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We’re down to single digits for the number of days before polling day, and with the election debates now done and dusted, the pace is accelerating. While the prime minister, Scott Morrison, sped south to sandbag the Liberals’ most marginal electorate of Bass in Tasmania, Anthony Albanese appeared a bit more bolshie by campaigning in the less-than-marginal Coalition seat of Flynn in central Queensland.

Both leaders have eyes on set-piece public events this weekend, with a Labor rally and the Coalition campaign launch both planned for Brisbane. Morrison is running out of time to produce another election “miracle”, while Albanese must be trying to will time to speed up after yet another poll showing Labor has the numbers to win.

Nine days to go.

Where the leaders were

Morrison began the day in Launceston, joining Bridget Archer in her seat of Bass (Coalition, 0.4% margin) for a $45m mental health announcement. The pledge would build three new Head to Health clinics, new and expanded Headspace sites, and boosting services around eating disorders, suicide and perinatal mental health.

Archer spoke about her own struggles with mental health, including losing her stepsister to suicide.

Morrison then visited a local bowls club to announce $180,000 to replace a green, and then had a roll himself.

He later went to the Labor-held seat of Lyons (5.2%) to visit a cheese producer, and was confronted by Trevor Sofield, who was Australia’s high commissioner to Solomon Islands in the 1980s. Sofield accused the prime minister of mishandling the relationship with our near neighbour, claiming the foreign minister, Marise Payne, should have done more.

The PM’s security detail have prevented a member of the public from attempting to talk to the Prime Minister at a stop at a dairy door in the seat of Bass. The PM was rushed away from the venue. The man tried to talk to him several times #auspol

— Lanai Scarr (@lanai_scarr) May 12, 2022

Albanese went north, hitting Gladstone’s seat of Flynn (Coalition-held, 8.7%) for a $100m announcement on building a battery manufacturing precinct and to boost local renewable energy businesses. Labor says this would create 10,000 apprenticeships.

Albanese, after brandishing the nation’s most famous gold coin prop, then went to Brisbane to pitch in on prepolling.

Today’s big stories

The final showdown: Albanese was again named the winner of Wednesday’s debate, as decided by groups of undecided voters. Neither leader really landed a killer blow, but punters gave the win to the Labor leader. Important to remember debate results don’t mean much – Bill Shorten was deemed winner of all three debates in 2019, and we all know what happened on election day.

Frydenberg v Morrison: the treasurer has again distanced himself from the PM, as he battles to retain Kooyong. Frydenberg said he “would use different language to what the prime minister has used” on the topic of offensive comments about trans people from Katherine Deves. That’s twice in two weeks Frydenberg said he “would use different words” to Morrison on a key issue, after the PM repeatedly blasted NSW’s Icac as a “kangaroo court”.

Polls: News Corp’s new YouGov poll is pointing to a Labor majority, with a predicted 80 seats, including picking up Coalition-held Higgins, Brisbane, Reid, Bass, Robertson, Pearce, Chisholm and more. Morrison’s side would be reduced to 63 seats, the poll says, and maybe even less, with six key seats like Bennelong, Ryan and Longman considered “too close to call”. As always, take polls with a grain of salt – this election ain’t over yet.

Quote of the day

You’re a tool for Murdoch.

Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd said it to Sky News reporter Simon Love, approached while campaigning in the Victorian seat of Higgins. Rudd has been calling for a royal commission into the News Corp empire, and has been keeping daily tallies of how their newspapers cover the election.

Take a look at today’s wholesale political campaigning for Morrison’s corrupt government: 41 articles favouring the Liberals over Labor; 33 neutral; 6 to Labor. A daily bias tracker record for this campaign. A cancer on democracy.

— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) May 11, 2022

How social media saw it

Loose unit. Did Morrison mean “loose cannon”, which is far more appropriate for the context? Was he misinformed about what “loose unit” means? Or was it all a deliberate ploy to get attention and therefore carry the economic criticism to a wider audience?

Who knows, but it really tickled a lot of folks.

if you’re the lib staffer that told the pm “loose unit” was a cracking zinger, i just wanna talk #auspol

— courtney gould (@heyycourtt) May 11, 2022

Every person under 25 ears pricked up when they heard the term “loose unit” they all think Albo is a legend now. #LeadersDebate

— Anna- (@annatime94) May 11, 2022

Scott Morrison backtracks after learning calling Albanese a “loose unit” is actually a compliment – “Sorry, I actually meant to call him fully sick”

— The Chaser (@chaser) May 11, 2022

Labor supporters really leaned into it – with the opposition’s campaign HQ turning it into a TikTok video (although Albanese quietly sitting in a radio studio, patting dogs and shaking hands isn’t exactly the image most of us would have for a “loose unit”).

While others pointed out the tag might be better applied to other senior members of federal parliament …

The big picture

The unions are keeping up their Hawaii-themed attacks on Morrison with the Victorian Trades Hall now launching the most innovative how-to-vote cards we’ve seen so far. April Sun In Cuba, anyone?

Watch: distracting puns

It’s hard to put Scott Morrison off his game, with the PM notoriously able to just barrel through and keep on talking in the face of journalists’ questions or parliamentary interruptions. But he was somewhat zonked when Sky News reporter Andrea Crothers dipped into her kit bag of puns to say he was “bowling his way through Bass” just as he knelt down for a roll on the green behind her.

“Are you serious?” Morrison said, laughing, setting off the journalists too.

Sky is trying to do a cross as Morrison has a bowl. Reporter starts with “Morrison is bowling his way though Bass for the fourth time…” and the PM cracks up. “Are you serious?!” He laughs. It throws him off. “Puns a plenty at Beauty Point.”

— Georgie Moore (@gemoo4) May 12, 2022

Bowling has been a regular Morrison photo op this campaign, joining locals for lawn bowls and even partaking in a spot of ten-pin on a rare quiet night on the election trail a few weeks ago.

Listen: Full Story’s campaign catchup

How do you measure progress during a pandemic? After the final leaders’ debate, Katharine Murphy joins Jane Lee to reflect on the unique challenges of campaigning to a disillusioned, weary electorate in the midst of a pandemic.

Full Story

Campaign catchup: how do you measure progress during a pandemic?