Protests and personal taunts: Campaign trail goes rogue

Prime Minister Scott Morrison campaigning at a liberal party campaign rally in Sydney, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and former PM John Howard. Picture Gary Ramage

Mr Howard and Scott Morrison joined the who’s who of Liberals at Sydney Olympic Park today, including NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and party president Philip Ruddock.

Mr Morrison used the rally to spruik his party’s track record with stopping asylum seeker boats and managing the economy.

If re-elected the Morrison Government would also prioritise female asylum seekers.

Mr Howard stole the show party faithfuls the Labor leader thought the election campaign would be his “coronation” as Prime Minister.

“He thought all he had to do was turn up,” Mr Howard said.

“But something has happened on the way to polling day … People have started to ask him questions and he is getting very irritated.”

“That was not meant to happen; you can imagine the ear bashing Albo gets.”

Labor went into the election as the strong favourite to form Government after May and remain ahead 52 to 48 in the latest YouGov Galaxy poll taken for News Corp.

Announcing a freeze on refugees if re-elected, Mr Morrison joined the jibes telling Liberal supporters he knows Labor’s policies better than Mr Shorten.

“I know Bill Shorten’s policies better than he does, I think. That is why I don’t think you should vote for them,” he said. “And if he doesn’t understand his policies, then you certainly shouldn’t vote for them.”

SHORTEN’S PITCH TO PARENTS

Meanwhile Mr Shorten has pledged to make childcare more affordable and expand Medicare to cover the dental care of three million pensioners and seniors.

Childcare centres that jack up their fees to gouge families who receive a bigger rebate under Labor’s new $4 billion child care package will be “named and shamed” online.

Bill Shorten also threatened centres with price control as he unveiled the plan today at a Labor rally in Melbourne’s Box Hill in the marginal seat of Chisholm.

While Mr Shorten was giving his speech, a climate change protester stormed the stage.

Mr Shorten brushed off the incident, saying: “If you want action on climate change, don’t protest against Labor — vote the government out.”

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The Labor leader also pledged to give childcare workers a pay rise of 20 per cent or $11,300 on average over the next eight years.

Labor refused to outline the detail of how it would directly fund a wage increase for child care workers or if it would be subsidised by taxpayers.

Labor’s early education spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth would only say that Labor would work with the sector to find the best mechanism to fund the pay rise.

In a separate policy, Mr Shorten also revealed three million pensioners and seniors would get $1000 worth of free dental care every two years under a new Medicare package if Labor was elected.

“Under a Labor government after May 18, if you are a pensioner or a seniors healthcare card holder, your dental care will be free for the rest of your life,” Mr Shorten told the 500-strong crowd.

Mr Shorten and Mr Morrison are set to fly to Perth today where they will meet on Monday night for the leaders debate.

East coasters can watch the debate from 7pm Monday night on Channel 7.

Mr Shorten declared Labor’s $4 billion child care package the biggest saving for families in a generation.

More than 880,000 families will be an average of $1200 a year better off per child under the ALP’s childcare plan.

And almost 372,000 low income families would receive 50 hours a week of free child care.

The plan will increase the existing government subsidy for families earning up to $69,000 a year from 85 per cent to 100 per cent of their

childcare costs.

Families with a combined income of between $69,000 and $100,000 would get a rebate covering 85 per cent of fees, which amounts to an extra $27 a week.

He arrived at the rally to a standing ovation.

Mr Shorten started the rally by taking aim at the Liberal’s “threadbare” policy agenda and dysfunction.

“All they offer is a smug, arrogant, business-as-usual standstill,” he said.

“After six years of chaos, disjunction, cuts, all they’re really offering is two policies,” he said, highlighting the Liberal’s tax cuts and “trickle down economics”.

But Mr Shorten has been dogged by a number of slip ups during the first fortnight of the campaign including promising that Labor wouldn’t increase taxes on superannuation when it has announced a policy to do so. The Labor leader also refused to outline the cost his climate change policy and came under fire for telling a Gladstone man Labor would consider more tax relief for high income earners.

PM JOINS LIBERALS IN SYDNEY

Scott Morrison arrived at the Hall of Legends at Olympic Park with wife Jenny and daughters Abbey and Lily.

Liberal candidates Dr Fiona Martin, Melissa McIntosh and Sarah Richards addressed supporters and introduced Mr Howard who has hit the hustings in western Sydney during the campaign. The Liberal Party is desperate to hold onto the marginal electorate following the resignation of Craig Laundy.

The Liberal Party only selected a candidate, Dr Martin, six weeks out from the federal election. Labor is running McKell Institute director Sam Crosby who has been campaigning for over a year.

While Western Sydney has traditionally been an election battleground for both parties, Scott Morrison is focused on winning back just one seat — Lindsay near Penrith which Labor holds by a margin of about one per cent.

MORRISON’S SPEEDOS PLAN

Scott Morrision says Australians don’t want to see him in the famous Speedos favoured by Tony Abbott.

Speaking on ABC radio’s Australia All Over program with Ian “Macca” McNamara, the Prime Minister he is staying fit on the election campaign with daily swims.

“I swim and no one wants to see me in my speedos,” he said.

“I am going to spare the country from that sight. Physical exertion by politicians is best done away from the cameras.”

Giving details of his campaign fitness routine, Mr Morrison said he tries to swim one kilometre each day.

“It’s actually a good way to meet people too,” he said.

MYSTERIOUS PALMER CANDIDATE

Meanwhile, questions are being asked about United Australia Party candidate, Christine Bernier.

The would-be politician is the second candidate on its NSW Senate ticket for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) but very little is known about Ms Bernier.

The Weekend Australian reports that Ms Bernier hung up on them when she was asked questioned about her experience and work history.

When pressed about her past employment, Ms Bernier reportedly said “Brisbane” before saying she couldn’t speak and abruptly ended the call.

Her profile on the UAP website says she “has lived and worked in Sydney for most of her life as an accountant”.

The site said she had “also worked in sales and investments” and had “volunteered with Mission Australia teaching English to ­migrants and as a branch treasurer with the CWA”.

Ms Bernier is second on the NSW Senate ticket for the UAP behind Brian Burston, who was elected to parliament in 2016. She is unlikely to win a Senate spot.