Just across the Brisbane River from the Coalition’s official campaign launch on Sunday, Labor was doing all it could to smother Scott Morrison’s momentum.
Queenslander Labor stars Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk lent their support to the counter spectacle in a state in which the federal ALP brand has been severely battered at recent elections.
Just as he did at the party’s actual campaign launch two weeks ago, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese came on stage to Sounds of Then after the screening of an advertisement voiced by Russell Crowe.
He had earlier on Sunday told the ABC’s Insiders that Labor would match Mr Morrison’s commitment to expand a superannuation concession to older Australians who sell their homes, lowering the age threshold for a downsizer contribution scheme from 65 to 55. (The government had previously announced plans to lower the minimum age to 60 from July 1.)
Money for Mr Albanese’s headline announcement of a $1 billion fund for advanced manufacturing comes from an earlier campaign commitment to spend $15 billion securing the future of Australian industry.
“Australia will again become a country that makes things,” Mr Albanese said with a speech aimed directly at the party faithful.
Businesses will receive funding to venture into new areas and invest in technology.
Mr Albanese also promised a $730 million upgrade to the Bruce Highway.
‘He can’t change’
Even lightly remixed lines including gags about Barnaby Joyce were well received by an older crowd of true believers.
But it was when Mr Albanese riffed on the Prime Minister’s recent promise to lead less forcefully that he hit his stride.
“The truth is he won’t change because he can’t change,” he said before delivering a rapid-fire list of Labor pledges on climate, a corruption commission, and closing the gender pay gap to loud cheers.
“We can be the change Australia needs.”
The crown had earlier risen to their feet to welcome the last man to bring the party into government from opposition.
Kevin 07 beamed as he offered up red meat for the Labor base with idiosyncratic syntax and folksy touches.
“Did you see Scotty from Marketing’s most recent attempt at personal rebranding?” Mr Rudd said.
“Scotty is now hoping he can wave a magic wand and conjure up the fairies of the bottom of the garden. And hey presto, vote for me after nearly 10 years in office because I promised to be a softer, gentler Scotty in the future.
“Well, pigs might fly.”
Queensland was chosen for the Liberal launch to acknowledge the party’s core constituency, who contributed so much to Mr Morrison’s last electoral “miracle”.
Polls show the government’s messages have far more sway in Queensland than anywhere else in Australia.
But Labor is hoping that Mr Morrison’s demonstrated unpopularity among urban voters will strengthen its hand, especially in the seat of Brisbane.
The seat rests on a margin of slightly less than 5 per cent and has been claimed by the Coalition at the past four elections but was long in the Labor fold before then.
As the campaign has worn on, Labor has become increasingly confident it will return.