Biggest poll predicts Labor majority

The largest poll of the election campaign shows Labor on track for majority government, while undecided voters have backed Anthony Albanese as the winner of the third leaders’ debate.

What we know:

  • A special YouGov MRP poll of almost 19,000 voters indicates Labor will secure 80 seats in Parliament, the Coalition 63 seats, The Greens one, while independents will win seven (The Australian $); 
  • The prediction will see Labor taking an estimated 12 seats, giving it a majority of five, and teal independents winning two additional seats (The Poll Bludger); 
  • The poll uses demographic modelling to project results for each electorate — a method that predicted the UK’s hung parliament result in 2017, but underestimated the size of the Conservative victory in the 2019 UK election (The Poll Bludger); 
  • It comes as 50% of a pool of undecided voters declared Albanese the winner of the third debate, compared to 34% for Morrison and 16% remaining on the fence (7News); 
  • Channel 7 screened the game show-style format at 9.10pm AEST after Big Brother   (news.com.au); 
  • Morrison confirmed during the debate that education minister Alan Tudge, who was stood down over allegations of abuse, would return to the role and cabinet if the Coalition was re-elected (ABC); 
  • In a more civil event than the fiery second debate, the final question saw the two leaders asked to say something nice about each other;
  • Morrison responded by praising Albanese’s rise from humble beginnings, but added that he wasn’t across the detail needed to lead the country, while Albanese complimented Morrison’s support of mental health — without throwing in any criticism.
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PM’s office buries crisis on reef

A report the federal government attempted to bury until after the election reveals that bleaching occurred across 90% of the Great Barrier Reef this summer.

What we know:

  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s annual snapshot detailed how the 2021-22 summer led to a mass bleaching event of coral — the first ever recorded under La Niña conditions (ABC); 
  • “This was a La Niña year, normally characterised by more cloud cover and rain. It should have been a welcome reprieve for our reef to help it recover,” the Australian Marine Conservation Society's Lissa Schindler said;
  • The report was quietly released on Tuesday night, after the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had reportedly asked for it to be held until after the election (SMH); 
  • Experts accused the department and agencies of failing to act in the public interest in order to protect the Coalition from criticism of its climate policies;
  • Analysis by Climate Analytics finds that the climate policies of both the Coalition and Labor would leave the reef dead, with only the Greens and teal independents setting sufficient emissions targets.
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Liberal MP confuses opposition

Liberal MP Fiona Martin is facing a pair of scandals, confusing her Labor challenger with another Asian-Australian woman and being accused of selectively quoting a mental health advocate.

In an election debate on 2GB, the member for the marginal Western Sydney seat of Reid engaged in a debate with her Labor opponent Sally Sitou (SBS). 

Martin claimed Sitou was only running in Reid because she had been “kicked out” of Fowler by Kristina Keneally.

But Keneally was parachuted into the seat of Fowler over Vietnamese-Australian lawyer Tu Le, which sparked media controversy at the time.

Martin has denied she confused Sitou with someone else, claiming she “was referring to media reports that Ms Sitou was in the running for the state seat of Cabramatta in 2018”.

It comes as former Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry, a mental health advocate, asked Martin to take down a digital ad in which excerpts from a private email he had sent were featured (ABC). 

McGorry said the quotes were selectively taken from his email, that he did not consent to it being published, and the ad could compromise his advocacy work.

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Victoria set to ban swastika

Victoria is set to become the first Australian state or territory to officially ban the public display of the Nazi symbol, with new legislation introduced into Parliament on Wednesday.

Under the proposal, people who intentionally display swastikas will face penalties of more than $20,000 or 12 months’ jail (The New Daily). 

The Summary Offences Amendment Act (Nazi Symbol Protection) Bill is expected to pass both houses with bi-partisan support.

It will only apply to the Nazi swastika, while religious versions of the symbol tied to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths will remain legal.

There also will be exemptions for historical, educational and artistic purposes, while memorabilia bearing the symbol can still be traded as long as it is covered when on public display.

The laws could also be expanded to other Nazi and hate symbols, such as the SS bolts.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said Victoria is facing a Nazi swastika “epidemic” orchestrated by the neo-Nazi movement.

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Ukraine blocks Russian gas to EU

Ukraine has suspended the flow of some Russian gas to Europe, blaming Moscow for diverting supplies from the country’s pipelines.

Until the intervention, Russian gas had continued to flow uninterrupted through pipelines across Ukraine during the conflict (CNN). 

The Ukrainian gas transmission system operator said it had decided to suspend operations at a major transit point because of “interference by the occupying forces”.

The operator added that Russian interference, including the unauthorised diversion of gas, had “endangered the stability and safety” of the system.

The Sokhranivka measuring station handles about a third of the Russian gas that flows via Ukraine to Europe.

Russia’s state gas company, Gazprom, said there was no reason for the disruption.

Europe heavily relies on Russian gas, which accounted for about 45% of the EU’s total gas imports last year.

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Children face incredible levels of debt that the government won’t pay off for decades to come. WA is the only state that’s posted a surplus over the past year, driven by mining ... will you both categorically rule out a carbon or mining tax to reduce that

Decades from now, as they huddle in bunkers to hide from the perpetual firestorms outside, the children will no doubt be grateful that WA journalist Lanai Scarr used her platform at last night’s leaders debate to shield them from the ravages of a carbon tax (ABC).

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Postscript: Mount Gambier magistrate finds it ‘extraordinary’ that couple had sex during police car pursuit

With all tyres punctured and travelling at around 50 kilometres per hour, police witnessed the vehicle’s female passenger climb over and straddle the driver. Blocking the driver's view, the female began moving in an up-and-down motion, appearing to engage in sexual intercourse (ABC).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.