We have reached the official halfway point of the mammoth 56-day election campaign, with the fast-wearying electorate now over the hump and on the downhill slope on the path to the July 2 poll.
With four weeks done, four weeks still to go, it's a decent time to take stock, have a breather, and remember what we've battled through so far -- because it's been a long slog already.
In the four weeks of #AusVotes, we've been bombarded with press conferences, emails, media releases, announcements and more. We combed through as many as we could find, for a tally of every policy and every dollar that has been announced and pledged since Malcolm Turnbull officially called the election on May 8 -- and there are some surprising results.
(These numbers and policies are by no means an exhaustive list -- as a Labor spokesperson told The Huffington Post Australia, many small policies are announced each day in local electorates, which don't get much news coverage or warrant a press release.)
The government, fresh from announcing its federal budget just days before Turnbull visited the Governor-General to ask for an election, would be forgiven for not going too hard on the policy front at this stage of the campaign. Keep in mind that they announced billions upon billions of dollars of spending and new policy in that budget document, just five days earlier.
In fact, they've announced at least 74 policies since May 8 -- more than two each day.
Labor, on the other hand, is running for government. They're trying to wrestle control of the country from the Coalition, and the normal logic is to announce a bunch of projects, promise a lot of money, and try to win over voters through their wallets. But Labor has only circulated press releases for around 35 policies, less than half that of the government. This does not take into account Labor's much-spruiked "100 positive promises", many of which were announced before the election was called.
But, on the flipside, Labor's 35 policies add up to a total of around $27 billion, while the 74 policies that we found from the government so far commits only around $931 million. About half of Labor's big total comes from their promises to restore indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule ($12.2 billion over the decade to 2026-27) and to scrap cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme ($3.6 billion over the decade).
Check out the figures for yourself. As we said, these lists are not exhaustive, and other projects no doubt have been announced. We've taken the descriptions straight from the press releases and media statements which announced the policies.
Coalition policies announced since election called on May 8
Labor Policies announced since election called on May 8
What you may also notice, are some trends around how and when and how often parties announce their policies. The Coalition has announced more than 70 policies, but many are small, very local projects -- relatively small change for CCTV cameras, road upgrades, sporting facilities and heritage works. The government has also held over a number of grants for the Safer Communities scheme, which were funded and allocated well before the election, until election season and announced them as if they were new promises.
Labor, on the other hand, seems to be taking a more precise focus with its announcements. Every day or so, there seems to be a central theme that will extend for a day or so -- women's sport, with two announcements over three days; indigenous and Northern Australia issues, four policies over two days; Medicare and medicine, three announcements over five days. Spreading their policies out, rather than overloading the public with many small announcements, allows them to keep the focus on a certain issue for days at a time, hammering their points home.
While the first half of the campaign has been focusing on issues like healthcare, childcare, sport, infrastructure and tourism, there are a few issues we'd like to see feature more prominently in coming weeks. Some discussion on housing, homelessness, domestic violence, mental health and refugee issues is surely sorely overdue.