PM, return of the Albanians after the Easter break

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will head to Western Australia, while Labor leader Anthony Albanese will kick off campaign day in Brisbane as the federal election campaign returns to full swing.

Monday marks a campaign surge after an Easter break, with the coalition announcing a price cap increase for its home guarantee scheme.

First-time homeowners who can’t come up with the minimum 20 percent deposit on their own will be able to get a government-funded guarantee on homes valued up to $150,000 more than the current limit starting July 1.

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In capital cities and regional centers, the existing limit will increase by $100,000, with hopeful NSW homeowners, for example, able to set their sights on a $900,000 home in Sydney in FY2022-23, at compared to $800,000 in 2021-22. The cap will increase by $150,000 in other parts of the state.

Albanese will start in Brisbane on Monday as he tours the fringe seats of Queensland where Labor hopes to include the Sunshine State as a key part of their agenda if elected.

Labor also announces that they will examine how to expand the reach of the Double J radio station in the bush.

The move is a reaction to what the party says are calls from the industry to help improve access to broadcasts in regional areas and broaden the audience of emerging Australian artists.

Albanese, a radio DJ in his youth, made the announcement ahead of a Sunday night appearance at the Bluesfest music festival alongside rock legend Jimmy Barnes.

New polls show Morrison in the lead as the preferred prime ministerial choice with 38 percent to Albanese’s 30 percent, a sharp turnaround from the Labor leader’s 37-36 margin two weeks ago.

The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Resolve Strategic poll also showed the Labor primary vote down four points to 34 per cent, with the coalition down 35 per cent.

The figures follow an Easter Sunday in which Morrison suggested that a taxpayer-funded settlement to a former staff member of embattled MP Alan Tudge was unrelated to allegations of abuse he had made against Tudge.

Morrison stayed away from the process on Easter Sunday after former employee Rachelle Miller asked that details of her $500,000 payment be made public.

The payment was believed to be related to Ms. Miller’s claims that Mr. Tudge was emotionally, and on one occasion physically, abusive to her.

Tudge, who stepped down as education minister when the allegations surfaced, denied them. The prime minister has not ruled out that the deputy return to his post.

Morrison said the payment was not related to Tudge, saying the Finance Department, which issues the payment, would only tell him if it was a minister.

“I can absolutely assure you that no such referral has been made to me,” Morrison said.

Morrison also announced his replacement for outgoing Health Minister Greg Hunt and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston named heir apparent if the coalition wins the May 21 election.

Labor pounced on Mr Morrison’s choice, pointing to Senator Ruston’s old comments that Medicare was “not sustainable”, and Mr Albanese warning of possible cuts to the plan.

Senator Ruston said her comments date back to 2014 and that the administration had been “clear” since that it would not cut Medicare funding.

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Peter Fray

Peter Fray
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