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Kopika Murugappan turns seven today – and is spending another birthday in community detention, as AAP reports:

One of the daughters of a Tamil family of asylum seekers will spend her seventh birthday in community detention as the push for their permanent settlement in Australia gains momentum.

Known as the Biloela family, three of the four-strong Murugappan family – parents Priya and Nades along with daughter Kopika – were granted 12-month bridging visas by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke last year following a long ordeal.

The family, who escaped Sri Lanka by boat due to a protracted ethnic conflict targeting the minority Tamils, were given temporary protection visas but were then uprooted in March 2018 from Biloela, Queensland and placed in a Melbourne detention centre by authorities. They were then detained on Christmas Island in August 2019.

The asylum seekers were finally placed in community detention in Perth following the medical evacuation of their youngest daughter Tharnicca from Christmas Island in June 2021 due to a blood infection. Tharnicca remains the only member of the family without a bridging visa.

Supporters are urging Hawke to use his ministerial powers ahead of the election and before their 12-month visas expire in September.

“It breaks my heart to be celebrating another of Kopi’s birthdays while she’s still in some form of detention,” said Angela Fredericks, from the Home to Bilo campaign.

The family has garnered support across the political spectrum especially from independent candidates including Dr Monique Ryan, Jane Caro and Kylea Tink.

In stark contrast to his coalition colleagues, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce reaffirmed his backing of the Tamil family’s case last month on the campaign trail.

“My position remains the same. I’m having discussions with (Immigration Minister Alex Hawke). We have seen at this point in time, this family has not been extradited back to Sri Lanka,” he said.

© Provided by The Guardian Pro-refugee protesters rally at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne last year. Photograph: James Ross/AAP


Those against hung parliaments like to point to the ‘chaos and confusion’ of the 2010 parliament, where Julia Gillard formed government with the support of three crossbench MPs.

But not a single vote was lost on the floor (something this government, which holds a majority can’t say) and the ‘chaos and confusion’ was not around legislation, but the internal ructions within the Labor party (which ended up contributing to its demise)


00:36 Paul Karp

Earlier, Liberal MP Jason Falinski went head to head with independent opponent Sophie Scampson 2GB Radio.

Falinski said:

My real worry is we end up with a hung parliament. We live in a very uncertain world with a dangerous geopolitical situation and an economic recovery that is not assured. Inflation is 5.1%, interest rates are going up. I don’t want a hung parliament, we saw in 2010 the chaos and dysfunction.”

Scamps was cagey about who she would support in the event of a hung parliament, explaining not all policies have been announced, and she will negotiate “with either side” after Australians see what they’re prepared to bring to the table.

Scamps argued the Liberal Party “cannot rule in its own right” and was being “led around by the nose” by the Nationals.

She also took aim at “toxic factional infighting” in the Liberal Party, in relation to NSW preselection stoushes before the election.

Falinski said he was “on record saying it wasn’t good enough, members should have had a say [in preselections] and it won’t happen again”.


00:35 Paul Karp

The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has spoken to 3AW about his tough contest in Kooyong, where independent Monique Ryan has a slight lead according to public polls.

Frydenberg declared that, like Mark Twain, “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”, explaining that he is encouraged by feedback he is receiving at prepoll, although there is a “long way to go” and he expects it to be close.

Frydenberg refused to say how much he is spending on the campaign, after reports Ryan will spend $1.2m. He said he’s “got enough” and it’s “fair to say both are spending significant amounts to prosecute our case”.

Frydenberg was asked repeatedly if low-paid workers deserve a pay rise, and ducked and weaved saying this was up to the Fair Work Commission.

Eventually he managed:

We clearly want to lift the pay of all workers, including most lowly paid.”

I’m not sure that is clear, when the Morrison government submission to the FWC argues for the “importance of low paid work” as a stepping stone to other jobs; and when Scott Morrison has attacked Anthony Albanese for supporting a 5.1% pay rise to keep pace with inflation.


Scott Morrison has confirmed he plans on bringing back the religious discrimination legislation, if he is re-elected – but has not committed to enshrining protections for LGBTIQ students at the same time (which is what caused moderate Liberals to rebel and resulted in the government pulling its own bill just before parliament ended)

Tony Abbott saw religious discrimination bill as ‘unnecessary’ says Christine Forster

Christine Forster is contemplating a run for the NSW state parliament, after a spell on the Sydney City Council.

Forster has spoken to the Sydney Sentinel about her plans but she also gives her opinion on how the Liberal party handled the religious discrimination bill – and what she thinks her brother, former Liberal PM Tony Abbott, would have done differently.

Forster says Abbott saw the bill as “unnecessary”.

From the Sentinel:

While there’s no question she’d run for the Liberal Party, she describes the federal party’s recent (ultimately unsuccessful) move to introduce a Religious Discrimination Bill as a “completely unnecessary piece of legislation”.

“There was a lot of pain and grief that shouldn’t have happened.”

– Christine Forster

“It was a fop to the irrational, aggrieved right of the party – not somebody like my brother who also saw it as unnecessary – he’s a more rational and intelligent conservative than some of them are,” she says. “All it ever was going to be was divisive.”

What does the saga say about Scott Morrison, I ask her?

“That he’s a canny politician. He was responding to forces within his own party that he felt needed to be assuaged, but they’ve seen sense and pulled it. Ultimately, the right result was achieved. But there was a lot of pain and grief that shouldn’t have happened to get to that point.”

NSW reports 23 lives lost to Covid

NSW Health has reported that 23 Covid patients have died in the last 24 hours.


ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher is facing a challenge from progressive independent Senate candidates including David Pocock and Kim Rubenstein, as well as the Greens, which cuts into her vote.

She told the ABC:

Well, it means I’ve got to fight for every vote. Absolutely. But I do that at every election. That’s my the way I’ve approached campaigning. And this is no different from that. I think the race is tighter in this Senate campaign that it has been in the past. And I think when you have a number of progressive candidates, common sense would say that that would split the vote in a number of different ways.


So that is the one unity ticket among the major party MPs – not believing the polling.

(Which makes you wonder why their campaigns spend so much money on polling and research, but anyway … )


Jason Clare was on ABC TV this morning, continuing to sell Labor’s messages:

We’ve had three debates now, everything from a cage fight to a tea party, and Albo has won all three. And I think the reason for that, you could hear it from what people were saying in the pubs after the debate on Channel Seven – they made the point that Albo was talking from the heart and talking about our plans to fix the real problems that are out there. All you heard from Scott Morrison was rehearsed excuses. And I think Australians are sick of that.

© Provided by The Guardian Labor campaign spokesperson Jason Clare. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Labor senator Katy Gallagher is also not putting much stock in the polls.

She told RN Breakfast:

Well, I don’t think we take anything for granted. I mean, it’s the 21st of May and the results that come from that that matter. You know, I think this is a very close election. Labor has only won from opposition three times – we take nothing for granted.

And we will be campaigning right up until the 21st of May. That’s the reality, you know, and, you know, polls come and go and as we know, from previous elections, you know, they’re not, you know, you don’t necessarily believe them, in fact, you don’t believe them, because the votes that matter is the votes that are cast on polling day, and that’s the only measure of what the people of Australia think and where they want to go.

And that’s what we’re focused on arguing for a better future with all of the policies that we have outlined.

© Provided by The Guardian Shadow finance minister Katy Gallagher. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Josh Frydenberg told ABC TV he believed Scott Morrison won last night’s debate.

He also believes moderate Liberals have done enough to influence the party from the inside:

Let me take those issues individually. Firstly, on climate, I was a strong advocate, so was Dave Sharma, Katie Allen, Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson and many others about getting Australia to net zero emissions by 2050.

We argued inside the tent for that commitment and it’s in Australia’s best interest that it’s a bipartisan commitment. It’s Australia’s best interest that we have a long-term economic plan to get there.

My opponent in Kooyong, like the other so-called teal independents, they have high emissions reduction targets but they have no plan to get there.

There is no detail other than the target itself which they can’t explain. There’s no costings behind it. Whereas we’re investing in microgrid, small-scale solar and wind in remote communities, Snowy Hydro 2.0 to be the big battery for the east coast of Australia, clean hydrogen with new hubs right across the country from Bell Bay in Tasmania and the Hunter, in New South Wales, to La Trobe here in Victoria – La Trobe Valley in Victoria. We’re focusing on new technologies to get us there.


What does Jason Clare think of Scott Morrison calling Anthony Albanese a “loose unit”?

Oh, look, my response to that, you know, it shows a prime minister who’s getting pretty desperate, isn’t he? All he’s got left is sledges.

He was asked a question in this debate last night, “Say something nice about Anthony Albanese.” He couldn’t even do that without putting in a sledge.

This has all the hallmarks of a try-hard Trump. Got nothing left, no policies. All he’s got left is excuses and sledges. I think Australians expect better than that. They want better than that. They’re yearning for something better than that. And that’s what we are offering the Australian people at this election.


Q: Can you tell me if a Labor government would be putting 5.1% wage rise for minimum wage as a recommendation in a formal submission to the Fair Work Commission?

Jason Clare:

Well, we’re saying if we were put in a position in government, is we don’t want Australians to go backwards.

Remember what this is all about. You’re talking about Aussies on the lowest incomes, 20 bucks an hour, and saying we don’t want them to go backwards. We want their wages to keep up with the cost of living. What does that mean? That means an extra $1 an hour. A dollar an hour. From $20 an hour to $21.

Q: You’re asking people to vote for you, and Anthony Albanese said, “Absolutely, 5.1%.” Will it be part of a formal submission?


I think I just did …

Q: No, you didn’t.


I think I just did. OK, go ahead. I don’t want to interrupt you.

Q: No, no, no, I just think we need to be super clear about this, whether 5.1% will be the figure in a formal submission to the Fair Work Commission?


And what Albo said last night, what Jim said, I think, to Fran yesterday, is that if we win the election, we’ll put in a submission, and the basis of that submission is we don’t want Aussies going backwards.

You know, when you’ve got inflation at 5.1%, do we really want Aussies on the lowest incomes to go backwards? You know, it’s not surprising that the Labor party is saying that we don’t want Aussies to go backwards, but Scott Morrison is saying that he would be very happy if that happens. And while all of that’s happening, Lisa, while we’re having this debate, you’ve got Liberal MPs saying that politicians should get a pay rise. The only people in this country that the Libs ever think should get a pay rise are politicians. That shows just how out of touch this mob is.


I would have to concur.


But like Josh Frydenberg, Jason Clare is also not paying attention to the polls:

I think we’ve learnt the hard way, haven’t we, don’t listen to the polls. We’ve gotta win seats, not polls.

But I do think that Australians have worked this bloke out. You know, they gave him a chance three years ago, and we’ve worked out – I think Australians have worked out – that this bloke just makes up excuses, never takes responsibility, always blames other people, doesn’t do the job.

You know, how many times have you heard Scott Morrison say, “It’s not my job.”

Last night he refused again to setting up a national anti-corruption commission. Now, after everything that’s happened, all of the evidence of the rorts and corruption and misuse of taxpayers’ money, he still refuses to act there.

We got that question about Alan Tudge last night. Now, here’s a minister who is minister for education, half a million bucks of taxpayers’ money has now been paid in compensation to his former staffer, and we find out last night that, if they win in nine days’ time, he will be back as the education minister.

The bloke is in hiding at the moment. Scooby-Doo* would struggle to find him. But if they win in nine days’ time, Scott Morrison says he’s back and he’s education minister. They’re treating the Australian people with contempt.

*We all know it was mostly Velma doing the work.


23:23 Peter Hannam

Expect some more campaign inflation chatter today, and not just over whether or not minimum wages should keep pace with prices. (We looked at some of the “alarmism” here yesterday.)

Overnight we had the US posting its CPI for April, with the headline rate coming in at 8.3% (ours was 5.1% in the March quarter, heading towards 6% by the year’s end – if the RBA is on the money).

Anyway, the US data was a bit higher than the market expected, so stocks and some other asset prices took a dive.

As Westpac stated in a note this morning:

While the pullback in annual inflation from last month suggests that a peak has been seen, the breadth of rising components raises concerns that inflation pressures will be slow to subside.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, also posted 7.4% CPI inflation in April – the highest since 1981. That number, at least, met market expectations, so European stock investors didn’t panic.

Overseas shifts will be among the challenges for whichever PM and treasurer take over after polls close here on 21 May. We looked at some of the main ones here:

Related: Markets turmoil and interest rate rises: the economic challenges facing Australia after the election

A reminder that there are two big economic numbers to land before the votes are in.

On 18 May, we’ll see the wage price index for the March quarter, which NAB chief economist Alan Oster reckons would come in at an annual rate of about 2.5%. (Half the CPI rate, in other words.)

The next day we’ll get the April labour market figures – and we’ll see if the jobless rate stays around 4% – the lowest since the mid-70s.


Josh Frydenberg says he isn’t paying to much to the polls or modelling showing he is danger of losing his seat:

And there was one newspaper outlet that ran an exit poll [last election] at the polling booth that I was at in my electorate and said that and found that I was getting more than half the vote. So I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions of the these polls which you should not take as gospel.

So is he confident he will win?

I’m confident that I can continue to win the trust of my local community because I’ve worked hard for them for the last 12 years [and] we’ve delivered for our local community. But also at the same time I’ve been treasurer of the country during the most significant economic shocks since the since the Great Depression and the feedback on the booth and indeed, more broadly in my communities, from small business owners and from family members about how programs like jobkeeper actually kept them alive during a pretty tumultuous time. So people are coming out of this crisis. And they understand that the government has done the right thing by them.


The treasurer was also asked on ABC radio about Scott Morrison’s statement last night that he wants to see wages go up – by how much?

Josh Frydenberg:

Well, ultimately, what we’re saying is we are making a submission based on the economic circumstances of the time, Labor is saying they’re calling for a 5.1% increase. And this is a flippant comment from the leader of the opposition. Again, it goes to his lack of competence around the economy, just as he didn’t know the unemployment rate, and he didn’t know the cash rate. And you cannot run a $2.1tn economy one press conference at a time. You can’t run your small business, one press conference at a time and you can’t run an economy, one press conference at a time.

But does the government have an idea of how much it would like to see wages raise by, given the Howard government used to put a figure on it?

That has not been our practice and that is not our policy, and it seems that that we had a similar position previously from the Labor party until just two days ago and Anthony Albanese made a policy on the run and it goes again, to what is the consequences for small businesses that they now need to find an extra 5.1% for their payroll based on a flippant comment at a press conference.

He then seems to remember midstream that it is the independent Fair Work Commission which sets the minimum wage and continues:

What they do is wait for the Fair Work Commission to make a determination and we know that about 2% of people are on that minimum wage, but another 23% are actually impacted by the flow on through the award system.

And so you got more than 2.7 million people that are going to be impacted by such a decision that has brought consequences.

Anthony Albanese has not thought through his position. And as a result, you’ve got independent economists have said that a 5.1% increase in wages as put by him would lead to higher interest rates, and therefore more pressure on mortgage holders, higher inflation and a loss of jobs.

Which doesn’t explain what would happen if the FWC decides to raise wages by a similar rate or how arguing one case is “interference” but arguing another is not.

Good morning

We have made it to the single digits. There are just nine days to go in the campaign, and with all leaders’ debates done and dusted, expect a flurry of activity from both leaders as each tries to win over voters in crucial seats.

Modelling by YouGov, first published by NewsCorp, shows Labor is on track for a majority win, including Josh Frydenberg losing his seat of Kooyong.

Speaking to ABC radio, Frydenberg said the “quiet Australians” haven’t had their say yet:

Obviously, many will vote before election day, but the bulk will vote on election day. And John Howard used to call them his battlers.

Sir Robert Menzies called them the forgotten people. Scott Morrison has described these people as the quiet Australians …

They’re not people who are jumping on the keyboard as keyboard warriors on the Twitterverse. They’re not people who are marching outside the streets on the issue of the day. And they’re not people who who are necessarily always answering the calls from the pollsters.

Who they are is mum and dads. Young people who just want to keep their job. In many cases, they run a small business, they want to health system that they can rely on at times of need, they want a good education for their kids. They want to be secure in their retirement. And, if they’re people of faith, they actually want to go to church and not be ridiculed for that for that fact.

It seemed both leaders got the memo before last night’s debate that people weren’t particularly inspired by two middle-aged men sniping at each other like cats over the comfy blanket, so they managed to keep it together for the final verbal battle.

Seven’s pub test had Anthony Albanese as the winner, winning every pub except Hasluck, where the result was tied. Voters seemed to resonate with the “we can do better” message, which has been created as a foil to the “you have a choice to make” message from Morrison.

So no early birthday present for the PM.

Today each leader is back on the campaign proper, with every day from now on to count. Last election, after Bob Hawke’s death, the Labor campaign slowed down in the final days while the Liberal campaign crisscrossed the country. Don’t expect either to take the foot off the accelerator.

So strap in.

Katharine Murphy, Sarah Martin, Josh Butler, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst will help you make sense of the day, and you have Amy Remeikis on the blog for most of the day.

Let’s get into it.