Prime minister Scott Morrison has begun a four-day tour of marginal seats in Queensland, kicking off the government’s unofficial election campaign. Speaking today, Morrison will pledge a re-elected Coalition government would create 1.25 million jobs over five years. “You’ll be deciding the economy you and your families – your children and grandchildren – will live in for the next decade. And the consequences will be real,” Morrison’s speech reads. Opposition leader Bill Shorten, meanwhile, has broken with political tradition and declined an open offer to meet media mogul Rupert Murdoch, telling the ABC’s 7.30 “my real conversation is not with the rich and powerful in this country”.
The federal government has officially recognised Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president, joining other nations that have turned against president Nicolas Maduro. The United States, Canada and several Latin American nations have voiced their support for Guaidó, who proclaimed himself interim president in Caracas last week amid widespread demonstrations both for and against Maduro’s administration. Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly since January 5, is a member of the centrist Popular Will party, which opposes Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Opposition parties have disputed the results of the country’s 2018 presidential elections, in which Maduro won a second term.
Tens of thousands of people have marched in Invasion Day protests across the country to mark January 26. A crowd of up to 80,000 people gathered in Melbourne, while up to 50,000 attended a rally in Sydney. Fighting In Resistance Equally representative Ken Canning told the Sydney protest the group was fighting to “stop stealing our children, stop fracking our land, stop all the human rights abuses”, while Grandmothers Against Removals representative Sue-Ellen Tighe spoke against the New South Wales government’s adoption laws. Australian activists in England, meanwhile, hung a banner reading “Abolish Australia Day” from London’s Westminster Bridge.
And former prime minister Tony Abbott has played down the prospect of losing his seat at this year’s election following the launch of independent candidate Zali Steggall’s campaign for Warringah. Steggall, a former Winter Olympic skier turned barrister, said on Saturday that Abbott “has been a handbrake on Australian progress on many fronts but, particularly, effective action on climate change”. Steggall’s campaign for the electorate on Sydney’s northern beaches has already attracted support from several community groups aiming to oust Abbott, as well as left-wing advocacy group GetUp! Abbott told Nine newspapers he has “never taken the seat lightly”, and has fought off “pretty serious challenges over the years”. Liberal Party member and former Clean Energy Finance Corporation chief executive Oliver Yates, meanwhile, will likely announce his independent candidacy this week against federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the Victorian seat of Kooyong.