Scott Morrison dodges question on Malcolm Turnbull

Scott Morrison has revealed he is a Game of Thrones fan and didn’t want to miss the last season’s first episode — despite being on the campaign trail.

The Prime Minister watched the show in Melbourne at a special screening with other members of the media, answering questions about his favourite character (no, it’s not Joffrey) and how he became such a big fan of the series.

He said he was hooked from the first episode, after taking a recommendation from his sister-in-law.

“On the first episode, when the White Walkers came out, we were like ‘what on Earth is this? This is insane’. And then we sort of stuck with it and enjoyed it. It’s good fun.” he said.

When asked who his favourite character is, he didn’t mince his words.

“I like Jon Snow,” he said. “I’ve always liked Jon Snow.

“I’d say he’s my favourite character, but I think the dream is that the both of them (Jon Snow and Khaleesi) defeat the army coming over the wall.”

When asked why he liked the “Bastard of the North” so much, Mr Morrison said: “Because he’s cool and he had the coolest dog.”

While lapping up the political intrigue of HBO’s hit show, the PM brushed off a question about the real-life Game of Thrones within his own party last year at a press conference earlier today.

He appeared alongside Liberal MP Michael Sukkar for a campaign stop in Deakin, where he also held a press conference.

When asked about Michael Sukkar’s judgment in voting for Peter Dutton during last year’s leadership spill Mr Morrison said: “That is such a bubble question, I’m just going to leave that one in the bubble.”

Mr Morrison later made his way to the Chisholm campaign launch at Box Hill Golf Club, where he was mobbed by supporters who wanted autographs and selfies.

It was perhaps not surprising there were some subtle digs at the outgoing MP Julia Banks, who quit the Liberal Party and is now campaigning as an independent in the seat of Flinders.

The Liberal Party’s new candidate is Gladys Liu, who the PM described as a “force of nature”.

“I know Gladys will put the people of Chisholm first,” he said.

“Gladys isn’t going to put herself forward in this election for her advancement, for her career; it’s not about Gladys; it’s about the community that she’s lived and breathed and is so passionate for.”

It’s unclear whether Mr Morrison was referring to Ms Banks but Senator Jane Hume added later: “She (Liu) is Liberal through and through, the people of Chisholm deserve a Liberal through and through.”

Ms Liu said she loved Chisholm and was passionate about being the electorate’s representative.

“The reason why I’m a Liberal candidate and I’m a Liberal is because I strongly believe in personal responsibility, I strongly believe in people making contributions, strongly believe in reward for effort,” she said.


Conservative activist group Advance Australia is facing a backlash over a video of their mascot gyrating against a poster of independent candidate for Warringah, Zali Steggall.

The clip was posted to social media on Sunday night by the group, showing the costumed figure Captain GetUp! — named after their left-leaning rivals — rubbing itself against Ms Steggall’s face in a suggestive manner.

It copped a swift rebuke on Twitter and was later removed by the group, which is campaigning against the challenger to former prime minister Tony Abbott in his long-held Sydney seat.

The satirical Captain GetUp! character is a superhero designed to ridicule the activist group, but has been criticised for being confusing, with some offering their support for the character.

A video of the character on Facebook claimed the superhero character wanted to “show you what clever tricks we use behind the scenes as we increase political correctness”. Other posts show the character appearing with his sidekick, “Freddy Foreign Money”.

He wears a cape that reads “proudly supporting Labor, the Greens and your local independent”.

Labor senator Anthony Chisholm told The Australian the character was likely to be ridiculed by voters, who are sympathetic to GetUp!, which campaigns on “serious issues that people are concerned about”.

Troy Bramston from The Australian called the gimmick “one of the dumbest ideas I’ve seen in politics”.

Ms Steggall, who is receiving support from GetUp!, said the “level of sexualisation” in the video was “inappropriate”.

“There is no place for that kind of behaviour in the 21st century,” Ms Steggall told Channel 9. “It is disrespectful, it’s inappropriate.”

She called on Mr Abbott to condemn the behaviour, accusing Advance Australia of being a Liberal Party front.

However, the activist group — run by former Queensland LNP staffer Gerard Benedet — denies it is aligned to any one party or candidate.


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been confronted by a frustrated cancer patient during a campaign stop in Melbourne.

Rob Gibbs, 48, a former Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteer who suffers from chronic myeloid leukaemia, was at a cafe outside Casey Hospital when he spotted the Labor leader.

Mr Gibbs rolled up to the media conference in his wheelchair and patiently waited until the end, before he got the chance to ask Mr Shorten a few questions of his own.

“You’re promising money for cancer,” Mr Gibbs began.

“I’m a CFA volunteer who’s got cancer. I was promised by Mr Andrews, the Labor Premier in 2015, that he would look after me.

“Mr Shorten, how are we supposed to believe your potential government when Mr Andrews has done nothing but make my life hard, and other volunteers with cancer?”

Mr Gibbs continued, saying: “Honestly, Bill, it’s just hard to believe. You’re saying you’re going to help out with cancer, I’ve spent the last four years in and out of hospital that long that my daughter’s worried, is her dad ever going to come home? I have a six-year-old daughter.”

Mr Shorten promised to look into the man’s case.

“Rob I’m going to take some time and have a chat to you after the conference, because I want to understand what has happened,” Mr Shorten said.

“I can’t speak for Mr Andrews, I can pass on your disappointment to him. But I can’t speak for him. But what I can speak for is, I haven’t been prime minister for the last four years. But if I am prime minister, I do want to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.”

True to his word, Mr Shorten did speak to Mr Gibbs afterwards, kneeling beside his wheelchair. Mr Gibbs revealed he had already lost two toes to the cancer.

“He’s done nothing but make my life hard,” he said of Mr Andrews, the Victorian Premier.

“You know what? I’ll chase it up. Rob, I’m not going to give up until we sort it out,” Mr Shorten replied.

“I’m not going to promise you an outcome, I promise you though I’m never going to give up.”

Mr Gibbs said: “Nup, that’s cool. That’s all I expect.

“When my daughter, my six-year-old daughter — she’s asking her mum, ‘Is daddy going to die in hospital?’” Mr Gibbs said.

It demonstrated the anxiety felt by people with cancer, Mr Shorten said, who were often as worried about their family as they are about their condition.

“Mate, I’m really pleased you spoke to me. We’ll swap phone numbers. I’ll give you my direct number,” Mr Shorten said.

“I can’t promise you the outcome but I can promise that you and I won’t give up together. If you haven’t given up yet, I won’t.”

Mr Gibbs replied: “I haven’t given up yet. But you get to the stage where it’s hard.”

Mr Gibbs said he lived in a small town called Cowwarr, about two-and-a-half hours away, but had to travel to Melbourne for treatment, which has so far included four operations on his right foot.

“If it doesn’t improve I’m going to lose my foot up to my knee,” he said.

Speaking after Mr Shorten had left, Mr Gibbs opened up further about his mistrust for politicians.

“Everyone can speak the speak. You know? They talk the talk, but not much happens, unless it’s going to benefit themselves. That goes for all sides of parliament,” he said.

“They originally promised that they’re going to be there to help everyone. But the idea is, let’s get in for a couple of terms, we’ll get a pension out of this and then we can get out.

“Say, hypothetically, the Coalition get rolled. They’re out of parliament, they’re all walking out with massive pensions. The poor battlers out there just look at that and think well, who do you vote for? They’re all as bad as each other.”

Mr Gibbs said he appreciated Mr Shorten’s time but was still unconvinced he would follow through on his plans.

“I still have apprehensions. The Premier promised in 2015 he would look after me. He’s done nothing but make life hard, him and his ministers.”

Mr Gibbs served in the CFA for 12 years, and believes his cancer was related to that work.

He has suffered significant out-of-pocket costs for his cancer treatment — in fact he had just spent another $1500 today.

“The last 12 months, I’m probably $15,000-$20,000 out of pocket,” he said.

He said he hesitated before approaching Mr Shorten, and was “going to let it ride” before thinking “no, I have to say something”.

If Scott Morrison had visited instead, Mr Gibbs would have asked him exactly the same question.

“My six-year-old girl, it’s heartbreaking when she comes to visit me, and she walks out in the hallway and she starts crying. ‘Is dad going to come home ever?’” he said, growing emotional.

“It’s not that hard to work together and make the country a better country. Everyone’s health is so important. We should all be entitled to a decent health system.”

A Victorian government spokesman said: “Firefighters risk their lives to keep us safe and they deserve our total support.

“That’s why the Labor Government backs presumptive legislation so firefighters no longer have to prove the medical link between cancer and firefighting.

“It’s a sad fact that the Liberals have voted against this legislation time and again, and even broke a pair to ensure this change didn’t become law.”


The Australian has obtained a manual produced by the politician’s new party and distributed to prospective candidates, coaching them on how to avoid tricky media questions.

Among the curly queries that Senator Anning offers advice on avoiding is: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

The newspaper also reports that those interested in running for Senator Anning’s party must sign up to his ultranationalist and pro-guns agenda before they can proceed to the final round of vetting.

And while the headline-grabbing Senator wants his candidates to generate plenty of publicity, he wants to avoid “issues” like criminal convictions, controversial past jobs and inflammatory social media posts.

“We want you to get publicity, but we are also mindful of avoiding media traps,” the email to candidates reads.

“If you are being interviewed and are asked a loaded question designed to have no good answer (as a classic example, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”), remember that the best way to respond is usually by challenging the premise of the question (e.g. ‘I never beat my wife in the first place’).

“We need to know ahead of time what issues may arise. These issues may include: past criminal or legal issues; controversial career paths … inflammatory social media comments; anything else that could become an issue.”

RELATED STORY: How Fraser Anning got into parliament with 19 votes

The manual details Senator Anning’s support for an “English-speaking, predominantly Christian” Australia and the “right to firearms”.

The revelations come on the back of a rocky several weeks for the Queenslander, who was condemned for issuing a media release on the day of the Christchurch massacre blaming Muslim immigration for the mass shooting.

It led to Senator Anning being egged by a 17-year-old, who was hit twice by the politician before being tackled to the ground by his supporters and held in a headlock.

The former One Nation Senator, who quit on his first day, defected to Bob Katter’s party and was eventually dumped, was then censured by his Senate colleagues for the Christchurch comments and his refusal to apologise.

Senator Anning’s office has been contacted for comment.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has arrived in the suburb of Croydon North to talk about the $154.5 million for upgrades to Dorset Rd and Canterbury Rd, as part of the Urban Congestion Fund that aims to “get people home safer and sooner” by focusing on localised improvements.

One project is close to the boundary of the electorate of Casey, held on a margin of 4.5 per cent.

That’s where Mr Morrison’s event is being held, with Deakin MP Michael Sukkar and Casey MP Tony Smith tagging along.

Like Mr Sukkar earlier in the day, Mr Smith was pressed on whether last year’s chaotic leadership challenge had hurt the party’s standing in Victoria.

“I’m focused on the future, I’m not going to look through the rearview mirror, we’re looking through the front windscreen,” Mr Smith said.


Also elsewhere in the election campaign, businessman Clive Palmer has fronted the media in Townsville in north Queensland.

The United Australia Party leader has promised to pay “millions of dollars” to the hundreds of workers owed entitlements after his Queensland Nickel refinery went broke three years ago.

Mr Palmer, who hopes to make his return to parliament, also flagged plans to reopen the site.

“Townsville’s certainly been doing it tough and difficult since the floods and we want to look forward and not backwards,” he told reporters this morning.

“For that reason I’ve decided today that we will pay out all outstanding amounts in workers’ entitlements that was owed by Queensland Nickel.”


Mr Morrison began his day campaigning in a Liberal seat held by one of the men who tried to make Peter Dutton leader last year.

It comes as Labor rolls out campaign material reminding Victorian voters of those who played a role in the messy coup that ousted Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Sukkar holds the electorate of Deakin on 6.4 per cent after a redistribution and could face a backlash with locals angry about the leadership challenge.

Mr Sukkar was one of those who ran the numbers for Mr Dutton in his bid to become PM — something the Opposition has seized upon.

Sky News political reporter Kieran Gilbert points out that tailored material is being distributed to “remind voters of those who voted for (Peter) Dutton to be PM”.

Mr Morrison is visiting Daisy’s Garden Supplies — a family run business that employs some 60 people.

He will spruik the Coalition’s $154.5 million investment in “busting congestion”, which is a series of projects in Melbourne’s east.

“Small and family businesses like this … have been actually driving the performance of our economy,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

On Mr Sukkar’s major role in the leadership chaos, Mr Morrison said he was “confident of the good judgment of voters in Deakin”.

He went on to repeat a clunky analogy rolled out on morning radio about champion racehorse Winx being ridden by an AFL player.

“Imagine if Mason Cox had been riding Winx at the weekend,” Mr Morrison said.

He compared the Collingwood giant being picked to ride Winx to Labor’s handling of the economy should it win government, saying only the Coalition had the correct weighting with its plans.

Mr Morrison was also asked whether he agreed with Tony Abbott’s comments that the “so-called science” on climate change had not been settled.

“I believe in the action we are taking on climate change, and that you can take action on climate change without taking out your economy and taking out the jobs of Australians and taking out the cars that Australians want to drive and this is what we’ve done as a government,” Mr Morrison said.

At his campaign launch in Manly on Friday, Mr Abbott told reporters: “The so-called settled science is not quite as settled as people say, and that’s my position.”

Mr Sukkar didn’t seem keen to talk to the press pack but found himself surrounded by cameras and microphones.

“Scott and I have worked very closely together. It’s great having him here,” he said.

When asked how it felt campaigning with Mr Morrison “when you didn’t back him to be PM”, he attempted to deflect by insisting his electorate wanted to see a Coalition government returned.

“Look, we have a choice in the next few weeks. The choice is between Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. It’s very clear to me what my electorate wants and that is Bill Shorten.

“I’m very focused between now and the election on ensuring we have a Morrison government continuing.”

He would not be drawn on repeated questions about whether his support for Mr Dutton had damaged his electoral chances.

Mr Sukkar pushed through the pack, saying: “Thank you. I’ll see you down in Croydon. Thanks guys. Thank you.”


There were encouraging signs for Bill Shorten as he visited a construction site in Melbourne this morning.

Mr Shorten spoke to workers at a Westgate Tunnel site in the electorate of Gellibrand — the safest of safe Labor seats, with a margin of 15 per cent.

He focused on issues like wages, work conditions, penalty rates and cost of living, at one point cracking a joke at the expense of the bald men in the crowd.

“What else in your life is the same price as 2013? Not even your haircut, everything’s gone up. For some of you that’s not a big issue, but I get the point,” he said, drawing laughter.

“The Labor Party thinks you should keep your penalty rates. We want to crack down on dodgy Labor hire. We want to make sure that your enterprise agreements stay in place until replaced by something superior, not something inferior.”

Another quip about the workers’ TV viewing habits fell a bit flatter.

“The reason why you come to work is to earn a good living. It’s about being able to look after your family,” he said.

“I mean, you like catching up on the gossip. You can shake your head at Married At First Sight, or whatever, I don’t understand. But once you’ve got over the initial morning chat, you’re here to earn a good living.”

The reference to Channel 9’s reality TV juggernaut earnt him a few polite chuckles at best.

But one message did seem to really resonate.

“We want to make sure that when you’re in the fight of your life on cancer, you don’t have to worry about who pays the bills,” Mr Shorten said.

“We want to reduce the waiting lists, because you can’t outwait illness. You’ve got to deal with it.

“The most important things in life are your family and your health. If your family’s OK, if your health’s OK, then everything else is a bonus.

“But if someone in your family’s not doing well, if you haven’t got your own health, it doesn’t seem so important if you were at the last shift toolbox meeting or if you wrote out the minutes of the last meeting you were at.”

If you’re the sort of person who follows politics obsessively, it can be frustrating to hear leaders repeat the same lines over and over. Mr Shorten has been speaking endlessly about his health and cancer policies since his Budget reply speech earlier this month.

But this morning’s event showed the value of staying on message. After Mr Shorten’s speech, several workers told they had previously been unaware of Labor’s cancer plan. They said it could sway their vote.

“I didn’t know about the cancer stuff. That was pretty good. Better than the usual promises,” one said.

“He spoke well. I thought it was good. Solid,” said another.

Other voters were less fulsome in their praise, saying only that Mr Shorten had been “pretty good”.

A group of female workers looked on, bemused, as their colleagues posed for selfies with the Labor leader.

Mr Shorten ended his appearance with a plea to the workers to make sure they turned up on Election Day.

“Please don’t waste your vote on May the 18th. Vote Labor at the next election,” he said.


It’s been revealed that the organisation GetUp! has raised $12.5 million in donations in the past year to help it put pressure on political candidates.

The left wing group insists it’s independent but will target a string of Coalition MPs at the election, saying it wants to “remove the hard right”.

Channel 9 reports GetUp! will target 30 electorates in its war against conservative candidates. The government says it’s all “a front for Labor”.

“Australians should only support GetUp! or Bill Shorten if they want to pay more tax and believe that Bill Shorten can spend their money better than they can,” Coalition campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham told Channel 9.

GetUp! is running campaigns against a slew of Coalition figures, including Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Greg Hunt, Christian Porter and Kevin Andrews.


The PM was on 2GB radio this morning taking aim to Labor’s so-called “new taxes”, referring to the Opposition’s plan to scrap franking tax credits for shareholders and scaling back negative gearing.

Breakfast host Alan Jones cited Treasury figures that argue Labor’s plans would “take $387 billion from taxpayers over the next 10 years”.

It ties in with the government’s message that a vote at the election could dictate what happens over the next decade.

“Absolutely, these figures are out there — that includes the $57 billion they’ll take in the retirees tax,” Mr Shorten said.

“It includes the $30 billion in the housing tax. It’s a family business tax of almost $30 billion. Even when you go to put in superannuation, that’s another $30 billion.”

The Prime Minister attacked Labor’s plan to drastically change negative gearing, making it so the tax allowances for property investors would only apply to new dwellings — not existing ones.

He argued that the policy would see rents rise by removing incentives for landlords and reducing housing supply.

“This is an aspiration tax. They’re going to tax people who are working hard and trying to get ahead,” Mr Morrison said.

Although, it’s worth pointing out that the negative gearing policy will be grandfathered — as in, they won’t apply to investors with a property before the changes come in.

Meanwhile, later on 3AW, Mr Morrison again spruiked the government’s economic credentials as a point of difference to Labor’s legacy.

“If you can’t manage money, you can’t run the country,” he said.

Although the PM used a fairly bizarre and mixed sporting analogy by comparing Labor’s plan to enlisting Collingwood star Mason Cox to ride Winx.

“If you had Mason Cox riding Winx the other day, she probably wouldn’t have run as fast,” Mr Morrison said. “She’s a champion but she’s mortal … you’re not going to put a big unit on a horse.”

Voting Labor would be like putting a “big unit” on a racehorse … we think?


Kerryn Phelps, the independent who won Mr Turnbull’s vacated Sydney seat of Wentworth at the resulting by-election, said voters had not forgotten about the damaging instability.

“It’s the same government, the same party that ousted Malcolm Turnbull,” Dr Phelps told Sky News. “That anger persists.”

It’s an anger Labor is hoping to seize on with a campaign it has rolled out reminding voters in Victoria of Liberals who backed Mr Dutton.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party has rolled out a timely meme targeting Mr Shorten’s so-called “higher taxes”.

The highly anticipated new and final season of Game of Thrones kicks off today and the party has taken some inspiration with this social media image.


The first Newspoll conducted since the election was called has delivered good news for the major parties and a dire warning for Pauline Hanson.

Labor has retained its two-party preferred lead over the Coalition of 52 to 48, although both are dead equal on primary votes of 39 per cent each.

That neck-and-neck result is thanks largely to a collapse in support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, in the wake of the gun lobby scandal. Support for the controversial party has slumped to just four per cent, its worst Newspoll result since 2016.

It comes after secret videos recorded by an undercover journalist exposed Senator Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby and One Nation’s Queensland leader Steve Dickson seeking money from the US gun lobby in exchange for political influence.

Senator Hanson was also captured on camera appearing to suggest the Port Arthur massacre was a government conspiracy.

The party shaved two points off its primary result over the past two weeks. It marks a dramatic fall from grace from a peak of 11 per cent of the national primary vote just two years ago.

Should the two-party preferred result be reflected at an election, it would result in the loss of 10 seats for the Government.

However, Mr Morrison still holds an 11-point lead over Mr Shorten in the preferred PM stakes.


Mr Morrison will be in Melbourne today to spruik the Coalition’s $154.5 million investment in “busting congestion”.

It’s been a running theme throughout his campaign so far and Mr Morrison will today announce projects funded in Melbourne’s east, as he looks to shore up vulnerable seats.

Under the package, the following investments will be made:

• $80 million to support the extension of Dorset Road to Lysterfield Road in Ferntree Gully;

• $50 million to provide the missing link on Dorset Road between Hull Road and the Maroondah Highway in Croydon; and

• $24.5 million to construct a city-bound third lane on Canterbury Road between Dorset Road and Liverpool Road in Bayswater.

The Croydon link is located in the electorate of Deakin, a seat held by Michael Sukkar, who despite a 6.4 per cent margin could be in trouble if voters turn against the Liberal Party in a repeat of last year’s state election.

“Victorians don’t have time to sit in traffic — they want to spend more time at home with their families or more time on site earning money,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.



“Our multi-billion dollar investment in Victorian roads is possible because we’re building a stronger economy and getting the budget back in surplus.

“If you can’t manage the economy — you can’t pay for roads like these.”

The Coalition established a $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund in the 2018-19 Budget before quadrupling funding to $4 billion in this year’s Budget.

There are a number of seats in play in Melbourne especially in the city’s east.

These include La Trobe and also Chisholm, which is held by Julia Banks who has quit the Liberal Party and will now contest the seat of Flinders.

Mr Morrison spent the weekend in Sydney and Queensland, dropping in to Randwick to watch Winx’s historic last race and doing street walks in the NSW suburb of Strathfield and at Queensland’s Redcliffe markets.

Both leaders held rallies. The PM’s was in Brisbane, while Mr Shorten addressed supporters in Sydney.

The Labor leader also held a town hall in the regional NSW seat of Woy Woy and visited Sydney’s Easter Show.


Mr Shorten will outline details of Labor’s $250 million investment in slashing public hospital waiting lists.

The spend is part of a $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund and aims to reverse the tide on ballooning elective surgery delays, which have increased by 10 per cent since 2013.

NSW has the lengthiest waiting lists with an average of 55 days and will take the lions share of funding, with $72 million committed to easing delays.

Full breakdown of the waiting list ‘blitz’ spend:

• NSW: $72 million

• VIC: $58 million

• QLD: $45 million

• SA: $16 million

• WA: $23 million

• TAS: $30 million

• NT: $2 million

• ACT: $4 million

Today’s focus continues Labor’s push on health spending and is in addition to the more than $2 billion committed to cancer care.


The Australian has today given some insight into the outlets that Mr Shorten and Mr Morrison are actively avoiding on the campaign trail.

According to the newspaper, the PM is not a fan of ABC’s panel show Q&A and has no intention of breaking his six-year snub of it.

Mr Morrison has also knocked back countless requests to appear on FM breakfast show Kyle and Jackie O — including an on-air plea from shock jock Kyle Sandilands and an offer of $30,000 to the charity of the PM’s choice if he showed up.

“From day dot, we never existed to them,” Sandilands’ manager Bruno Bouchet told the newspaper.

Bouchet went on to warn: “I would counsel him that we are the show with the largest number of swing voters. They’ve pretty well made up their mind at 2GB and the ABC. But if you want to sway things, you do appearances with Kyle and Jack.”

Meanwhile, The Australian also reveals that Mr Shorten is steering clear of 2GB’s ‘big four’ — Jones, Ray Hadley, Chris Smith and Ben Fordham.

Jones told the newspaper that Mr Shorten had a standing invitation to appear, while Hadley’s team has been trying to get an interview for years.

But, as the paper points out, Mr Shorten is fond of appearing on Sandilands’ show, describing the pair as having a “bromance”.

Follow election coverage with our reporters on the ground @charischang2 and @samclench

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