Canberra Week in Review 11 March

No election date has been set, but the major parties appear to already be in campaign mode.



Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has spent most of his week in South Australia. 

The tour began in Adelaide where the federal government committed $230 million towards an investment in defence.    

“The Centre for Defence Industry Capability will be established here in Adelaide. This centre will ensure that the businesses, the innovators, the food growers of the future, are able to connect with defence.” 

Mr Turnbull was joined by Defence Minister Marise Payne, who declined to confirm whether Australian offshore patrol vessels will be built in South Australia.

“As you’d be aware there is a competitive evaluation process underway. We indicated that the $30 billion Future Frigate Program would be based here in Adelaide, and that the offshore patrol vessels would be engaged in a competitive evaluation process slightly differently from that. Those results will be announced later in the year.” 

The latest Newspoll remains unchanged with both the Coalition and Labor 50-50 in two party preferred terms. 

Mr Turnbull’s personal approval rating, though, is starting to slide – but he remains overwhelmingly the preferred prime minister. 

“I’ll leave you to plough through the entrails of the polling results. There are so many talented commentators on the opinion polls, I’ll leave it to you. It’ll stick to my job.”  

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten spent his week in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.

Along the way he endorsed candidates in marginal seats – starting here with the island state.

“It’s fantastic to be in Deloraine, and I encourage all Australians to visit Deloraine.// It is a real privledge to be here at Marina Radiology Services.//It’s great to be here with Anne Charlton Labor’s candidate for Robertson.” 

Continued media speculation that the government may be considering bringing forward the federal budget to allow for a double dissolution election, possibly in July, seems to have Labor on the attack.

Sending Australians to the polls early would also mean a gruelling seven-week election campaign. 

Mr Shorten sees it as a wasteful move.

“I don’t want Mr Turnbull wasting taxpayer money on political stunts to try and keep Mr Turnbull in power. Australians already know division and dysfunction is at the heart of the Turnbull government.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott made headlines when detailed claims about his government emerged in a new book.  

Author and political journalist Nicky Savvy focused on the relationship between Mr Abbott his long-time Chief of Staff Peta Credlin.  

Ms Credlin and Mr Abbott both hit back dismissing the accusations they had an affair as nothing more than gossip. 

Ms Savva says the two contributed significantly to the demise of Mr Abbott’s government.   

“(SAVVA) If he had been doing a good job, if his judgement was flawless, if the judgement of his chief of staff was flawless – they would still be there. They’re not. (JOURNALIST) Is this book a nail in the coffin for Tony Abbott – we won’t see him coming back from this? (SAVVA) Who knows.” 

Not entirely unexpected in some Canberra quarters was the political comeback of former independent MP Tony Windsor. 

Mr Windsor left office in 2013, but has been dabbling with the idea of returning to challenge Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for the Northern NSW seat of New England. 

He finally played his hand in a characteristically-long press conference.                       

“I’ve decided after much consultation – particularly with my family, particularly with my wife who I have the uTmost respect for – and we as a team have decided to run for the seat of New England.” 

Tony Windsor is a popular figure in the electorate having won more than 60 per cent of first preference votes in the 2010 federal election.  

That said, he knows he has a big job ahead of him to convince voters he is once again worthy of office.     

“We’ll mount a full-scale, grassroots campaign, and I’m fully aware that it’ll be a David and Goliath event, and I’m looking forward to that, and I’ll need the help of as many people I can get. Both within and outside the electorate.”

Quoting some of what Mr Windsor had said about him, Barnaby Joyce claims he’s ready for the fight. 

“‘I’m a crazy right winger, I’m deputy dog, I’m this I’m that and something else.’ People don’t want that. That’s what everyone from my mother to my mother-in-law tells me. People want us to be dignified and lets continue on like that.” 

It’s expected to be a tight contest. 

But if preferences from Country Labor, the Greens and other independent candidates flow Mr Windsor’s way he could get over the line.