A new stadium for Townsville
It wouldn’t be an election campaign without some blatant pork-barrelling, and we’ve seen plenty of it over the past 6 weeks. In an otherwise quiet week for the Prime Minister, where he continued to hone his ‘jobs and growth’ message, it was announced that a returned Turnbull Government would match Labor’s pledge to fund a new $100 million stadium in Townsville.
If you believe the PM, the fact that Townsville is in the marginal electorate of Herbert is irrelevant to the project. Instead, this was a ‘City Deal’ that would see agreement between all three levels of government and a “radical departure from the way federal governments have approached cities policy in the past.”
Interestingly, neither party has committed to funding a similar stadium project in Perth, with West Australian Premier Colin Barnett admitting it “probably” came down to his state having less marginal seats in play than Queensland.
He also made a $100 million funding commitment of his own, in the form of a lifeline to South Australian steelmaker Arrium. The announcement shows Labor’s attempts to wrestle back some momentum in South Australia, following the Liberal’s decision on Australia’s next fleet of submarines and the continued appeal of the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT).
But perhaps Shorten’s most telling contribution this week was on the issue of Indigenous affairs – an issue largely overlooked in the campaign to date. Appearing on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Shorten declared his interest in establishing a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
While some have criticised Shorten for overreaching and creating a distraction from the core issue of constitutional recognition, at the very least it put Indigenous affairs in the spotlight.
Another topic to emerge this week – seemingly out of nowhere – came courtesy of maverick MP Bob Katter.
In a startling revelation, the North Queensland MP declared he had “no idea” about the mass shooting that took place in Orlando, Florida – one of the worst to ever occur in the United States.
He justified this statement by claiming he doesn’t read newspapers or watch TV. Katter’s admission came amidst criticism of his new campaign video in which he is shown shooting dead two political rivals with a revolver – released in the days following the Orlando tragedy.
A third, and most likely final, election debate is scheduled for tonight, with the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader set to do battle in a Facebook Live leader’s debate. The online format is new to Australian politics and it will be interesting to see how the public respond.