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Federal Election Campaign: Day 13

Day 13 of the election campaign and oh my goodness that #watergate issue has become quite a big deal! I present to you, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, in one of the amazing train-wreck interviews of all time.

In a nutshell the government has bought questionable water from a firm who shares surprisingly went up very fast, and who donated to the Liberal Party and even included the energy minister, Angus Taylor.

He claimed that he didn't know much about it... Except today it was revealed that he really, really did.

The Prime Minister tried to protect his wayward former minister, but that didn't work out so well. Too many people remember that Barnaby Joyce acknowledged all responsibility as minister.

Labor is calling for a tabling of unredacted documentation; the Greens and Centre Alliance are calling for a Royal Commisison (and Labor is not ruling that out). Agriculture and water minister David Littleproud is now in damage control, writing to the auditor general, Grant Hehir, to audit water buybacks to 2008. That might take a while, of course.

For their own part, the LNP have continued to fire up a scare campaign that Labor is going to re-introduce Death Duties, comparing it to Gillard's comment that there would be no carbon tax. They ask rhetorically, "Can you trust Labor on taxes?", which has lead social media into a feeding frenzy about the litany of "no cuts to education, healthcare, the abc, sbc, & etc", the size of the government debt, economic performance, tax share as a percentage of GDP Peta Credlin admitting that it wasn't a tax etc

In a nutshell, there is a lot of angry keyboard warriors at there at the moment. I might even put myself in that category!

But scandals and nonsense aside there have been some policy announcements today:

* Labor has promised to repurpose $1.5bn out of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif) as part of a development policy for "gas projects of national significance". The Lock the Gate Alliance, the group of conservationists and farmers,, is not happy, arguing that it will lead to coal seam gas and fracking. Labor says the NT’s Beetaloo Basin could provide enough gas to supply Australia’s domestic market for up to 400 years.

* Labor has also announced limits on skilled worker visas so they address genuine skill shortages (about 80% of temporary worker visas are in occupations without shortages), but will also lift the minimum pay rate for foreign workers on temporary skilled visas. The idea is to prevent 457-visa rorts - but of course does come into conflict with the principles of an increasingly free movement of labour.

* Labor backed a ban on gay conversion therapy, working through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) (the Prime Minister says he'll leave it to the States.. Does he feel the same way about vaccination policy too?). Labor also announced a dedicated LGBTI human rights commisioner, $10 million in HIV funding, and fixing federal laws which allows for discrimination against trans and intersex employees.

* Finally, The LNP, through Greg Hunt, has announced $2m to the National LGBTI Health Alliance over two years for the peer support telephone and online support service QLife because demand keeps increasing.

Lev Lafayette, April 23

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