Scott Morrison is returning to the well that delivered him government three years ago, in the hope it can salvage his political fortunes.
The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader were both barnstorming battleground seats that weeks ago both had expected to win but can now no longer comfortably rely on.
For Scott Morrison, that meant a trip to the only South Australian seat in play.
Boothby has long been a Labor dream, often talking up its chances despite having not held it for 80 years.
That was especially the case last election, becoming one of the most visited seats by Morrison and then Labor leader Bill Shorten.
Labor’s hopes weren’t to be realised and in the wash-up its controversial franking credits policy was blamed as the reason why.
Boothby stretches from the coastal suburb of Glenelg to southern Adelaide Hills suburbs, bookended by populations of affluent retirees.
For these voters, Labor’s franking credits policy was toxic in 2019.
That policy has long since been dumped but Morrison appears very keen to tap back into 2019 fears retirees would worse off under a Labor government.
So it was back to Boothby and a retirement home to stoke those fears, hoping he could win back older voters that might have changed their tune on his government.
The Coalition announced it would maintain a freeze on deeming rates, a rate set by the government to work out how much earnings retirees can receive from their financial assets. Essentially, he was saying to 900,000 people that their pensions won’t be affected by the RBA raising interest rates.
The rate hike and the additional pressure it will put on living costs to millions of Australians has come at an awful time for the Coalition as it seeks its fourth term in power.
So standing here in the retirement home, Morrison was trying to turn the RBA’s decision from a political liability into an attack, taking a swipe at the banks in the process — demanding they raise interest rates on savings.
“Self-funded retirees have been doing things tough,” Morrison said.
“My message to the banks is to give them a fair go.”
The economic uncertainty Australians now face thanks to soaring inflation has also given the Prime Minister the chance to stoke the fears people might have about what’s around the corner.
“The question for the Australian people is, do you want to drop the shield of strong economic management that our government has put in place that has protected Australians, Australian businesses, Australian retirees and pensioners through the pandemic and hand it over to Labor and the Greens and a cavalcade of independents?” he said.
Labor pounces on Morrison’s words
The trouble for Morrison is Labor has seized on his own words in its political attack.
In November last year, long before the war in Ukraine and the RBA’s rate raise, he offered a prophecy of what Labor would mean for Australians’ living costs.
“Otherwise, you’re going to see petrol prices go up,” he said at the prospect of a change of government.
“You’re going to see electricity prices go up. You’re going to see interest rates go up more than they would need to, otherwise.”
Labor hasn’t let it go unnoticed that one by one, each has gone up under Morrison’s Coalition government.
The opposition is increasingly confident, and the Coalition increasing pessimistic, about its fortunes in Boothby.
But it’s the opposite back in Victoria, where political sandbagging appears to have helped the Liberals’ fortunes in Chisholm.
Labor agrees it’s far tighter than it was weeks ago when many expected it a solid gain for the ALP.
Albanese took to Chisholm today, a move campaigner insiders dubbed as a sign of the work that needs to be done there to win voters over.
Joining him for the first time this campaign was frontbencher and former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.
For more than a week there’s been lingering questions about why Labor’s campaign hasn’t elevated Plibersek to the national level, despite having some of the best name ID in the party.
When asked if she’d been benched, Plibersek laughed it off, insisting that in all her marginal seat campaigning, no one on the street asked about why she hasn’t been featured Labor’s national campaign to date.
But her colleagues certainly have been wondering, privately, and have taken a sigh of relief at seeing her back.
Dog day afternoon
They say in politics, if you need a friend get a dog.
Scott Morrison might have taken that a little too literally while in Adelaide, stopping to pat a pup in front of the cameras.
But back in Canberra, there were no dogs needed, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his Labor equivalent Jim Chalmers insisting they actually like each other … even if the constant slagging they do of each other doesn’t make that appear so.
Their debate at the National Press Club heard why investment in dog parks can be both a rort and of value (investing in marginal seats you want to win — bad, investing in areas that need it — good) and, much like we’ve heard in recent weeks, how each would tackle inflation, ease cost of living and repair the budget bottom line.
So it’s official: The campaign’s gone to the dogs.
Older Australians’ pension payments will be unaffected by yesterday’s RBA interest rate rise.
Soon after the Coalition announced it would maintain a freeze on deeming rates for another two years, Labor vowed it would adopt the measure if it is elected on May 21.
It was the worst kept secret in town. But most Australians with a mortgage woke to news that their repayments were officially becoming more expensive with their banks passing on the RBA rate hike.
There’s worse news to come with analysts expecting another rate rise as early as June.
What to watch out for tomorrow
Another day, another debate. Defence Minster Peter Dutton and his Labor counterpart Brendan O’Connor will battle it out at the National Press Club at 12:30pm.
Anthony Albanese will also take part in a Q&A special at 8:30pm on ABC TV.
Catch up on today’s stories