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Federal Election Campaign: Day 32 and 33

Day 32 and 33 of the Federal election campaign and the big ticket item of the past two days was the announcement by the Labor Party that they would put up $10bn to help fund the suburban rail loop in Victoria, which would be the largest federal funding injection in public transport history. For their own part the Coalition had kind-off splashed some money as well with $4bn offered for the East West Link - although it must be said that's now been rejected by two state elections and the Feds have been withholding $3bn in transport infrastructure spending since.

The Coalition had its official campaign launch, with mere days for the day of decision. Many people have noted that the event seemed more like a valedictory rather than an election launch and from what I've seen, it certainly did seem that way, with a mostly empty-hall, no welcome to country, and a speech from the Prime Minister that almost lasted an hour.

Still, there was a policy announcement, namely a $500 million First Home Loan Deposit scheme, so that 10,000 eligible buyers would need only a 5% deposit rather than 20%. Labor was generous enough to let the Coalition have the policy for all of two hours before saying that they would match it. Sadly, this policy is a bit of a brain-fart and as much as I understand Labor's political reasons for matching it, I agree with the comments of housing economic experts - that this will actually put an upward pressure on housing prices which would damage the changes of the 90% who miss out, and, in a declining market, will put the people in mortgage stress.

The Reserve Bank has come out in the political fray with a downgrade in its forecasts for growth, the terms of trade, household consumption and wages over the next two years. This puts a serious dent in the LNP costings, but less so for the ALP whose policies have been more about *not* providing additional tax cuts for high-income earners and ending rent-seeking. Labor has suggested to the Coalition that its tax-cuts (which are for low-income earners) can still be passed on.

In probably one of very few comments on this issue, Labor has promised to reverse the government's cuts to the foreign aid budget with $1.6bn over four years. Keeping in mind of course that foreign aid is carried out for strategic political reasons and, indirectly, as a cheaper (and usually less deadly) form of defense spending.

As usual, there have been the weird shenanigans around the hustings. A Liberal candidate, Allan Green has been found to have a colourful social media history with advocating discrimination against gays and Muslims. He claims that because they were made during his time as a Christian Democratic party candidate, they do not reflect his views.

The Nationals in Tasmania are apparently so desperate that the offered a Pony Club (I'm not making this up, I swear) a donation in return for members handing out How-to-Vote cards. The Pony Club turned down their offer. Equally desperate was Clive Palmer's party advertising to "pay expenses" for volunteers to hand out HTVs. The "expenses" were, of course, below the minimum wage.

Note that will matter to Palmer who has been spotted on holiday in Fiji. Chris Uhlmann made the insightful comment that this is because Palmer's not really campaigning any more - his deal with the LNP means that he'll be in the Senate, and that's what this entire campaign was really about for him.

Still, there was a chuckle-worthy moment when Palmer suggested that Bob Katter was getting on and should retire, to wit Katter responded that he would race Palmer up the parliamentary stairs.

And to finish off this little discussion of weird folk in rural areas, Barnaby Joyce is refusing to rule out an attempt to regain the leadership of the National Party. Between Tony's announcement at the beginning of the campaign, you could have an Abbot/Joyce team back again, just like 2013. Assuming they win their seats of course.

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