7am is a daily news podcast brought to you by the publishers of The Saturday Paper and The Monthly.
How to listen? Submit Newsletter signup Submit Website Submit

7am Podcast

It’s all come down to this. On Saturday night, Australia will decide it’s next government and next Prime Minister.

The Vote Panel: Could Scott Morrison win again?

Read Transcript

It’s all come down to this. On Saturday night, Australia will decide it’s next government and next Prime Minister.

The final week of the campaign saw Scott Morrison, who is trying not to be a bulldozer, bulldoze a child during a media appearance at youth soccer training in Tasmania.

And Labor released the costings on its policies, just two days out from the election.

The party says it’s policies will only cost 7.4 billion dollars more than the Coalition’s, a figure that pales in comparison to the overall 220 billion dollar deficit.

Today, to analyse all the latest events, we’re joined by chief political correspondent for The Saturday Paper, Karen Middleton, election analyst from The Tally Room, Ben Raue and columnist for The Saturday Paper, Paul Bongiorno.

 

Read Transcript

[Theme Music Starts]

 

RUBY:
From Schwartz Media and 7am, I’m Ruby Jones and this is The Vote.

 

It’s all come down to this. On Saturday night, Australia will decide its next government and next Prime Minister.

Archival Tape -- Jim Chalmers:
“We always thought that this election would be incredibly tight, incredibly close.” 

RUBY:
The final week of the campaign saw Scott Morrison, who is trying not to be a bulldozer, bulldoze a child during a media appearance at youth soccer training in Tasmania.

Archival Tape -- 9 News Anchor:
“Scott Morrison crashed tackling a young boy as a rough election campaign charges into the final stretch.” 

 

RUBY:
And Labor released the costings on its policies…just two days out from the election.

The party says it’s policies will only cost 7.4 billion dollars more than the Coalition’s, a figure that pales in comparison to the overall 220 billion dollar deficit.

Archival Tape -- Anthony Albanese:
“With every single policy we've released, how much it would cost over the forward estimates as we've gone on. Every day I have stood up and in the media releases there has been costings.” 

RUBY:
Today, to analyse all the latest events, we’re joined by:

 

Chief political correspondent for The Saturday Paper, Karen Middleton

 

Election analyst from The Tally Room, Ben Raue

 

And columnist for The Saturday Paper, Paul Bongiorno.

 

It’s Friday May 20. 

[Theme Music Ends]

RUBY:
Paul Bongiorno. Welcome back. How are you today?

PAUL:
Hi there. Good. Bit apprehensive, but, you know. Fine.

RUBY:
And Ben. Hello. How are you? 

BEN:
I'm good. I'm pretty much ready for it. Well, maybe not ready for it to be over, but if it could be 6:00 on Saturday night, that'd be nice.

RUBY:
It's not long. And Karen, you are joining us fresh off the Morrison campaign bus. 

KAREN:
I wouldn't call it fresh and I'm definitely ready for it to be over. Definitely. 

RUBY:
Okay, great. So let's start by talking about the costings poll. The Coalition has been hammering Labor for how late their costings have been released and as we speak that they're still not out, but we're expecting them any minute now. There really hasn't been enough time for voters to get an accurate picture of how Labor plans to fund its policies. That's what the Coalition's saying. So I wonder what your thoughts are on this. Should Labor have been more transparent and released them in time for voters to really be able to weigh up what they were getting?

PAUL:
Well, look, I honestly don't think that voters weighing up what they were getting in terms of budget bottom lines will be all that relevant. You know, the way people vote this time. What you have to keep in mind is that according to the government's own budget, we're heading to a $220 billion deficit over the forward estimates and a gross debt of $1,000,000,000,000. So even if the leaks that we were getting in the run up to Thursday, that Labor would be a couple of billion more in debt than the government per year, that is about 10 billion over the forward estimates. You've got to say what is 10 billion in 240 billion? And by the way, where's the money coming from? Well, Labor's money is coming from exactly the same place that Morrison's money is coming from and that is borrowings. They're both in debt and they're both borrowing. I think that the rats and mice of this argument are really irrelevant, but it's got to be seen in the broader political sense. 

RUBY:
And what are your thoughts on this, Karen? Do do. The costings pale under the shadow of the level of government debt that roll operating in now?

KAREN:
Well, I wouldn't use the same language as Paul. I don't think it is irrelevant. I think costings are always important and I think we we want to know as much as we possibly can about how much debt there'll be and how the parties propose to repay it. And we're unlikely to know that from the fine detail of the Labor costings either. So I do think it's important that we know and we should know as far in advance as possible. But Labor's right when it says there is a precedent for doing it this late in the piece. We all get frustrated. They don't really care and they certainly bought themselves a bit of an argument around the costings with an already pretty agitated press pack because they were going to send the press pack to Canberra to go to the costings news conference while the leader of the Labor Party went to Brisbane. There was a bit of a revolt over that plan and that was reversed. So I think the press pack, whose job it is to follow the leader, not go where the other place is. The leader decides that they should go. They're now going to be following Anthony Albanese and other people will be covering the costings for them in Canberra. 

RUBY:
Oh, that's fascinating. So journalists decided that that wasn't how it was going to roll?

KAREN:
Well, I think there was quite a bit of pushback from people on that and on the Albanese bus that they were on the Albanese bus and paying for the privilege to be following around Albanese and the Labor Party shouldn't be then deciding to send them somewhere else just because it thinks that it would rather have them go to a press conference in Canberra and learn about the costings. I think they came to their senses and reversed that decision. 

RUBY:
And Ben, just before we move on, I had one last thought on the costings and that's just on the fact that you've told us a few times now about how many people are voting early. I voted early yesterday and the line was huge. I had to wait for about half an hour. And I just wonder, is it really fair for those people who will not get to see the costings at all before they've actually cast their vote?

BEN:
I think for me it comes down to people have the choice about whether they want to cast an early vote and people choose to do it and that means they're making a judgement that they have enough information and they've made a call about how they're going to vote. I think there could be public pressure saying in the same way that if someone decided not to issue costings at all, there could be public pressure saying that we're not going to vote for a party that issues the costings so late that I don't get to say it before I cast a vote. I don't see a lot of evidence for that, even though it is important. But I think generally a lot of people who vote early, I think generally are more likely to have already made up their mind. A lot of people, they have a pretty good sense of how they're going to vote and are locked in and people have the option if they want to wait until Election Day. And, you know, in some ways, I think political parties liked how they used to have the cycle, the rhythm of the election ending right when it does and everyone voting at once. But, you know, they've got to adapt to that. They've got to run their campaign in a way that recognises that a lot of people now vote early, and that's just how it is. 

RUBY:
And Ben, this week we've seen the gap between Labor and the coalition really narrow in the polls. Could you just talk me through what we're seeing? 

BEN:
We've had a couple of polls that have been a little bit narrower; Resolve, which is the pollster for the Herald and The Age, put out a two party preferred that was 51-49 and essential their poll was 48-46, with six undecided, which was a swing of 1% towards the Coalition. So they're not huge swings and they're not in every pollster. We haven't seen a Newspoll for, we haven't seen a Newspoll for about a week. The last Newspoll had them winning by 54%, which was a big landslide. I think we'll see the final Newspoll come out on Friday and you know, that may see a narrowing. We do have a history of polls narrowing as we get towards the end. That's pretty typical. If Labor's on 51% that could mean actually the Coalition's in front. If Labor wins with 51% of the two party preferred vote, I think probably they're on track for government. But it is worth noting that it's not. All the pollsters in Newspoll has been a bit stronger and those two pollsters essential and resolve, have always been a little bit better for the Coalition through the campaign. But there's a range of outcomes. None of the polls are currently predicting the Coalition winning the vote, but close enough that it could happen. But you know, there's also still some people predicting pretty big labour leads. 

KAREN:
It's also interesting to note that the Essential Poll has a slightly different methodology to the others in that it doesn't extrapolate its preference flows based on on previous preference flows. It actually asks the respondents what they second preferences. So what you see in that essential poll is 6% of voters still undecided. That means there's a chunk of the of the vote still up for grabs and that is why you're seeing this frenzy right at the end. That's why it's really unclear which way this election's going to go in terms of majority, minority, at least because there's a chunk of people who haven't made up their minds, whether that number is precisely right or not. There are certainly those people. So we're seeing the leaders, you know, whizzing around the country in the last few days, the last few hours from marginal seats, a marginal seat desperately trying to swing those undecideds in the in their direction.

RUBY:
We'll be back in a moment.

[Advertisement]

Archival Tape -- Scott Morrison:
“I know Australians know that I can be a bit of a bulldozer when it comes to issues and I suspect you guys know that too…”

RUBY:
Karen, we’ve been talking about this narrowing in the polls, with Labor’s vote appearing to be slightly dipping, even though they’re still ahead. So, I’m interested – we’ve seen Scott Morrison say he’s going to change his approach, and do you think he has done that, has he been more effective in the last week or so and that’s why we’ve seen this narrowing in the polls?

KAREN:
As you mentioned, we've seen Scott Morrison come out in the past week and say that he's going to change. Now, you only say that if you're getting feedback that people think you need to change because they're not liking how you are. It's pretty hard to change your characteristics, whatever the characteristics happen to be. So he's been saying that he's been a bit of a bulldozer trying to run a kind of complicated message that it was good to be a bulldozer because you needed a bulldozer during the pandemic, and that he's not saying he won't be a bulldozer anymore. He's just going to show you some other guys other than the bulldozer. So it's a bit of a messed up, kind of a complicated message he's trying to get out there. And the other problem is he's still being a bulldozer. In fact, unfortunately for him, he provided a literal metaphor when he knocked over a kid playing soccer, which is a non-contact sport.

Archival Tape -- Luca (boy who got tackled):
“So we were playing soccer. And I think someone tries to pass it to me and Mr. Morrison. And what happened? He tripped, and he was trying not to fall on top of me. So he tried to fall underneath me.”

KAREN:
So the Prime Minister has got his work cut out for him. So in trying to swing voters who are being influenced by animosity towards him personally, that is a pretty tough thing to do. 

PAUL:
To reinforce the point you're making, Karen, Liberal Party polling that Peter van Onselen had on Ten on Tuesday night showed the lowest support for the Liberal Party amongst women voters ever. So only 38% of Liberal voters are women. And if you combine that with the essential finding that 50% of people don't approve of, Morrison is a pretty big mountain really for the Prime Minister to climb and pull. 

RUBY:
There is also the issue of the housing policy that the Coalition announced, though, allowing people to access their super to put towards a house deposit. And I wonder whether you think that this is actually something that's resonating because the labour housing plan is quite complicated compared to the Coalition policy, which is quite simple. And I wonder if people really do just want to get their hands on their super to be able to buy a house. Is it that simple? Is that plan really resonating? 

PAUL:
Well, look, I think it has a fair chance of resonating, especially the line that Morrison's been running, that it's your money and you should have the right to do with it what you like. The big appeal, of course, to Morrison was that he knew that Labor would mark up and wouldn't like it and would fight him over it and he got a bull's eye on that. So there was contestability in the last week of the election on an issue like this that, you know, may win a few votes for Morrison.

KAREN:
And I think really that, you know, they're selling the idea of this as much as the reality, as Paul says, you know, the reality is not going to be nearly as rosy because a lot of people won't have enough super. And they're also pitching it not not just at the potential first home buyers themselves, but at their parents, because at the moment it's the bank of mum and dad that have to step in. Labor's alternative is a government underwriting that would help ease that burden and the Liberals alternative is to raid the super. And there is a sort of an ideological undercurrent to that too, because they hate particularly industry super funds which, which are union linked. And Mr. Morrison's made that point that, you know, he doesn't like the power that those super funds have. So he's really pushing an idea that is, as Paul says, to try and wedge, you know, create an issue that drives division between the two parties. And, of course, he he pitched on housing and first home buyers in 2019, and it worked very well for him. So he's doing it again.

RUBY:
So we're at the precipice of of Election Day. We're seeing some differences finally in policy. And we're also seeing the race really tighten as we get closer and closer poll, do you think that we're going to see a repeat of what happened in 2019 where everyone, including Labor, for a long time thought that they were going to win, but at the last minute, that's not what happened. 

PAUL:
If we do see a repeat that is that Morrison wins this election, unlike 2019, we won't be shocked to death, you know, we'll just be shocked. Of course, it's possible that that Morrison could win, but I think any hard nosed analysis and based on not only the major published opinion polls, but the polling we're seeing in a seat by seat, but both published and what we're being briefed out of both the Liberal and Labor camp would suggest that the best that Morrison could possibly do would be a minority government, whereas Labor's on track not only for a minority government but possibly a majority government. So if Morrison wins, will I be shocked? No, but I'll be very surprised. 

BEN:
I would also say this time we see the trend. We don't necessarily see it in every pollster, but the polls have varied. And so at the end of the campaign, we'll be able to say this one has done better than that one. Even if the Coalition was to repeat the two party preferred vote they got last time. I think there's a bunch of their kind of traditional heartland seats where they're in real trouble. That will mean that that won't be enough to get a majority again. 

RUBY:
Hmm. And Karen, where will you be on election night? And what early signs are you going to be looking forward to to be able to tell which way this is going to fall?

KAREN:
So many early signs. I'm going to be in Sydney. I will probably watch in my hotel room for a while and then I will go to the Labor event. I honestly, Ruby, there are a swag of seats right through, you know, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria in particular that are going to be fascinating and some that could bring real curve ball results that are not traditionally marginal but have a number of issues in them influencing people's decision making. We could see teal independents come up in numbers, maybe only one or two. There's a whole lot of unknowns and variables in this election, many more actually than usual that make it for those of us who are nerdy and love looking at our elections. A very fascinating one to watch. And I have to say what I can predict with confidence. It's going to be a great story. Whatever this result is, whether it's a majority government in either direction or a minority government and a hung parliament with a bunch of independents. That's a very interesting result and fascinating to untangle and see what it means for democracy.

RUBY:
Well, thank you, all of you, for turning up every single week to talk to me about the campaign. It's been great fun, Karen. Thank you.

KAREN:
Thanks, Ruby. 

RUBY:
And you as well, Paul.

PAUL:
Well, thank you for being here. 

RUBY:
And I guess we'll have, hopefully, one more conversation once we know exactly what's happened over the weekend. But yeah, really appreciate your time as well, Ben.

BEN:
Thanks for having me.

PAUL:
Bye!

[Advertisement]

RUBY:
And One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson has tested positive for COVID-19 days before the federal election.

 

The unvaccinated senator revealed the news while coughing during a radio interview saying “I’m up to shit.”

 

The 67-year-old said she believed she caught the virus while on the campaign trail in Western Australia.

 

**

 

And in NSW, voluntary assisted dying has been made legal.

 

After a 10 hour debate about the legislation ran through Wednesday night and into Thursday, all MP’s were given a conscience vote and the bill passed 23 to 15 votes.

 

NSW is the last state in the country to legalise voluntary assisted dying. 

 

7am is a daily show from The Monthly and The Saturday Paper. It’s produced by Elle Marsh, Kara Jensen-Mackinnon, Anu Hasbold and Alex Gow.

 

Our senior producer is Ruby Schwartz and our technical producer is Atticus Bastow.

 

Research assistance for this episode by Meghan Dansie

 

Brian Campeau mixes the show. Our editor is Scott Mitchell. Erik Jensen is our editor-in-chief. 

 

Original music for The Vote has been composed by Alex Gow.

 

Host

Ruby Jones is an investigative journalist and host of 7am.

Guests

Karen Middleton is The Saturday Paper’s chief political correspondent.

Paul Bongiorno is a columnist for The Saturday Paper and a 30-year veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery.

Ben Raue Election analyst from The Tally Room