News Election 2019 Spin Class: Exposing the truth about Labor stealing utes and ‘Clive Palmer, PM’
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Spin Class: Exposing the truth about Labor stealing utes and ‘Clive Palmer, PM’

Clive Palmer Bill Shorten
Will Clive Palmer win government, and does Bill Shorten really want to take your ute? Paula Matthewson cuts the spin. Photos: Getty
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This week the election campaign was filled with claims and counterclaims on policy costings, as well as resignations over inconveniently unearthed social media posts.

But that didn’t distract politicians from continuing to roll out major porkies to voters, who are now at the stage of just wanting the campaign nightmare to be over.

This week’s Spin Class exposes some of the worst.

Will Bill Shorten steal my ute or V8?

No. When the Labor opposition announced its electric vehicle policy last month, various Coalition attack-ministers claimed Bill Shorten had declared war on tradies’ utes and would outlaw other petrol guzzlers, like Aussies’ beloved V8s.

The election cavalcade may have moved on since then, but the true believers on Sky News After Dark (SAD) have continued to fret over the policy, likening it to ‘being told what car to drive’. Unsurprisingly, SAD’s favourite politician, Tony Abbott, described it exactly this way during a candidate debate on Thursday afternoon.

Arguing that we “subcontract too much to experts already” and that “we have a democratic deficit in this country”, Mr Abbott said we shouldn’t let ‘experts’ tell us what kind of cars we drive and that we, the people, should be in charge of such decisions.

Scott Morrison echoed the refrain, claiming that Mr Shorten actually wanted to ‘end the weekend’.

“You should have the choice of the car you want to drive and get around on the weekend,” the PM said.

These sad ute-defenders might have had a point if Labor had actually announced that half of all the 19 million cars in Australia must be electric by 2030. However, the Opposition’s policy aims to have half of all the (expected) 1 million new cars sold in 2030 to be electric. That’s a difference of 18.5 million cars.

Yes, Labor also proposed to lower vehicle emissions standards to a level that many of our favourite gas-guzzlers do not currently meet, which is partly due to vehicle design and partly due to the composition of fuel used in Australia.

But again this is not about taking your ute. Labor committed to working with vehicle manufacturers and fuel producers to phase in the lower standards, which can’t be that draconian when they already apply in another home of the gas-guzzler, the US.

Meanwhile, the Coalition’s climate action policies already assume that 25-50 per cent of new cars will be electric by 2030, the same time as Labor.

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Has Scott Morrison really cut funding from the NDIS? Photo: AAP

Has Scott Morrison cut $1.6 billion from the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

No. Last month the federal budget confirmed reports the government had spent $1.6 billion less than it had planned for the year on the NDIS. This was due to a less than expected ‘uptake’ of the scheme by assistance recipients.

The news came as a shock to the people with disabilities still waiting to have their applications for assistance assessed. What the government claimed was a lack of demand was seen by those waiting for help as the result of frustrating and complex bureaucracy, compounded by a lack of staff to administer the process.

Labor leader Bill Shorten argued that, “When money budgeted for the NDIS isn’t going to the NDIS, it’s a cut” – even though the $1.6 billion is the amount that will be left over after all NDIS expenses are paid up to the end of June this year.

Mr Shorten admitted as much on Friday when he announced a new fund would be created to collect any NDIS ‘under-spends’ if he was elected to government. This would ensure that all funds allocated to the NDIS will only be spent on the scheme.

Is Clive Palmer ‘on track’ to win government?

Full-page newspaper ads from born-again politician Clive Palmer have appeared in the past fortnight, claiming that, “The United Australia Party will win government”.

Exhorting Australians not to “read or believe fake news”, the open letter asserts Mr Palmer’s UAP is ‘on track’ to win government at the May federal election, with opinion polls showing 15 per cent of voters currently intend to support UAP candidates. The letter also predicts that the majority of the 28 per cent undecided vote will also vote UAP.

However, Newspoll currently finds only 5 per cent of voters support the UAP, and that’s when respondents are told the names of the parties. When not given any such prompts, the UAP vote drops even lower.

With just two weeks left of the election campaign, there is just not enough time for Mr Palmer to lift the UAP’s vote to a winning level in the 76 seats that he needs to claim government.

It’s proving hard enough for Mr Morrison to lift the Coalition’s primary vote from 38 to 40 per cent.

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