Thirty days down, 11 to go.
Just as the Coalition seemed to have nearly put the Katherine Deves issue to bed, insisting she’d apologised and moved on, the controversial Warringah candidate popped up to tell Sky News that actually, she didn’t regret or reconsider her views on transgender Australians; and stood by her “mutilated” description.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, who has insisted she had apologised and that her comments were really about trans women in sport, finally had to engage on the substantive issue. Almost immediately, he appeared to claim (wrongly) that young people were undergoing gender reassignment surgery, which is actually not available to people under 18. His press conference, announcing a major infrastructure project in a key electorate, was hijacked yet again by the comments of Deves, who he yet again stood by and refused to condemn.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese found himself in some hot water of his own, pinned down in successive media appearances and forced to commit to a specific number he wanted to see the minimum wage increase – a clarification he had thus far avoided.
The leaders are set to square-off again in Sydney on Wednesday, in the final election debate.
Where the leaders were
The leaders had near-identical days, and both kept their eyes firmly on Sydney. Albanese began the day in Melbourne, making a $2.2bn commitment to the 90 kilometre Suburban Rail Loop, to “link every major rail line” in Victoria.
Both ended the day in Sydney.
Today’s big stories
Tudge-y subject: Exiled cabinet minister Alan Tudge has been found! After weeks avoiding media questions on the campaign (and inspiring ‘Where’s Wally?’ memes), he said he is willing to return to the frontbench if the Coalition wins the election, while also claiming he is “unaware” of the reasons his former staffer Rachelle Miller is getting a taxpayer-funded payout of more than half a million dollars. “I’ve been very busy in my local electorate here,” he told Sky News.
Housing: Standing alongside Morrison in Bennelong, NSW premier Perrottet left open the prospect of supporting federal Labor’s home equity scheme, saying he is open to “new ways of thinking” on housing affordability. Publicly contradicting the federal Coalition’s opposition to the policy, Perrottet told media it was “important that we’re open-minded” to ideas about addressing housing problems.
Maths lesson: Labor has had to clarify the details around Monday’s big-ticket teacher announcement, after the Coalition claimed Albanese “cannot count”. Outlined as part of a $146m policy for 5,000 students to get up to $12,000 a year in a bursary, the Daily Telegraph noted the bursaries only had $50m put aside – and quoted finance minister Simon Birmingham claiming the maths didn’t add up. News Corp reported the policy actually only gave 1,000 new scholarships each year, starting in 2023. Albanese, responding to the story, said his costings over the four-year forward estimates period “are completely accurate”, noting “this is two-year and four-year degrees. We’ve said 1,000 places a year. Not all of those are within the forward estimates.”
Wages: Albanese has endorsed a minimum wage rise of at least 5.1% to keep up with inflation. After talking up wage rises and cost of living issues in the election, but recently finally admitting he can’t guarantee the pay packets of Australians would go up under Labor, Albanese said on Tuesday he didn’t want to see people go “backwards” due to inflation rising. He stopped short of backing an Australian Council of Trade Unions call for a 5.5% increase.
Quote of the day
I’m not a surgeon.
– the answer given by Morrison, twice, when asked (twice) what was the “correct terminology” to refer to someone undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
By the numbers: 5.1
The percentage increase to the minimum wage that Albanese said he “absolutely” supported, to match the inflation rate. The ACTU wants 5.5%. The Coalition is already tearing into Labor for what it calls an “unprecedented” intervention into the Fair Work Commission’s deliberations on the minimum wage. Expect this to factor into Morrison’s economic attacks in coming days.
The big picture
Ah, the magic of democracy – rocking up to a polling booth, obtaining a well-earned sausage or treat from the cake stall, and having to run the gauntlet of dodging a labyrinth of A-frame signs and being greeted by the very candidates vying for your vote. Labor MP Anika Wells and Liberal member Trevor Evans were both jockeying for support at this polling booth, trying to lock in as many last-minute votes as possible.
Watch: election tips
Betting markets are already running hot with election wagers, but a big tip of another kind was made on Tuesday – Goliath the crocodile, the massive saltwater citizen of the Cairns Zoo, picked Coalition stalwart Warren Entsch to hold his seat of Leichhardt.