FEDERAL ELECTION: Key issues at play

Federal Election.jpg

A battle for believability

With campaigns in full swing, and the added pressure of increasing numbers of people voting early, all sides have been quick to show their hands. While we can expect announcements to continue to trickle in over the next few weeks, the big policies are largely now with the nation for consideration.

With the trust stakes high, the party leaders have been positioned to show a more human side in the last week, to build those emotional connections with voters. While that may build some trust, the ultimate test will be how believable their words and actions really are.

Environment space is getting hot

Adani has become a policy flashpoint for the Coalition and the ALP, as the mining giant seeks to commence operations following a late approval by the Minister for the Environment.

Each party’s stance has become emblematic of their approach to tackling the climate change crisis, which voters have moved to the top of their issues list this election[1]. Both parties are balancing on a thin tightrope as they battle for marginal seats in job-hungry North Queensland and climate-conscious Victoria. This has seen both parties support the Adani project on the one hand, while offering new funding and policies to tackle climate change more broadly on the other.

The Coalition has proposed a $2 billion ‘climate solutions fund’ to stimulate the development of new innovative technologies that will reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. Fearing another ‘axe the carbon tax’ campaign, the ALP has parked any carbon pricing measures and has sought to expand on the Coalition’s own policies, including a proposal to regulate the electricity sector with the national energy guarantee at a higher emissions reduction target.

Win for hip pockets

The hip pockets of Aussies have been a focus for both sides.

The Coalition took the lead, announcing their $158 billion tax package in the 2019-20 Budget, which provides immediate tax relief to low and middle income earners and a tax cut to everyone earning below $200,000 in the outyears.

The ALP has pledged similar tax cuts, promising ‘similar’ or ‘even greater’ cuts than under the Coalition, however they stopped short of extending cuts to high income earners. Labor has also proposed several savings measures in this area, which are essential to paying down on its ambitious spending. These include ending negative gearing for investors purchasing already existing houses from January 2020 and ending cash rebates for excess franking credits.

Double injection for health

Labor is keen to capitalise on its reputation as the better manager of health services, with a stream of new funding to lower out-of-pocket costs and waiting times for Aussies accessing the health system. Their signature policy is a $2.9 billion cancer package, which would provide free scans and consultations with specialists for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

The Coalition’s centrepiece announcement in health was the listing of several new drugs on the PBS for kidney, liver, skin and bladder cancers. The Coalition has also been keen to highlight their mental health package, which will provide $461 million to tackle youth mental health and suicide across the country.

Return to playground politics

The education portfolio is perhaps the most split in terms of the Coalition’s and ALP’s election commitments.

The ALP is offering a series of big-ticket sweeteners to outspend the Coalition at every level of education, including a $14 billion funding package for public schools to be spent in the first three years should it win government.

The Coalition has a mixed bag of policies. It will spend an additional $4.6 billion on non-government and Catholic schools and on a $525 million skills package. It also plans to save $2 billion on freezing the growth of Commonwealth-supported places in universities for two years.

[1] ABC Vote Compass findings, 17 April 2019

About Parker & Partners

Parker & Partners is one of Australia's leading public affairs agencies, operating since 1998. We know the processes and nuances of government, policy-making and media. Please contact us for all your government relations needs at hello@p-p.com.au.

Bridget Jung