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Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten on the campaign trail.

Campaign Countdown: Shorten jets in, Morrison goes barefoot

Seven days of the Federal Election campaign are done and dusted and so far we’ve seen a repeat performance of one of Tony Abbott’s more bizarre feats, a moment Bill Shorten might wish he had over again and both major party leaders taking on a testing pre-Easter travel regime.

In the first of our weekly installments tracking the campaign, we take a look at the who, where, why and what (on earth!) of the opening skirmishes ahead of a May 18 polling day.

On the road again
Prime Minister Scott Morrison started the week in Queensland, then went to Victoria (visiting Corangamite – Australia’s second-most marginal seat – and engaging in some barefoot bowls) before hitting Tasmania on Wednesday and Sydney on Thursday. He briefly crossed paths with Bill Shorten, who started out in Melbourne, swung by Adelaide and then landed in Perth – by our count his 38th visit to WA since 2013 – before a brief visit to Darwin and then the Tiwi Islands. Of course, both of the big guns will be back in our beautiful city for an historic leadership debate on April 29.

The ABC has assembled a really cool little tool tracking the leaders’ movements even before the campaign officially started.

WA spotlight

It was speculated this week that, if elected, Mr Shorten will make WA Senator Patrick Dodson his Indigenous Affairs minister. Mr Dodson would be the first Indigenous person to hold the portfolio.

Also hitting WA this week was Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who announced a renewable energy plan that outlined a $1 billion fund to retrain thermal coal industry workers, 180,000 new jobs nationally and a renewable energy export industry based in the state’s North West.

Everybody’s talking

Mr Morrison this week promised $155 million to fix traffic congestion in Melbourne and a $25 million health package for Tasmania, while Mr Shorten pledged a $250 million package to cut elective surgery wait times for public hospitals and $200 million for blood tests for older Australians and cancer patients.

In an unsurprising development, both parties attacked each other’s economic plans. The PM hit out at Labor’s changes to the tax system, including a possible ‘death tax’. Labor, meanwhile, queried how the Coalition intended to fund its Budget surplus, suggesting it would need to slash spending by $40 billion a year.

Shuffling seats

Today news has broken that independent SA Senator Tim Storer will not be re-contesting his spot in the upper house due to family commitments. We expect news to break shortly that Clive Palmer will nominate for a seat in Queensland and recruit former State of Origin legend Greg Dowling to run for Herbert in Townsville.

The hot seats
Labor’s plans to target key WA marginal seats was pretty neatly outlined by this group photo featuring Bill Shorten and fresh hopefuls James Martin (Hasluck), Hannah Beazley (Swan) and Kim Travers (Pearce) – along with the self-confessed “selfie-challenged” Madeleine King.

Poll position

This week’s Newspoll figures had Labor up 52-48 – a slight uplift in the two-party preferred stakes for the Coalition on previous months. But if those figures were replicated at polling booths on May 18, it would still see government change hands.

Sportsbet has Labor at a near-unbackable $1.18 and the Coalition at $4.75.

 

Head scratcher
If he had his time again, we’d suggest Bill Shorten wouldn’t say publicly that he had “no plans” for new taxes on superannuation, then walk that back a day later by saying that he thought he was being asked about “unannounced changes to super” (Labor, of course, had previously announced there WOULD be tax hikes on super).

Meanwhile, it’s hard to believe that more than four years after then-PM Tony Abbott horrified a nation by biting into a raw onion, another member of the Coalition has repeated the dose:

About next week

It’s been a very negative advertising campaign so far, focused largely on “unpopularity” – Labor zeroing in on Peter Dutton and the Coalition concentrating on Bill Shorten. Thankfully the Easter ad truce is here to give everyone a bit of relief!

Plane sailing

In case anyone is wondering about how our politicians get around the country during campaigns, a total of five taxpayer-funded, Air Force-operated planes are made available – one each for the Coalition and Labor leaders, plus their associated media entourages, and another for the Nationals (the famed “Wombat Trail.”) Thanks to Squiz The Election for the insights.

Social star

Shhhhhh, nobody tell Josh Wilson about that Western Derby result!

 

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