Debate erupted between the major parties this week over the future of Medicare, with Labor stepping up its claims that the Coalition plans to privatise Australia’s publicly-funded universal healthcare system.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has attempted to frame the election on this issue, describing it as a “referendum on the future of Medicare.” Labor has even wheeled out effervescent former PM Bob Hawke to warn against the alleged privatisation.
ALP strategists believe they have gained significant traction on the issue, so much so that the Liberal Party are now addressing it in their electoral advertising.
The Coalition are of course quite partial to a scare campaign themselves, having run hard at the 2013 election on issues including the carbon tax, mining tax and border protection. The latter issue was again in the headlines this week with the Prime Minister warning of “chaos” on Australia’s borders if Labor returns to government.
This week’s wrap can’t ignore the furore over a Liberal Party advertisement which went viral for the wrong reasons.
The 30 second commercial featuring a tradesman urging voters to “stick with the current mob for a while” was met with ridicule, with many questioning the authenticity of the ‘tradie’ involved.
The #faketradie hashtag blew up on twitter on the assumption the advertisement’s subject was a paid actor. The Liberal Party insisted he was a real tradie and further investigation found him to be a genuine metalworker from suburban Sydney.
Treasurer Scott Morrison also caused a stir this week, with claims he understands the discrimination faced by LGBTQI Australians because his conservative Christian views make him a victim of “hatred and bigotry”.
The Treasurer was responding to a speech by Labor Senator Penny Wong, who argued a plebiscite on gay marriage could stoke homophobia and bigotry in the community.
Morrison’s comments led to the coining of a new term – ‘Scomophobia’ – with little sympathy for the Treasurer’s alleged plight.
With one week to go until Election Day, it’s a poll of a different kind that is attracting attention. UK voters have elected to ‘Leave’ the European Union. A ‘Remain’ vote was the preferred option for Australian business leaders, who cited the obvious advantages of stability and certainty.
The Coalition is already using similar messages in responding to the result as a case for keeping them on the Treasury benches.
The implications of the Leave vote are unclear at this early stage; however Australian markets are likely to experience some fallout in the lead up to polling day next Saturday.