The 9 Most Important Moments Of The Liberal Campaign Launch

Dogs, Labor hijackings and a lot of new policy.

26/06/2016 2:47 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:55 PM AEST
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The elephant in the room, Tony Abbott.

The Liberal Party launch out at Homebush, in Sydney's west, was a relatively quiet and intimate affair. Little in the way of surprises from the government, but for those of you who couldn't make it out, here are the most important moments from the Liberal launch:

Yes, without even being in the state, Bill Shorten tried his very best to hijack the Liberals' big day. After launching his party's campaign in Penrith, just 40 minutes down the road, last Sunday, the Labor leader held a second launch on Sunday in Brisbane -- what he called a "Brisbane launch". They even unveiled a new "Bill bus" bearing their current campaign centrepiece, a scare campaign over Medicare.

It was the same day that Labor's economic team, Tony Burke and Chris Bowen, planned a conference to unveil their election costings. Could these two events be seen as cynically scheduled, or coincidental? Perhaps. But this one, a massive moving billboard for Labor's candidate in Reid parked just metres from the hotel holding the Liberal launch, could hardly be seen as mere chance:

For some reason, a pair of very beautiful dogs met attendees as they arrived at the hotel. Bearing new coats with election themed puns, they were an unexpected and inexplicable addition to the day, but very welcomed by dog fans (i.e. this journalist):

Perhaps semantics, but while Labor called their campaign launch a "campaign launch", the Coalition called their campaign launch a "campaign rally". We're not sure why the difference, but it was splashed on walls all over the hotel:

A stack of new policy was announced during the rally, more than Shorten dropped during his own launch. Turnbull announced $192 million for mental health services and Headspace centres, a big investment in the Coalition's suicide prevention strategy. $26 million of that will be directed to 10 sites to trial "innovative approaches" of mental health services, such as increasing the use of digital technology. A further $24 million will add another eight suicide prevention trial sites through regional Australia, while funding was also guaranteed for Headspace centres, early youth psychosis services and $30 million for the trialling of new digital technologies to address mental health.

Besides the mental health-focused technology, the innovation-loving PM also announced cash to get our oldest and youngest citizens engaged with the digital world. There is $50 million to improve digital literacy among seniors, and $31 million to encourage women and girls into careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Older Australians will be trained how to use smart phones and tablets, grants will be given to community centres, libraries and aged care facilities to purchase new smart equipment, and new measures will be instituted to "ensure older Australians are safer online" -- presumably aiming to prevent the elderly being targeted by cyber crime and scams. At the other end of the spectrum, women and girls will be encouraged into the STEM sector through support for internships and career guidance.

Also announced was $64 million to crackdown on illegal firearms and criminal gangs, and $48 million for the Smith Family's "learning for life" program to help disadvantaged kids get through school. The Smith Family grants will help support children who can't afford to go on school excursions or supplies, as well as providing access to after-school programs on literacy and numeracy; while the law enforcement money will boost the capability of forensics, intelligence assets, counter-terrorism work and "covert online operation" of the federal police.

"Jobs and growth" has been an established, standard slogan pushed by basically every Liberal member in recent times. Today, we got a new slogan that saw "jobs and growth" demoted to the second line, and even a new idea pushed ahead of that: "stability".

As the world grapples with the Brexit decision, and its associated economic and geopolitical uncertainty, it seems the Liberals will be pushing their management credentials to the fore in the last week of this mammoth campaign.

In contrast to Shorten, who last week had dozens of his Labor MPs on the stage behind him and called almost all of them out by name, today was very much the Malcolm Turnbull show. Only Julie Bishop and Barnaby Joyce made it on stage, both in short speeches praising Turnbull as leader, while Turnbull did not mention any other cabinet colleagues. Despite praising his team's economic and border patrol policies, no mentions of treasurer Scott Morrison, finance minister Mathias Cormann nor immigration minister Peter Dutton. Despite fighting a double dissolution on industrial relations grounds, the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, there was no mention of employment minister Michaelia Cash. It was Malcolm in the middle.

And the elephant in the room, Tony Abbott. While former PM Kevin Rudd passed on attending Labor's campaign launch, and avoided supporting one of the men who helped knife him in Bill Shorten, Abbott arrived to sit and watch as the man who knifed HIM took the stage. Turnbull made a few brief mentions of his predecessor, and then quickly moved onto other business. Abbott sat quietly and watched, as cameras tried to catch any moment of fleeting expression wash over his face. Abbott managed to keep it pretty straight, denying cameras the shot they really wanted, but Tony's presence in the front was enough to get people talking anyway.

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