2). Otherwise, an increase in households’ ability to borrow would likely increase property prices. This recommendation will therefore remove the largest barrier for home buyers; being the deposit.


Saul Eslake continues:

I think yesterday, when I first heard this policy echoing something Kevin Rudd said during the 2007 election campaign, that this reckless inflation of house prices must stop, but 40 years of following the housing market tells me that, however desirable it would be to stop it, politicians aren’t going to stop it because there aren’t any votes for them on that in doing it. I wish that politicians, and others, would look at the evidence, which as I say, I ... think is incontrovertible.

Even Senator Hume conceded the policy would cause a bump in property prices, which would disadvantage those who aren’t able to arrange their affairs in order to take up this scheme, perhaps because they don’t have enough superannuation savings stocked away in order do this.

Mathias Cormann said in 2014, when this idea was last floated by Liberal backbenchers, that it would not work and would make the problem worse. Malcolm Turnbull said the same thing in 2016. The overwhelming majority of all of those who don’t have a vested interest in ever-escalating property prices is that schemes like this are counterproductive.

For the record, Eslake says he owns one house (Hume made the assumption he owned more than one on ABC TV this morning).


'Contender for one of worst housing policies of the last 30 years,' Saul Eslake says

Economist Saul Eslake is not holding back in his criticism of the Coalition’s superannuation housing policy.

He tells the ABC:

Well, it’s not as bad as the reduction in capital gains tax on investment properties that the Howard government implemented in 1999.

It’s probably not as bad as the Howard government’s decision to extend first-homeowner grants to purchasers of established housing after the introduction of the GST, even though the GST didn’t apply to purchases of established housing.

But it’s a contender, apart from those two, for one of the worst housing policy decisions of the last 30 or so years.

We have, as you alluded to in your introduction just then, almost 60 years of evidence that, in my view, shows unequivocally and veritably that anything which allows Australians to spend more on housing than they otherwise would, be it first homeowner grants introduced in 1964, stamp duty concessions by state governments, tax preferences for property investors that were expanded under the Howard government, shared equity schemes, mortgage deposit guarantee schemes, or this one – anything that allows Australians to spend more on housing than they otherwise would – results primarily in more expensive housing rather than in more people owning that housing – that is, in higher homeownership rates.

And I’ve often asked myself, ‘Why do politicians of both political persuasions, not just Coalition ones, continue to do things that disadvantage the people they say they’re trying to help – namely, aspiring first-homebuyers?

And the only plausible answer I can come up with is that, for all the crocodile tears they share about the difficulties faced by aspiring young first-homebuyers in getting their first foot on the property market ladder, they know that in any given year there are only 100,000 who succeed in that pursuit.

And maybe if there are four or five who fail to achieve that goal for every one who does, there’s maybe 400,000 or 500,000 votes for policies that would restrain the rate of property price inflation. But politicians also know that, at any given point in time, there are at least 11 million people who own at least one property. Within that, there are more than 2 million who own more than one property.

... The point is that politicians know there are far more votes in policies that push up house prices than there are to be had in policies that restrain the rate of growth of property prices. And John Howard was a pretty astute reader of the mood of the electorate – that’s why he won four elections in a row and became Australia’s second-longest-serving prime minister. He would occasionally say that no one ever came up to him on his walks, saying, “Please, Mr Prime Minister, would you do something that makes my house cheaper so that someone else can buy it more readily?”

The reality is politicians of both political persuasions know that there really aren’t many votes in doing things that would help first-homebuyers generally, whereas there are lots of votes in pursuing policies that would make existing property owners richer than they already are.

Homes in McMahons Point on Sydney’s north shore.
Homes in McMahons Point on Sydney’s north shore. Photograph: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images


Here is Scott Morrison on 2 May criticising Labor’s shared equity scheme, which is open to just 10,000 people:

And so you’ll be going along to an auction and there’ll be someone who’s bidding against you. And they’ll be bidding with the government, and you’ll be bidding on your own. And so I don’t think Labor have thought these things through.

That same day, Morrison also questioned whether rising interest rates would cause mortgage stress for hundreds of thousands of people:

Journalist: Hundreds of thousands of Australians may go into mortgage stress if the RBA increases rates tomorrow. If that happens, would you take personal responsibility for the financial pain that they may feel?

Prime minister: Well explain to me your numbers. You said hundreds of thousands of people will go into mortgage stress when cash rates are at 0.1%. So what are these reports?

Journalist: There are reports in the papers today that if mortgage rates go up, then a little bit, then the pressure’s on because they’re maxed out on their mortgages. Will you take responsibility if rates go up?

Prime minister: Well, when I became prime minister, the cash rate was 1.5%. The cash rate today is 0.1%. When we came to government the cash rate was 2.5%. I mean, mortgage rates now and we’re talking about the average discounted rate is about 3.6, but many people will be on a lot lower mortgages. We’ve got people have moved from 20% fixed rates to 40% fixed rates. And you know what that tells me? Australians know what’s going on. They know there are pressures that are coming from outside of Australia on interest rates. I mean, 0.1 has been an historically, unconventionally low rate and it’s been there since November of 2020. So these rates are very low and Australians know that there is pressure on these rates and they know that over time how we manage the economy, how we manage the government’s finances, will impact potentially on what happens to rates and they could go higher than they might otherwise go. That’s why economic management and financial management in government is going to play a key role in just how much more people are going to pay. And so the bank will decide. The Reserve Bank, the independent Reserve Bank should rightly decide where cash rates are set. They are at historic lows at the moment, at 0.1%. But what I do commend the Australian people for, they’ve been making the choices to move to fixed rates, they’ve been making the choices over the course of the pandemic to ensure that they’ve been where they can, get ahead of that mortgage and to be paying down and ensure that they’ve been building up buffers.

I mean, you can also see on household balance sheets hundreds of billions of dollars on household balance sheets as Australians have been insulating themselves over the course of the pandemic to deal with these shocks that they knew would be coming. And so my commendation to the Australian people is they’ve been following the same prudent financial management that the government has, and that has built up protections and that’s what we’ve been doing.

Could you imagine how much harder it would be to pay a mortgage if we hadn’t had jobkeeper and 700,000 people were out of a job or we didn’t do the cash flow boost, which would have seen small businesses collapsing all around the country or the support we’re providing to first homeowners to get in and own their home in the first place. I mean, we’ve been taking steps to strengthen the resilience of our economy and the resilience of household family balance sheets and small business balance sheets so they can deal with and weather the challenges that we’re going to face.


The final time he was asked about modelling, Scott Morrison said he didn’t agree with the “assertion” it would have an impact:

Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers has responded to the Coalition’s housing policy:

I think people are on to Scott Morrison. You know, all the spin and all the marketing from Scott Morrison, then all of a sudden, six days out from the election, people see this for what it is. It’s a desperate last-minute act of political and economic vandalism, more about where Scott Morrison lives and not where they live.

CoreLogic, a property data company, has just released their take on the Coalition’s twin-pronged housing policy unveiled by PM Scott Morrison on Sunday at the campaign launch.

To summarise: CoreLogic says the ability to access superannuation for first-homebuyers will boost demand for houses and raise prices (as superannuation minister Senator Jane Hume conceded this morning – see earlier post, and Paul Karp’s piece here.) It will also increase inequality.

And as for the “downsizing” component of the plan, which Morrison touted this morning as part of the “balanced” housing policy because it will increase supply, CoreLogic is dismissive, noting that the existing scheme has not had a big impact.

In more detail, the data group says:

Allowing first homebuyers to access superannuation for their upfront housing costs on a broad basis will add to demand, and this could increase the cost of housing. This may be good news for homeowners looking to protect their wealth, or sellers in an environment where housing market conditions are starting to soften, but for first homebuyers it could erode some of the benefit of dipping into their super.


It is a very challenging time to be incentivising more housing demand in the face of supply-side constraints. Housing construction costs have risen significantly, adding to the cost and timeline of new builds.

But on equity, CoreLogic makes this important point that actually very few young would-be buyers would have much super to tap into in the first place.

According to ABS data, the median superannuation balance in Australia was around $55,000 at June 2020. First homebuyers are typically younger, and the median super balance was just $25,000 for those aged between 25 and 34 years of age.

In other words, with the cap at 40%, the scheme would offer just $10,000 at the median level, or the equivalent of some state-based first homeowner grants. “CoreLogic data shows the current median dwelling value in Australia is $748,635, meaning the scheme could help increase the size of a standard deposit by around 1%.” Not so large.

Unlike the first home loan deposit scheme, or Labor’s proposed shared equity scheme, there are no income caps associated with the [Coalition’s] super homebuyer scheme, making it far more advantageous for young first homebuyers on higher incomes.

And as for the supply component, the data crunchers imply downsizing will not do much to increase the amount of homes on the market – which Morrison has stressed is a key part of the equation.

CoreLogic notes those over 65 years of age can already make a once-off contribution of up to $300,000 (per person if a couple sells), with the government previously proposing to cut this threshold to 60 by July. This will now be open for those 55 and over, if the government is re-elected.

CoreLogic says some 1.3 million households would be eligible for the scheme, but note that the existing scheme (for those over 65) came into effect in 2018 but hard triggered many takers.

[Only] around 22,000 had utilised it between July 2018 and May 2021,” the firm notes.

It seems that downsizing is a nice idea, but unless other deterrents – such as stamp duty hits – plus the fact that people quite like living in their existing home, suggest the greying hoards (this correspondent included) probably aren’t going to leap at the one.


Anthony Albanese’s Labor campaign is in Perth today, and he’s been on the city’s Triple M radio. He says he’ll be campaigning in the Liberal-held seats of Pearce, Hasluck and Swan today – and will be joined by Western Australian premier Mark McGowan.

Swan and Pearce are held by retiring Liberal MPs and are therefore major Labor targets, but Hasluck is held by veteran minister Ken Wyatt and seen as a longer shot.

Albanese wasn’t asked about the Coalition’s superannuation for housing plan, which his Labor MPs have been blasting this morning.

Instead he said he’d be making a health announcement for WA hospital infrastructure, which was aimed at reducing wait time for surgery. The campaign is heading to a local hospital today.

Albanese told Triple M the campaign was “nearing the end of the 4th quarter – it’s nearly “time on’.”

I’ll be satisfied I’m leaving nothing in the tank.

Continuing the series of sports metaphors, he claimed the Coalition was “trying to play defence” because “they haven’t got any new players”.

We’re fresh, we’ve got some new players on the bench,” he said.

Albanese will hold his daily press conference in around an hour from now.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese holds up a dollar coin while speaking at a Labor party rally at The Rivershed in Brisbane on Sunday.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese holds up a dollar coin while speaking at a Labor party rally at The Rivershed in Brisbane on Sunday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


The press conference ends.

Scott Morrison avoids housing price modelling questions

Scott Morrison takes a question from another reporter who asks about the modelling on house prices:

Q: Back to housing for a second. So, in terms of the specific element of the policy which relates to people being able to use super contributions to be able to pay for their first home, have you done any modelling on the impact that that is gonna have on house prices? And are you prepared to release that, on that specific element of the two-pronged policy?

Scott Morrison:

I simply just don’t agree with the assertion ...

... No, no, the assertion that this would have a negative impact, because you have to look at the balance of policies that this is addressing. It deals with supply and it deals with demand.

And these same criticisms have been levelled at every single housing policy I have been bringing forward.

And on every occasion they have proved to be wrong on those criticisms. So, I’m not about, now, to go and give them currency. What I know is Australians, they want access to their own savings to buy their own home, to support them and their family, to come and live in a wonderful place like this in Springfield, in the electorate of Blair.

And the only way they’re going to be able to do that, the only way, is if they vote Liberal and National at this election on Saturday. If they vote for Sam [Blair candidate] on Saturday, that is the only way you will ever get access to those savings, your money – that’s what this policy does. Labor is against it. They’ll never give you access to it. Only the Liberal-Nationals will ensure that you can get into your own home by using your own savings in your own retirement pool. And that’s a guarantee.


Q: You just said you weren’t gonna risk it with Labor. Does that mean you cannot trust Labor? I mean, 12 hours’ notice is quite extraordinary. And this is the second time where the US has raised questions about how you handled it. Also too there was the complaints that you didn’t square things away with the French before this was announced. Joe Biden said that himself.

Scott Morrison:

The agreement was secured.

It was secured in Australia’s interests. We maintained the absolute discretion and security of these negotiations and discussions as was needed to secure the agreement.

This was ... I mean, no country other than the United Kingdom has been able to gain access to nuclear-powered submarine technology since the late 50s. And previous Australian prime ministers and governments have tried and failed. I was not going to fail. I was going to ensure that we got this done.

And the requirements – I’ve already gone over the issues in terms about what we told the French government. Of course, they were never going to be happy about cancelling a $90bn contract. But a contract that had gates in it, gates this you either went through or you didn’t, and we were always very clear about that. We met what we had to meet in order to ensure that this agreement could proceed, and it’s going to keep Australians safe.

And it was a Liberal-National government that delivered it, that initiated it, that took it through, and that secured it, and it has been one of the most significant policies to impact on security in our region that we’ve seen in many, many decades. That, together with our role in ensuring that we revitalise the Quad between Australia, the United States, Japan, and India, and seeing that lifted to a leader dialogue level.

These two policies, together, have kept Australia safe. And I wasn’t going to risk that. I was never gonna risk that. It was too important for Australia’s future


Scott Morrison deliberately ignores a question on the modelling again.

Q: How can you be trusted on national security and pursuing Australia’s interests when you deliberately misrepresented the bipartisan nature of Aukus for months? Labor was briefed the day before?

Scott Morrison:

That report is absolutely false. We understood absolutely what the requirements were and we met them 100%. I find it passing strange that you think that we wouldn’t have maintained the absolute discretion, as we did with so many of our own cabinet.

I mean, we’ve only seen it highlighted over the course of the last couple of weeks – I mean, you’ve got the deputy leader of the Labor party, who would have been sitting in such a briefing, who had, you know, frequent flyer points for visiting the Chinese embassy in Australia.

I mean, seriously, this was one of the most secure and highly confidential agreements the Australian government had entered into since Anzus...

... We absolutely complied with all of the issues that needed to be addressed in forming that partnership, and the policy did receive bipartisan support. For that, I’m thankful. But I can tell you this – you never trust the person who just gets on board later. You trust the person who had the foresight to put it together in the first place.

This was a process that, for 18 months, painstakingly working through incredible detail, in incredibly sensitive issues, highly confidential, this was not something that I was gonna be loose with.

And I wasn’t loose with it.

When the opposition needed to be informed, then they were, just as other members of the government were informed at that time.

The National Security Committee had carriage of this policy and that is the group that I work closely with. And prior to that, the minister for foreign affairs and minister for defence. We understood fully what the requirements were. Aukus is a groundbreaking agreement, the most significant defence security agreement Australia has entered into in over 70 years. And I was not going to risk that on the Labor party.


Q: Prime minister, the modelling, will you release it?

Morrison ignores it.


Q: Prime minister, economists and other experts like the Financial Services Council have criticised this scheme. It’s not just Labor. You say this is well-decided, well-thought-out. What research or analysis do you have to back up the scheme? What is your ... ?

Scott Morrison:

I refer to the comments by Ken Morrison from the Property Council of Australia, who has basically dismissed – dismissed – I mean, this is the head of the Property Council of Australia, has also disagreed with some of those analyses that others have done.

And what our government has always done is focused on ensuring that Australians get their own choices. And as I’ve set out to you, the proportion of first-homebuyers of the entire real estate market is marginal.

And therefore many of the assumptions that others have made about this have been based on false assumptions. And our policies are designed just to ensure people can get that access to their money.

See, this is the problem I have with those. This is the problem I have with those who would seek to pour scorn on this proposal. They’re happy for Australians who are trying to get into that home, they’re happy for them to have to watch the opportunity pass them by.

So, if you’re asking me, “Am I going to agree with those who want to stand with the big-union super funds?” I’m going to stand with the homebuyer. That’s who I’m standing with and I’ve stood with 300,000 of them in the past three years. They made all the same criticisms of all the policies that we put in place that has put 300,000 people into their own home. That’s my record. I’ve done it and I’ve done it over a long period of time. I’ve got people into their own homes. So, I’m sticking with our plan because I know our plan stands by the homebuyer, not by those who, frankly, don’t want you to be in control of your own money.

Scott Morrison visits the Springfield Rise Sales & Information Centre in the Blair electorate in Brisbane on Monday.
Scott Morrison visits the Springfield Rise Sales & Information Centre in the Blair electorate in Brisbane on Monday. Photograph: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images


Q: Prime minister, the telltale signs of an economic slowdown are all around us: rising interest rates, rising cost of living, falling house prices. Can you guarantee Australia is not heading into a recession? And can you guarantee there won’t be cuts to reign in spending if you’re elected?

Scott Morrison:

I have to pull you up on the presumption of your question. You’ve just told me house prices are increasing.

Q: I didn’t. I said they’re falling. Rising interest rates, rising cost of living ...


Now you’re saying they’re falling. Rising interest rates and rising inflation, as we all know, is the product of what we’re seeing with a global set of forces on Australia where Australia is actually performing better than almost all of the advanced countries in the world. Unemployment is at 4% and falling. That is not the sign of a weakening economy. That’s the sign of a strengthening economy. And with more people getting into work, the biggest challenge we face in this country economically right now is getting more people into skills and into jobs. That’s what the economy needs. The thing we have to be careful of is policies that we know the Labor party ... You know, the Labor party has not submitted one policy for costing during this campaign. We’ve maintained our AAA credit rating through the worst economic crisis we’ve seen since the Great Depression.


Home price increases will be 'marginal', claims Scott Morrison

Q: Your own superannuation minister this morning said people will bring forward the decision to buy a house earlier and for that reason it will probably big up housing prices temporarily. But what percentage are you increasing this policy will add to house prices and have you thought carefully about this the policy?

Scott Morrison:

We’ve thought carefully about this policy and when you take this policy together with the downsizing initiative – remember this gives people access to their superannuation to buy a home.

That includes new homes. New stock. You would have seen on the plan in there whole areas of new land opening up for development which will mean new stock.

That means more supply.

That means downward pressure on otherwise rising pressure. The number one issue that forces up housing prices in this country is insufficient supply. And this policy, the downsizing policy, the homebuilder policy, has has all been about increasing that supply.

So when taken together – Jane was referring in isolation – when taken together as Michael Sukkar was and when you look at the proportion of first homebuyers of the entire real estate market, it’s quite marginal. It’s quite marginal.

So I know Labor doesn’t like this idea. I know Labor doesn’t want you to have access to your super. I know they think that those who run superannuation are more important to them than you are to them because they won’t let you get access to your money. They want to keep your money in someone’s else’s control. I don’t agree with that. I just don’t agree with us it’s your money and it should be your home.


Q: Several members, influential members, of your own party in recent years have come out against this super-for-housing idea, including Peter Dutton in 2017 and John Howard last year, who said that super was for retirement. And Malcolm Turnbull came out last year and said it was the craziest idea he’d heard. Are they all heard? Why is it suddenly a good idea?

Scott Morrrison:

I was with Peter Dutton and John Howard yesterday and they were enthusiastically in support of the plan. This is something I’ve been working towards for some time. I’ve had a great passion for this. I started the first home super saver scheme and Labor opposed it. They opposed it. They’ve always opposed it.

This was the plan which enabled you to put more into your superannuation so you could access [a deposit earlier] Labor opposed it. The HomeBuilder program. Labor bagged it. They mocked it. It’s helped tens of thousands of people to own their own home and here we approximate are today saying you can access your own money, protect your retirement savings and get in your own home and Labor are opposing it.

Q: So have cut and Howard changed their minds?



Scott Morrison:

Our plan is putting Australians in charge of their future with their own money. It’s their money. We’ll not tell them what to do with it. They’ll make their own decisions.

But we’re not going to lock them away from it. We’re not going to let them stand on the kerb while housing prices run away from them and they’re not getting that opportunity.

We’re meeting people today who will take up the opportunity. We have people who have already taken up the opportunity in Springfield using the homebuilder program. So there’s only one way you can get access to your money in your superannuation to help you buy your home and that is to vote Liberal and National this Saturday.

Labor will never let you do it. They think it’s their money to tell you what to do with. I believe it’s your money and to get access to your own money to help you buy a house, the only way to achieve that is to vote Liberal and National next Saturday.

Scott Morrison at Springfield Rise Display Village, 25km south of Brisbane, in the seat of Blair on Monday.
Scott Morrison at Springfield Rise Display Village, 25km south of Brisbane, in the seat of Blair on Monday. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Scott Morrison press conference

As expected, it is all about first homeowners:

Now, this does two things. It ensures we are reinforcing people’s retirement savings, but we’re also freeing up more housing supply, which does put downward pressure on the rising costs of housing across the country. This plan is about utilising people’s own savings, their own superannuation, so they don’t have to stand on the curb and watch house prices run away from them and they’re unable to get in and own their own home.


Anthony Albanese is in Western Australia, which means we will have a press conference a little later because of the time difference.


Scott Morrison is meeting with first homeowners who entered the market (in the electorate of Blair) under the Coalition’s existing first homeowners policy “homebuilder””.

He is working to keep the conversation away from wages.

His press conference is expected soon.


Fair Agenda has released its report into which candidates have taken its pledge to improve safety for women and end gender based violence:

The report reveals that many of the high-profile independents have taken the Pledge for a Safer Future and committed to significant action to end gender-based violence; as well as a party-wide commitment from the Australian Greens. The Australian Labor party also provided a full party-wide commitment to all but a few of the actions called for.

This stands in stark contrast to the Coalition who only had one candidate make commitments: Andrew Constance, contesting in the seat of Gilmore, who fully committed to five of the six areas of the Pledge for a Safer Future. The Coalition’s party response did not provide a commitment to any of the specific actions put forward for future action; instead providing a statement focused on commitments made during the last parliament. At the start of the election, a collection of experts reviewed the Coalition’s track record in the last parliament and scored these existing actions as poor.

You can find the details, here.


Given we keep hearing how Australia is “world leading” in its Covid response, Paul Karp took a look:


Scott Morrison is campaigning in the Labor held seat of Blair in Queensland’s south-east today.

It’s all about first homeowners.


NSW reports four Covid deaths

NSW has reported its latest Covid figures:


Labor says Morrison's super housing plan 'the last desperate act of a dying government'

This pretty much distills Labor’s message on the Coalition’s super policy.

Jason Clare on the ABC this morning:

This is like throwing kerosene on a bonfire. In Sydney where we are talking today from, where I am here, the expectation is that it would increase the cost of a home here in Sydney by $134,000. This is the last desperate act of a dying government. If they really thought this was a good idea, do you think they would plant it six days before an election? They have been in office for almost a decade. If they thought this was a good idea, they would have done this years ago. The fact is every Liberal leader that has looked at this, whether it is people like John Howard or Peter Costello or Malcolm Turnbull or even Mathias Cormann looked at this and worked out it would make it harder for people to buy a home, not easier because it would push prices up.


There has been a lot of talk of the impact of the teal independents, but the Greens are aiming for the balance of power as well, as Sarah Martin reports:

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.

The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, has ruled out doing any deals with the Greens to form government, while Bandt has said the party will not support the Liberals under any circumstance.

But the Greens are preparing their list of key demands for Labor in the event that it falls short of the 76 seats it needs to form majority government, with the party confident of winning at least one seat in Queensland to give it two lower house MPs.

Jason Clare says there is also a difference between the two major party’s housing policies:

Big difference here. That is a targeted of 10,000 spots for people on low incomes that will help them to own a home rather than renting for the rest of their life. The difference with what Scott Morrison is talking about here, think about this: you have two young couples off to an auction, both come armed with their superannuation and their superannuation supercharges the bidding war. The price goes up and up.

The only winner at the end of the day in that auction is the person selling the home who gets a bigger price. The person that wins the auction and buys the home ends up paying a higher price, they end up having a bigger mortgage and they have got less money left in their superannuation account at the end of the day.


Labor campaign spokesperson Jason Clare has a new line.

He told ABC TV:

The next week is really important. Australians have a big choice to make this weekend. It is a choice between a better future under Labor and more Scott Morrison.

As Australians think about this, they would be thinking “Do you want to wake up on Sunday morning and roll over and see Scott Morrison?”

I don’t think Australians want that to happen.

Last week Scott Morrison said he would change, things would be better, they would be different. Most Australians when they heard that, I think shook their head and realised this bloke is not telling them the truth. I had had someone at prepoll on the weekend say to me that just reminded them of a bad ex-boyfriend who promised to be different next time.

Australians can see through the lies and see through the spin of Scott Morrison and I think a lot of Australians will form the view over the next few days and on Saturday, that it is time to fire the liar.

Labor MP Jason Clare.
Labor MP Jason Clare. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Meanwhile, the corflute wars are ongoing.

There is a reason “what is a corflute” is one of the top Google searches this campaign.


Paul Karp has already fact-checked the Coalition’s super scheme for first homebuyers:


Scott Morrison is on the Nine Network now. He is not asked about Jane Hume’s admission the super policy will increased house prices, but he is asked about his sudden urge to change and whether it was sparked by the polls:

No, what I’m simply saying is this the is throughout the course of this campaign I’ve made a number of points.

The first one is that this election is a choice. I’ve said it is a choice about who is best able to run a strong economy. We’ve seen Anthony Albanese, he’s a loose unit on the economy – I think people know that – but then I’m saying this, it’s not just about avoiding the risk of Labor and an inexperienced Labor leader when it comes to the economy, and indeed on national security, it’s about seizing the opportunities. We’ve been setting up for these opportunities. Next Saturday this is not just a reason to vote against Labor and avoid those risks against Labor and avoid those risks – there’s a very good reason to vote Liberal and National because we can seize the opportunities that you’ve been working for, that we’ve been working together for.

... This can be a great period for Australia but under the wrong leadership without the experienced economic management and national security strength, well, it could go the other way. That’s why this choice is so important.

Q: Very quickly, do you have one more miracle in you?


I’ve never stop believing. I never stop believing in Australians and I never stop believing in our future.

Prime minister Scott Morrison at the Liberal party campaign launch on Sunday.
Prime minister Scott Morrison at the Liberal party campaign launch on Sunday. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Murph is listening to Scott Morrison on ABC radio AM, where the prime minister is trying to move around Jane Hume’s admission the super dip in policy will see house prices increase “in the short term”.


Scott Morrison has continued his “I know I need to change” tour, which has grabbed him headlines since his admission on Friday.

Here he was on the Seven network:

I’m just being honest with people, it’s required a lot of strength to take Australia through [the pandemic] and we are continuing to [need] that strength but what will change in the next few years is opportunities will [increase], there will still be this challenges and threats will be there and I know how to handle those, but also to realise those opportunities will require that strong economy.

But it looks like he just made the change after seeing he was dropping in the polls?


I don’t agree with that, we go into this next phase and we will find an extra gear, we have the extra gear and we know how to hit it and have been preparing for it.


Jane Hume was also asked about Morrison 2.0, after Scott Morrison also reverse ferreted on his own leadership late last week, admitting he needed to change his leadership style:

We needed a leader that we could look to, for certainty, for stability, for security, and that’s exactly what he’s given us.

And in fact, now on the other side of this pandemic, we’re looking at unemployment rates of only around 4% and looking down growth rates that are the envy of the advanced economy, vaccination, vaccination rates higher than most other nations. You know, we’re actually in an extraordinarily good position.

But now as he said, it’s time for gear change.

And he wants to demonstrate to the Australian people that he is listening, that he that he is listening to their concerns.

And frankly, this housing policy is a really good example of a prime minister that is listening to the concerns of Australians.

The prime minister also said he was “listening” when it came to what women were saying in March 2021. You can judge how that went.


Coalition minister admits 'bump' in house prices from super policy 'in the short term'

Liberal MP and superannuation minister Jane Hume has been sent out to sell the dip into super housing policy this morning and defend how Coalition MPs from John Howard to Mathias Cormann to Malcolm Turnbull to Anne Ruston and Peter Dutton have previously argued allowing people to access their super for a housing deposit was junk policy.

Asked about Turnbull specifically on ABC radio RN Breakfast, Hume plays the wealth card:

Why is it always people that own their own house – that actually own pretty big houses – that object to people, to young people who are getting an opportunity to get their first step?

... They’re allowed to have their opinions but why not help people that want to get on the housing ladder for the first time? Just this morning? I was out here in the ABC studios. I was talking to a couple of young people that work here that think this is a fantastic policy. Because they’ve already been saving for their houses for years and years, and this will help them just get across the line to help them make that decision.

Liberal senator Jane Hume.
Liberal senator Jane Hume. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Hume also admits that yes, housing prices will increase, at least in the short term:

I would imagine that there would be a lot of people that bring forward their decision to buy a house. So I would imagine in the short term, you might see a bump in house prices. But that doesn’t play out the long-term benefits of more home ownership, fewer people relying on rent.

Asked if she was comfortable with driving up house prices even further, Hume says:

I’m very comfortable with having more Australians owning their own home sooner, having the financial certainty and security of owning their own home.

Hume was asked if the government had done modelling on how the policy will impact the housing market and know by how much it will drive up prices:

Well, we know that people will probably bring forward some of their decisions to buy a house earlier.

... And for that reason it will probably push housing prices up temporarily but the long-term effects ... of the housing market ... of having more people in the housing market ...

But does she know by how much?

You know that there are too many factors that play into the prices of housing temporarily and permanently. We know that interest rates play a big effect, housing supply plays an enormous effect and that’s why it’s important to play all ends, the demand side as well as the supply side and then interest rates on top of that.

What we know is that there are thousands and thousands of Australians out there that can’t get into their first home, not because they’re not credit worthy, not because they don’t have good incomes, not because they don’t have good jobs, because they can’t put together a deposit. This is how they access their own savings. Not the superfund savings, not the government’s, they access their own savings to get into the housing market for the first time.


You’ll hear a lot this week about “soft” voters and the polls being softer than they appear.

What does that mean? It means people can change their mind. They may have told pollsters they intend on voting one way, but they aren’t set on it. So this week matters to both campaigns.


Good morning

We’ve made it to the final week.

The “new” Scott Morrison has set up a housing battle in the dying days of the campaign, reverse ferreting on allowing people access to their super to help with their housing deposit, something numerous Coalition MPs had argued was bad policy (which it is) for years.

It was only two short weeks ago Morrison was warning Labor’s shared equity policy – a scheme open to just 10,000 first home owners – would drive up prices. Now allowing every one up to $50,000 from their super is apparently fine. Economists have already argued it is not, and will increase house prices, but Morrison has his fight for the final week.

Morrison 2.0 (he is a changed man as of Friday) will spend the final five days of this campaign attempting to win back anyone who may be nervously thinking of parking their vote elsewhere because of their personal dislike of him.

Jane Hume was the Coalition spokesperson this morning, and she was prepared with the lines. Asked how going to Hawaii during the bushfires was “fixing things”, Hume said:

I think that everybody knows that he has apologised for that, he said he shouldn’t have done that. But the global pandemic was a real – that’s the test of a man, and he has stepped up and been a leader at a time when we needed him most, when there was incredible financial uncertainty, incredible uncertainty around our health, and our outcomes speak for themselves.

Labor is in Western Australia, with Anthony Albanese working to shore up as many seats out west as possible as he continues trying to find Labor’s pathway to a win.

But concern progressive independents could split the vote, particularly in places like the ACT continues, as Murph reports:

We’ll bring you the blow by blow of the day. Paul Karp is travelling with Morrison, while Josh Butler is with Albanese, with Murph, Sarah Martin and Daniel Hurst making sense of what is happening from Canberra.

You have Amy Remeikis on the blog for most of the day.