While Coalition sources are still making semi-confident noises in their briefings to the press gallery, Scott Morrison seems to have spent most of past week-and-a-bit sandbagging second-tier seats rather than carving out a pathway to victory, while Bill Shorten has remained on the offensive. In the first three weeks of the campaign, Morrison spent roughly as much time in Labor as in Coalition-held electorates, but going back to last weekend, the only prime ministerial visit that seemed in any way targeted at a Labor-held seat was in the New South Wales Central Coast seat of Dobell last Sunday – and that might equally have been pitched at its marginal Liberal-held neighbour, Robertson.
Morrison’s efforts yesterday were devoted to the Melbourne seat of Deakin, which the Liberals believed they had nailed down in more optimistic times earlier in the campaign. Similarly, Friday brought him to Capricornia, one of a number of regional Queensland seats the Coalition was supposedly feeling relaxed about due to the Adani issue. The visit was to Rockhampton, but the announcement of a new CQUniversity mines and manufacturing school equally applied to Gladstone, located in the similarly placed neighbouring seat of Flynn.
Morrison has also spent a lot of time on seats where the Liberals are under pressure from independents. Tuesday was spent straddling the Murray, where Cathy McGowan’s support group hopes to bequeath Indi to Helen Haines on the Victorian side, and Albury mayor Kevin Mack is taking on Liberal member Sussan Ley in the New South Wales seat of Farrer. On Thursday he went to Cowper, which it is feared the Nationals will lose to Rob Oakeshott.
Most remarkably, Morrison also spent the entirety of a trip to Melbourne last Friday in Kooyong, where he made pronouncements on themes not normally considered staples of the Liberal campaign, namely recycling and protection of threatened species (insert Josh Frydenberg joke). The danger there is that the seat will lose the blue-ribbon seat to ex-Liberal independent Oliver Yates. Still more striking is the fact that Bill Shorten felt the seat worth a visit yesterday, if only to be photographed with puppies at Guide Dogs Victoria.
You can find my accounting of the leaders’ movements in spreadsheet form here.
In other news, the last Sunday newspapers of the campaign are typically the first to bring editorial endorsements, although both the Fairfax titles have squibbed it today, as has Perth’s Sunday Times. The four News Corp papers that have taken a stand have all gone as you would expect. The online headline in the Sunday Telegraph says it is “time to end the worst period of political instability and cynicism since federation” – which you should do, naturally, by returning the government. Granted that this makes more sense if you read the whole thing, though very few will of course. In Victoria, the Coalition gets the endorsement of the Sunday Herald Sun, as it did before the state election in November, for all the good it did them. The Brisbane Sunday Mail’s effort is headlined “Australians can’t afford a reckless pursuit of utopia”; the Adelaide Sunday Mail says it’s “time for a steady hand”, i.e. not Bill Shorten’s.
Also today: the latest episode of Seat du jour, tackling the Perth seat of Hasluck.