Malcom Turnbull was at his opportunistic best in Melbourne on Sunday. As hordes of CFA volunteers descended on the Victorian Parliament to rally against greater union influence over the CFA, the Prime Minister saw an opportunity and wholeheartedly grasped it.
Addressing the rally, Turnbull pledged his support for the CFA while highlighting the issue as an example of union sway in the Labor Party.
Despite the issue being largely a state matter, federal Labor is said to be fretting about the potential electoral damage in rural seats such as McEwen and Corangamite.
This morning’s resignation of Victoria’s Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett is sure to keep the issue in the headlines.
Major flooding and weather events in Tasmania and New South Wales diverted the attention of both leaders this week, as campaign hostilities were briefly put to one side.
Touring the affected regions, both Turnbull and Shorten pledged their support for those affected by the heavy rain and flooding, with the Governmnent committing to funding assistance grants and a large portion of the clean-up bill.
Whether it was the events of the week or the cumulative grind of a long campaign, the Prime Minister appeared decidedly flat on the ABC’s 7.30 on Wednesday night.
The lethargic performance was certainly in stark contrast to the energy with which he announced the election some five weeks ago.
Turnbull opted for the 7.30 interview over another leader’s debate scheduled in Brisbane at the same time. Debate host Sky News were furious at the PM’s absence, however it didn’t stop Bill Shorten from fronting up and the debate becoming a one-man People’s Forum.
Labor and the economy
The Labor Leader and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen have been proactive in putting forward Labor’s economic policies – setting the agenda on issues such negative gearing and multinational tax avoidance.
However, Labor may be biting off more than it can chew by releasing a 10-year economic plan that will see the budget deficit increase in the short term.
Coupled with today’s unveiling of major spending cuts, Labor is hoping that transparency and tough decisions will bolster its economic credentials.
Coalition strategists will welcome Labor’s decision to put the economy front and centre, with talk of increased deficits likely to further fuel scare campaigns run by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.