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Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to face people's forum in Brisbane on Wednesday
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed he will participate alongside Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in a people's forum on Wednesday night in Brisbane. Sky News political editor David Speers will moderate the event, which will be available for live broadcast by all media. Earlier today Mr Rudd said he would prefer to debate Mr Abbott on a free-to-air network that all Australians have access to, but added I will, of course, debate Mr Abbott whenever and wherever there is an opportunity.
Coalition paid parental leave policy to start mid-2015, 'fully funded', Abbott says
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has formally announced his signature paid parental leave policy, saying he has a convert's zeal for the scheme. Mr Abbott revealed the 26 week replacement wage scheme was fully costed and fully funded at around $5.5 billion a year from July 1, 2015. Women earning up to $150,000 a year will be paid their full wage for the period of leave, including superannuation. Mr Abbott says Liberal and National party MPs have had a very full debate about the policy, and now overwhelmingly support it.
Election 2013 Issues: How we live and die
Welcome to the The Conversation’s Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as the nation heads to the polls. Today, we examine the issue of health care, from service reform and hospitals, to balancing the budget, and keeping Australians healthy.
Julian Burnside: Temporary protection visas won't work
The Coalition has announced that they would reintroduce temporary protection visas (TPVs) if elected to government. It comes as part of their package of measures designed to deter asylum seekers from asking us for help.
TPVs were first suggested by Pauline Hanson in 1996. Her proposal was criticised by Philip Ruddock as “unconscionable”. Three years later, TPVs were introduced by the Howard Government; Ruddock was immigration minister.
TPVs suffer from a couple of serious vices: not least that they are likely to cause more deaths at sea – something both major parties claim to be concerned about.
Refugees to be denied permanent residency under Coalition plan to 'determine who comes here'
Tony Abbott declared that this is our country and we determine who comes here as he unveiled sweeping plans to fast-track the deportation of failed asylum seekers. Under the Coalition's policy, around 30,000 people currently waiting for their refugee claims to be finalised in Australia would be denied permanent residency. Those who are deemed to be refugees would instead be placed on temporary protection visas (TPVs), while those whose claims are rejected would be denied the right to appeal.
Desmond Manderson: Groundhog day - why the asylum problem is like the drug problem

"Groundhog day: why the asylum problem is like the drug problem" #ausvotes #auspol

What does Australia’s handling of asylum seekers have in common with our approach to illicit drugs? Quite a lot, writes Desmond Manderson. In the following 10,000 word essay, he argues we should abandon the zero tolerance approach and focus on harm reduction. This piece was first published in the Griffith Review and has been reprinted with permission.
Dennis Altman: Why Adam Bandt and Melbourne are unique
I should acknowledge that I am a strong supporter of Bandt, but that is based on his record over the past three years, and a dislike for the venom with which the Greens have been attacked by both sides when they, along with Oakeshott and Windsor, have been by far the most consistent politicians over the period of the Gillard/Rudd government.
In the unusual circumstances of the past three years, there were unique opportunities for minor party members and independents to establish themselves as national figures. As the one Green in the House, Bandt sometimes found himself in lonely opposition against virtually the entire rest of the Parliament. He handled this with grace, and, like Oakeshott, Windsor and Wilkie, used his position to both raise national issues and articulate the interests of his electorate.
In the end, Bandt needs the votes of a number of normal Liberal voters, even if these come in the form of second preferences. He is trying for an alliance of inner-city trendies, doctors' wives and public housing tenants that he might just pull off.
Jonathan Green: Our future just a footnote in this trivialised election
I'm not sure why we should have imagined it might be any different, a small triumph of hope over repeated experience perhaps.
But answer this: have you ever endured anything so demeaning, patronising, condescending, cynically manipulative, mendacious, superficial, fatuous, rat cunning, trivialised or just plain false as the process of politics, now thrown at you live, minute by minute, through the course of this campaign?
Day by grinding day the major figures trot out the same evasive half-truths and hearty hail-fellow-well-met palm-offs ... the sum of it hard to watch without a growing sense of complete letdown and dislocation. How can this be what it is: the open and public contest to claim the right to represent us. To form a government. To run our country.
Why in that context can we not be given the benefit of a candidate's honest view? Why do we not have the right, through a political media that ought also to be at least nominally acting in our collective interest, to push for hard answers and firm commitments on the issues that matter?
You thought the campaign of 2010 was a low point ... from here it looks like a benchmarking exercise; a slough of inconsequentiality that simply set the standard.
Lisa Caripis: Comparing the parties' climate change and renewables policies
Serious discussion of climate change policy has been noticeably absent this election campaign – while the issue was allotted a portion of the first leaders' debate, little time was devoted to it. Nonetheless, there are significant differences in the climate change and renewable energy policies of the ALP, Coalition and Greens. The major differences between the parties are outlined below.
Former public servants to verify Coalition's election costings
The Coalition has recruited three respected economists to oversee its policy costings and verify the figures are correct. Former Treasury official Geoff Carmody, ex-Queensland auditor-general Len Scanlan and former head of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Peter Shergold have been studying the Coalition's election promises. Joe Hockey says the Opposition is absolutely sure that not only our numbers stack up, but our policies are deliverable. But Treasurer Chris Bowen says a panel is no substitute for submitting policies to Treasury for costing.
Barrie Cassidy: This election is rich in trivia but not much else
The country has been in campaign mode for so long that perhaps voters barely noticed the difference when Kevin Rudd formalised the whole thing. As a consequence, maybe this campaign had run its race before it started.
If that's the case, then Tony Abbott will be the beneficiary.
To this point, Abbott is the one looking ebullient and confident, seemingly enjoying every moment of the campaign, while Rudd seems flat in his daily interviews, as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Neither leader, it seems, thought he needed to go out and set an aggressive agenda.
It looks as if Rudd was relying on Abbott's unpopularity, his lack of vision and detail, and his propensity to screw up; while Abbott was happy to wait until Rudd's past caught up with him.
Hopefully, there is more to it than that. There are still three weeks to go.
Plenty of time for the trivia to give way to the substance. But it won't if the substance remains elusive.
Bernard Keane: Rudd needs another 2%, and he’s struggling to find it
Kevin Rudd’s campaign, it appears, is in trouble. The polls are slowly drifting away from Labor. There are reports of tensions between campaign HQ and the Rudd team on the road. The Coalition campaign is slipping back into arrogance, almost mocking calls for the release of their policy costings.
Part of this, however, is the strange shift in expectations since Rudd was restored to the Labor leadership. Before his restoration, I never spoke to a single Labor MP who claimed that Rudd could win the election. What they were convinced of was that Julia Gillard was going to lead them to a catastrophic defeat, while Rudd would be likely to limit the damage. The idea of Rudd winning was a long shot, something that might have been a possibility, but not one to count on.
The media narrative, however, is that Rudd is stuffing up his chances of winning, that his alleged popularity isn’t translating into votes, that his return was just a “sugar hit”.
David Marr: Election debate - blather, evasion, and a pathetic lack of answers
That was a disgrace. One of these men is going to be our prime minister on 8 September and neither had a fresh policy, a new idea or a new line to offer. Everything has been heard before. Even the evasions were familiar. Imagine three more years of these men talking at each other.
The win or lose question between now and polling day may be this: which of these two can you still bear to listen to when you know they're both talking blather? My answer is Tony Abbott.
He pays exaggerated attention. He's crisp. Even though his answer isn't an answer, at some point he stops. With Kevin Rudd, that's touch and go. More than once last night the Press Club, indeed the nation, was hanging on the bell.
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