This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning till the end of the election. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
They certainly don't make 'em like they used to. George Reid, Australia's fourth prime minister, was a stout, balding figure as witheringly quick at debating as he would have been leading the charge at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Same result for both, too. The man could make a meal out of anything, or anyone.
One day he was on the hustings when a cheeky voter pointed to his large stomach and asked: "What are you going to call it, George?"
"If it's a boy I'll call it after myself," replied Reid, smiling behind his enormous drooping moustache. "If it's a girl I'll call it Victoria. But if, as I strongly suspect, it's nothing but piss and wind, I'll name it after you."
Modern politicians lacking Reid's rapier wit and self-deprecation rarely meet real people anymore. They prefer the safety of scripted press conferences and staged public gatherings. After yesterday's rate rise by the Reserve Bank most will be setting land speed records by running from any chance encounters with that most rabid crowd of all - Australia's homeowners.
The decision by the RBA to lift its cash rate to 0.35 per cent from its previous record low of 0.1 firmly cemented this federal election campaign in familiar terrain. From now on anything not about the cost of living and housing will take second place. Which is a shame because neither of the major parties appear to have much left to offer voters on the subject, apart from unleashing a barrage of blame on one another.
Still, this is hardly familiar ground for young homeowners who entered the market as rates were plunging. Yesterday's rise was the first in 11 years and the first during a campaign since 2007. With plenty more expected over the next two years this might well become the election the parties say they want to win, but would be more than happy for their opponents to do so given the economic headwinds expected in the coming couple of years.
Scott Morrison spent much of the time before yesterday's announcement telling the nation interest rates had nothing to do with him and that Labor should explain what the government had done wrong when it came to reducing the cost of living. "Do they think we shouldn't have cut the petrol tax by half?" he asked. "Do they think we shouldn't have done JobKeeper? Or shouldn't have had the cashflow boost? Or the instant asset write-off which kept all those businesses in place?"
Labor staged a media conference in the yard of a young woman's rented home on NSW's central coast to push its new home equity share policy. Anthony Albanese and campaign spokesman Jason Clare appeared just as intent on trying out a series of lame zingers. Apparently the government was not interested in legislation but "wedgeisation" while Morrison's claims contained "more baloney than a New York deli."
George Reid would have wiped the floor with this current mob. And he still would have had time for dessert.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Is cost of living the most important issue to you in this campaign and will it affect your vote? Ditto interest rates. And how about lightening things up a little. Anyone got a decent political joke? Send us your views (and favourite political lines and gags): firstname.lastname@example.org
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- The Coalition pledged $146 million over the next four years to attract and retain rural and regional doctors in a bid to fix the growing medical care issues in regional Australia. Under the plan trainee GPs would be given opportunities to work in private practices and local hospitals to boost a skills shortage in areas like emergency medicine and obstetrics.
- Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison will square off in a third leader's debate on the Seven network on Wednesday May 11 - three days after the pair confront one another this Sunday evening on the Nine network.
- Labor has extended its lead over the Coalition in the latest Roy Morgan poll despite a flattening in its primary vote. The poll showed Labor with a 55.5 to 44.5 per cent lead on a two-party preferred basis. After a recent slump The Greens increased their share of the primary vote to 13 per cent. In The Guardian's Essential poll, Labor retained a lead of 49 to 45 per cent, with the Coalition's primary vote dropping to 36 per cent.
THEY SAID IT: "Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man." - Ronald Reagan.
"It's absolutely untrue. People went back for seconds. It was just the way the light bounced off the skin of the chicken." - Scott Morrison, responding to claims he served raw chicken in a curry to his family last weekend after posting photographs of the meal on social media.
YOU SAID IT:
"I used to think compulsory voting was good but I have changed my mind. Only the informed and engaged should exercise this privilege." - Jo-Anne.
"On Sunday in the swinging seat of Braddon in Tasmania election candidates were invited to a forum to tell us their policies. All parties and independents with policies turned up and answered questions. One can only assume Labor and the Liberal party have no policies as they were 'unable to attend'. I find this contemptuous of the people they are constitutionally required to serve. I will definitely be selecting from the 11 impressive minor party and independent candidates who did show up." - Maureen.
"If it is your democratic right to vote surely it follows that it is also your democratic right NOT to vote if you don't believe there is anyone worth your endorsement. But if you don't vote then don't complain about the individual who gets elected." - Ross.
"Other countries go to war for the right to vote, yet our tattooed TikTok and iPad generation can't be bothered to check out their candidate's offerings and the education system fails dismally when it comes to teaching kids how our electoral system works." - Richard.
"We definitively need to change to optional preferential voting. Why should we vote for someone we do not want in Parliament? We should also outlaw how-to-vote cards which say anything more than place a "1" against the candidate of your first choice." - Arthur.
"It would be retrograde to introduce optional preferential federally. Queensland tried it but rejected it. NSW has not yet learned that lesson." - Ian.
"Compulsory voting is obscene in a free country. If you don't want to vote, why be forced to by the self-interest brigade. If you don't vote you accept the administration that receives the most votes. Simple, democratic and fair." - Geoff.
"My mother always wrote the word 'invalid' right across her ballot paper. She could have made an invalid vote in other ways but she always told me she wanted them to know she knew what she was doing and wasn't just a stupid old woman." - Marion.
"Albo, where is the money coming from please? Besides out of my small pockets." - Raymond.
"I would vote early in case I was run over before the election. Sadly there is no pre-poll nearby - we have to drive over an hour to get to one. To all those people who think nobody is worth voting for - you can only fire them at the polling booth. This is our democratic right and a very important right." - Sandra.
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