Campaign catchup 2019: Labor stares down scare campaign on tax | Australia news

In a nutshell

It’s getting to the frenzied point of the campaign where it is hard to keep up, but keep up we will, with just 48 hours of campaigning to go.

Aspiration, perspiration and desperation were the themes of the day, with Scott Morrison directing his energies into making the final few days of the campaign all about Labor’s negative gearing policies, while Bill Shorten tried to keep the focus firmly on wages. As Shorten neatly summed up, this is about hope versus fear.

“It is very interesting and very important on Sunday morning, what choice the Australian people make. Will we have chosen hope over fear?”

What happens in the closing days of any campaign is critical. It can influence the many undecided voters who are just starting to tune in before polling day, particularly those for whom politics is an unwelcome sideshow. In 2016, Labor’s campaign on the threat of Medicare being privatised dominated headlines and Labor’s attack ads, while Turnbull, too, complained about the mounting scare campaign. It was tremendously effective, and saw Labor come within a whisker of forming government. In the most recent New South Wales state election, Labor’s Michael Daley’s campaign was rattled in the final week when video emerged of him suggesting “Asians with PhDs” were taking local jobs.

Morrison is narrowcasting on the economy and housing, attempting to brush away “distractions” by not giving them any oxygen. Even if dodgy modelling is forming part of the story, and vested interests are helping to kick it along, if the Coalition is talking about Labor and taxation it has achieved its goal of keeping the focus on the other side. Dialling up the hyperbole, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, delivered the most alarming line of the day, warning Labor “will tax your aspiration, they will tax your inspiration, they’ll tax your perspiration and make it more difficult for you to get ahead”.

Shorten started the day in Western Australia where up to four Liberal-held seats are in Labor’s sights, and where he announced he wants to hold a business summit if he is elected on Saturday. He also tried his hand at bricklaying in the seat of Pearce (held by the attorney general, Christian Porter, on a 3.6% margin), which Labor would be very happy to have on its side of the ledger come Sunday.

Labor’s campaign focus is on the four Cs – climate, chaos, cuts and Clive, with Shorten using a set piece speech in Perth to warn of more chaos in Canberra if the Coalition is returned to power.

Morrison began the day in northern Tasmania before crossing Bass Strait to give the seat of Corangamite some more love while talking about housing. It was then a quick dash to Wangaratta in Indi, which the Liberals are hoping to bring back to the Coalition fold with the resignation of independent Cathy McGowan, before landing in Sydney on Wednesday afternoon.

Elsewhere on the trail

As the battle of Warringah heats up, Tony Abbott has made the remarkable concession that Labor’s climate change policies are better than the Coalition’s as he suggests Zali Steggall could support Bill Shorten in a minority government. But the bigger fight in Coalition ranks in NSW centres on the growing brawl over a campaign by Liberal conservatives to promote a vote for senator Jim Molan below the line. The NSW division of the Liberal party is absolutely top-shelf when it comes to factional brawls, with the conservative wing known fondly as the Taliban. But in this instance they have started an almighty fight with the Nationals, who accuse the Libs of derailing their own senate campaign and undermining the coalition agreement. The Warringah fire is one to watch – if Abbott is unseated by Steggall, expect the conservatives in the party’s Right faction to go absolutely wild.

The big picture

Bricklaying at a Tafe campus in Perth, Shorten had a “here, hold my tie” moment.

Bill Shorten’s wife, Chloe, moves his tie as he lays a brick during a visit to a Tafe campus in Perth

Bill Shorten’s wife, Chloe, moves his tie as he lays a brick during a visit to a Tafe campus in Perth. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Required reading

Gabrielle Chan has been looking at the rural seats flying under the radar at this election, speaking to country voters who may serve up a surprise come election night.

With Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten finding time to visit WA in the final week of the campaign, here is a summary of the battleground over west where four electorates are in play. Every election brings with it the whiff of pork, and Shane Wright has crunched some numbers showing the spend in marginal seats, with the Victorian seat of Corangamite lavished with the most taxpayer funds, as the Coalition desperately tries to keep the seat in Liberal hands.

Tweet of the day

What was Shorten saying about Clive and chaos? What could possibly go wrong?

Clive Palmer

#australiavotes2019 #auspol #ausvotes19

May 15, 2019

What’s next

Morrison is in Canberra on Thursday to speak at the National Press Club, but will no doubt find time either side of that to visit crucial marginal seats, while Shorten will deliver his final set piece speech in Blacktown in western Sydney, the same venue that Gough Whitlam delivered his “It’s Time” speech in 1972.

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