The Carnival is nearly Over
When the Prime Minister attends his last major campaign at the National Press Club on Thursday, it will signal that the campaign is almost over. The election advertising blackout starts at noon on that day so we will all be spared the Clive Palmer political onslaught. To a small extent Scott Morrison has managed to dominate this last campaign week. He achieved this through his initiative to help first home buyers get a deposit for a house. This occupied the media for twenty four hours until Labor threw a dead cat onto the table. Bill Shorten, Penny Wong and Mark Dreyfus all raised the question of whether the Prime Minister thought that ‘homosexuals would burn in hell’. The fact that the Labor leadership resorted to the dead cat ploy is a sign that they are concerned by the trends in the polls. This may not be a worry that they will lose the election for the House of Representatives but rather that they will lose control of the Senate and will therefore be unable to get their big reform programme through Parliament. Having diverted the conversation Labor then tried to get it onto another track by focusing on wages. On Wednesday wage figures for the March quarter were released, they showed an annual wage increase of 2.4%, above the rate of inflation of 2%. This means that the majority of workers received a real wage increase, in other words wages grew faster than the cost of living. So the claim that everything is going up except wages is not true. Nevertheless wage growth is weak and Labor used this as a pretext to announce a new set of wage policies. It said that it would intervene in the national minimum wage case to recommend a wage increase higher than the rate of inflation and that it would establish a small claims court that would allow workers to sue for unpaid wages and have their claims settled in a day. Whether this will be enough to turn the election more strongly in Labor’s favour remains to be seen. Things are looking a lot bleaker for a couple of independent candidates. Polls show that Kerryn Phelps is likely to lose the seat of Wentworth to the Liberals Dave Sharma. Voters are over the demise of Malcolm Turnbull and are now worried about the economy: 8,500 Wentworth residents have self-managed super funds and many more own investment properties and are worried about the changes to capital gains tax. In Warringah, the University of Canberra has been running a focus group of undecided voters that includes representatives from all age cohorts. Michelle Grattan reports in ‘The Conversation’ that these undecideds are beginning to swing towards Tony Abbott and away from the independent candidate, Zali Steggall. Comments in the focus group indicate that voters are becoming more concerned about economic management and view Ms Steggall as a two trick pony (climate change and ‘get Tony out’). They are concerned that she doesn’t have views on the wide range of issues that have emerged in this election. On the other hand they see Tony Abbott as a forceful and experienced politician who will get things done for the electorate. One special thing to look for in this election is the fate of Senator Jim Molan. The former major general who is the best informed military and security expert in the Parliament was relegated to the number four position on the NSW Liberals Senate ticket by the Turnbull moderates in the party. There is a strong campaign to get him elected by encouraging electors to vote below the line on the Senate ballot and put him number one. If this campaign is successful it will disrupt Liberal politics in NSW.