Opinion

How desperate is Labor to win this week’s by-election in Dunkley?

Of course, any political party badly wants to win an election — they wouldn’t be in it, if they didn’t. But some contests are vastly more important than others. Dunkley is critical to Labor’s, not to mention Anthony Albanese’s, survival beyond a single term. After all, it was a safe Labor seat, and, despite Albanese’s lying claims to the contrary, should normally be an easy win for the government.

But there’s a growing sense that, while Labor probably will win, it’ll be a near-run thing. An expected swing of 5+% won’t be enough to unseat Labor in Dunkley, but, repeated across the nation, it would lose them a swathe of seats and see them out of government.

Should Labor actually lose, it’ll bring them within one seat of minority government.

Either way, it’ll be seen as a dire judgement on the government’s, and the Prime Minister’s, performance. Not for nothing is it being called a “a one-seat referendum on his integrity”.

No wonder they’re going to such extraordinary lengths to keep their thumbs on the electoral scale. Including delaying a rise in health insurance premiums.

The nation’s biggest health insurers fear Labor is delaying a decision on how much to increase premiums for millions of Australians in order to avoid a cost-of-living backlash before the crucial Dunkley by-election on Saturday.

The Australian has spoken to six of the nation’s largest funds who say it is the longest wait on a premiums call from a government in 15 years, and they do not have enough time to notify their customers of any price increases if Health Minister Mark Butler does not make a decision this week.

With the cost of living being the hottest-button issue of this campaign, and with Dunkley’s demographics shifting to more aspirational voters, health insurance premiums are likely a big deal for voters. According to Coalition figures, nearly half of the voters in Dunkley have private health insurance. Yet another premium rise, on the eve of the election, would torpedo Labor’s claims to be dealing with the cost of living crisis.

Especially when no one seems to be buying Albanese’s narrative on tax cuts.

Mr Albanese told caucus “there are still people out there who do not know about the tax cuts”. His comments came after The Australian published an exclusive Newspoll on Monday revealing only a negligible bump in support for Labor despite claims its revised tax cut policy would benefit millions of Australians during a cost-of-living crisis.

The latest poll showed the government failing to improve its position overall since December, with no apparent boost from last month’s tax cut announcement, which sought to redistribute income tax cuts for higher-income earners to lower and middle-income earners.

In the last caucus before the by-election, Mr Albanese accused the opposition of “not asking about the tax cuts” in parliament, because the party did not want attention turned on its own plans.

The Australian

Well, strike me pink: the opposition doesn’t want to hand a bunch of Dorothy Dixers to a desperate PM? I never.

Especially when Albanese appears to have shot down his claims to “integrity”, for little to no gain.

Evidence is mounting that Anthony Albanese’s tax cuts decision is doing Labor’s chances more harm than good only three days out from the Dunkley by-election, which the policy change was designed to win.
As the Prime Minister furiously campaigns for Saturday’s by-election in the safe Melbourne seat, polls are continuing to find that not only is there no bounce for Labor from the tax cuts but also there is damage to Albanese’s integrity and credibility […]

the ALP primary vote has fallen back to or below the level it was at the election; for the first time, the Coalition is ahead in some polls on a two-party-­preferred basis and the Coalition’s primary support is at or above what it was at the election.

Worse for Labor is the hit Albanese is taking to his credibility and integrity after breaking his election promise not to change the stage three tax cuts and being branded “the liar in The Lodge”.

The Australian

Certainly, no one’s buying his “I’m a man of my word” line, any more.

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...