Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spent the morning clapping and singing in praise during an Easter church service, inviting media in to film his worship for the first time.
Mr Morrison invited cameras in to his Pentecostal church in Sydney’s south where he and wife Jenny joined the congregation for a lively and musical prayer service on Sunday morning.
“This has been a bedrock of our family ever since we moved here, many years ago,” he said as he left the Horizon church in Sutherland Shire.
“Today is all about hope and that’s what we’ve been celebrating this morning on Easter Sunday.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, meanwhile, spoke to excited children at an Easter egg hunt in Brisbane following a service at St Andrew’s Anglican Church.
They were joined by family including Chloe Shorten’s mother, former Australian Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce.
“For many, Easter is a time that carries deep meaning. It is a time for worship, for reflection, and a special opportunity for families to come together,” Mr Shorten said in an Easter message.
It comes after a Good Friday campaign ceasefire between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader ended almost before it began, with the two leaders trading verbal blows as if they had never heard of the word ‘truce’.
With the gloves off, Mr Shorten landed a hard jab by announcing Labor would restore penalty rates to previous levels within its first 100 days in office.
“Get them back to double time on Sundays, and to double time and a half for the public holidays,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne, pounding home the message that Australian workers had experienced the lowest wages growth on record.
“This election is a referendum on wages,” Mr Shorten insisted, accusing the Morrison government of planning even more penalty-rate cuts.
LIVE from Melbourne: Labor will reverse the Liberals’ cuts to penalty rates in our first 100 days. https://t.co/iGD0xcOtSQ
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) April 20, 2019
Labor claimed workers in the hospitality, retail and pharmacy sectors will be hundreds of dollars worse off over the Easter holiday period due to reduced penalty rates.
Government counter-attacks on health
Mr Morrison began the day in Sydney on Saturday, promising $100 million to extend access to clinical trials to people living in regional and remote areas.
Life-changing drugs “are too often only extended to those who can access treatment in metropolitan areas,” he said.
“We’re extending that … to ensure that people living in remote communities, rural communities and regional communities get that same chance.”
The Coalition also committed $65 million for Australia’s first adult cystic fibrosis specialist unit, to be established at a Western Sydney hospital.
Cystic fibrosis is a terrible progressive genetic disease, which mostly affects the lungs and digestive system, and limits the ability to breathe over time. It impacts the lives of around 3500 Australians.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) April 20, 2019
Mr Morrison said bulk-billing rates had risen 85 per cent under the Coalition government, adding that only a federal government which understands how to “manage money” is the only viable option to oversee the health system.
‘Death tax’ lies
Part of the Easter truce agreed upon by both leaders meant that the parties had to pull all advertising, including sponsored Facebook ads, on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Labor has written to Facebook demanding it take action on a wide-spread campaign spreading lies about a “death tax”.
News Corp reported that the party believes some accounts on Facebook have been sharing a link to a real press release issued by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in January, alongside false claims that Labor and the Greens would create a 40 per cent inheritance tax.
Labor says the posts are deliberately spreading lies, as the party does not have a policy to introduce such a tax, and that the posts are part of a targeted misinformation campaign.
The Coalition, however, told News Corp it had no knowledge of the campaign.
Meanwhile, questions are being asked of Barnaby Joyce after a report by Channel Ten’s The Project revealed the former water minister and National party leader approved a deal in 2017 to spend nearly $80 million on buying back water the government couldn’t use.
The report also reveals that the company which sold those water licences back to the government is connected to Energy Minister Angus Taylor.
The Government’s been buying up water at record prices, leading to millions of dollars flowing to offshore tax havens. But now, two of our top pollies are facing questions over just who is making a fortune off our water.@HamishNews and @MichaelWestBiz bring you this report pic.twitter.com/5UTH1NHJzR
— The Project (@theprojecttv) April 18, 2019
From 2008-’09, Mr Taylor was both director and secretary of Eastern Australian Agriculture, the company which made an enormous $52 million profit from the deal.
From 2007 until this year, the company had been wholly owned by another company called Eastern Australia Irrigation, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has issued a statement in response to The Project’s claims.
A spokesperson for Mr Taylor said the Energy Minister “took no financial benefit from any transactions or profits of the company”.
“I repeat and emphasise: Minister Taylor concluded all association with EAA and related companies prior to entering the Parliament,” the statement reads.
The next day of the federal leaders’ agreed truce is Easter Sunday.