Over on ABC Breakfast TV, Anne Ruston was asked why Scott Morrison isn’t doing more street walks in this campaign:
Trevor Sofield said she just wanted a civil conversation. What was wrong with that?
Well, I mean, obviously I wasn’t there and I was not confronted with the situation that the security detail was confronted with, but they do their job in very hard circumstances and often very dangerous circumstances as we saw in the situation in Tasmania a few weeks ago. (The security detail was involved in a car crash)
They take their role seriously and do an amazing job in protecting all of us that are out on the campaign trail. And, you know, I think, you know, we need to respect the fact that they were – they were doing their job and there are other mechanisms through which people are able to get access to our leaders. I mean, certainly I know that my door is always open and my phone lines are always open should people want to contact me and provide me with their views on particular issues and so I would certainly encourage anybody who wants to put their views forward to do it through a way, but I would also say, you know, the Australian Federal Police are an amazing service that protect everybody.
Q: Federal Police had their job to protect the Prime Minister and also the opposition leader, but I guess it goes to the broader question, doesn’t it, Senator Ruston – why isn’t the Prime Minister engaging with random voters, random people, more often?
Well, look, obviously the Prime Minister is on a number of occasions made himself – has engaged more broadly, certainly his visit to the Royal Sydney Show.
Q: That was one occasion, what were the other occasions?
Well, I mean, the Prime Minister meets with many people on the campaign trail at many times, but I suppose one of the things that probably is a reflection on the sad reality of modern-day politics is the need, the quite significant need, for close personal protection, not just of the Prime Minister, but also of the Leader of the Opposition and other…
Q: I have seen him in campaign trails in the past with the AFP and doing a great job and other members of the security team walking down suburban shopping strips allowing in this case the Prime Minister to speak to, expose himself to the views of random voters. Why aren’t we seeing that?
Well, as I said, unfortunately we’re seeing a time these days where, you know, the people are perhaps not as safe to be able to be walking down the street. But as I said, the Prime Minister did go to the Royal Sydney Show and engage with a number of people that were at the show which was a fantastic opportunity for him to engage with people out on the ground during the Easter break.
But, you know, this is a very serious campaign with very serious issues that we – we want to talk to the Australian public about the decision and the choice that they have at the next election and I think both leader, but the Prime Minister particularly, has engaged on a platform to make sure that he is able to provide that message in the best possible way to the most voters across Australia, and using the platform that you have, and that’s through the media to make sure that message is very clearly broadcast across the whole of Australia.
Queensland continues to be impacted by floods, as AAP reports:
Heavy rain is forecast to keep drenching parts of Queensland, with the weather bureau predicting falls of 160mm across the southeast that could bring life-threatening flash flooding.
Gympie, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Cooroy, Nambour and Rainbow Beach are all on flood watch on Friday as a surface trough moves across the coast.
“Locally intense rainfall which may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is possible with thunderstorms during Friday afternoon,” the BOM said in an alert on Thursday.
Major flooding is forecast for Laidley Creek and the Mary River at Gympie, with moderate flood warnings for the Bremer, Lockyer and Brisbane rivers on Friday.
The continued rainfall comes as a man was found safe and well after disappearing near a campsite south of Gympie in the state’s southeast.
Police and swift water rescue crews had been searching for the 36-year-old after he was reported missing at 10am on Thursday.
He was last seen chasing his dog away from the Yabba Creek Road campground near Imbil about 11.30pm on Wednesday.
Floodwaters cut off access to the site with the RACQ LifeLight chopper deployed amid heavy rainfall.
Police confirmed the man had been located “safe and well” on Thursday afternoon.
A woman in her 30s died in floods near Mackay earlier this week as rains up to 10 times the monthly average battered the north and the central interior of the state.
A man in his 60s was also treated for hyperthermia after spending Wednesday night clinging to a tree after his car became swamped by floodwaters near Bundaberg.
Heavy rainfall across Queensland is the state’s sixth major flood event since December with a combined death toll of 28.
The BOM warned of further heavy rainfall over the next 24 hours before lowering in intensity and easing following the weekend.
There are eight days left in the campaign, with the leaders now looking to consolidate their messages.
For the Coalition, that message is “who do you trust with the economy” as it continues its spend-a-thon, with Sarah Martin and Nick Evershed reporting it has made $3bn in spending promises for 10 marginal seats.
Sarah and Nick have gone through all the funding announcements and discovered that along with the big headline announcements made each day, there are hyper local ones aimed at winning key seats.
The promises range from those in the tens of thousands, such as $100,000 for a playground upgrade in Kiola in Gilmore, to those in the hundreds of millions, such as the $336m regional road package targeting marginal seats in northern Tasmania.
Labor, for its part, has pledged close to $1bn for its top 10 marginals, with McEwen leading the list of commitments at $150m, as it seeks to fend off the challenge from the Liberals, followed by the Labor-held seats of Corangamite and Moreton.
Does anyone else smell roast pork?
Meanwhile, Australia’s relationship with Solomon Islands continues to haunt the campaign, after Trevor Sofield, the high commissioner to the Solomons from 1982 to 1985 (and our second) said he was “manhandled” by the PM’s security after he tried to approach Morrison at a Tasmanian cheese shop yesterday.
Sofield, 78, said he wanted to raise his concerns with how the government was handling the relationship with Solomons.
Labor is bracing for another day of wages questions, and trying to shift the dial to the environment
Labor has said it will release its costings after the Coalition’s campaign launch (to be held in Brisbane on Sunday) with the Coalition trying to push the message Labor’s pledges haven’t been costed. That included a press conference with Simon Birmingham and Josh Frydenberg with a costings “score board” yesterday – 22 to 0.
Eight days to go.
You have Murph and the team to guide you through the day. I am already on coffee number three, so let’s jump straight in.