A party promise pandemonium

Graphic by Paul Clarke.

In the wake of the first leaders’ debate in Perth on Monday night, election campaign funding and promises have started to increase.

Both Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten have been out in force this week campaigning and vying for the keys to The Lodge.

While they both disagree on how to run the country, there’s something they do agree on: the promise of money.

Since January, the LNP has pledged $56 billion in funding and investment in a potential third term of government, while the ALP trails close behind with a pledge of $55 billion to date according to The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

In the 18 weeks since the New Year, party funding to the election cause has averaged just over $3 billion per week.

However, three full days in to the new week and the ALP has blown that figure out of the water, pledging just over $4 billion to new promises since Monday.

The LNP are on track to beat the average too, having pledged just under $2.5 billion this week.

The LNP also reaffirmed this week their pledge to spend $200 billion on defence purposes in the next decade if it is returned to government.

Murdoch University political scientist Dr Ian Cook acknowledged the significance of the sums but says that it is nothing new.

“The general strategy is you try to have announcements to make throughout the campaign. It is a normal part of their strategy,” he said.

“It’s not unusual in that broader sense. They’re big numbers.”

As Perth played host to the first leaders’ debate, WA voters benefited too with a series of new election promises this week aimed directly at WA.

Could young Australians be swayed by funding for a cause important to them? Video by Paul Clarke.

The LNP this week pledged up to $1 billion to build three naval vessels in Henderson, as well as $6.5 million to the Choices Program WA and $16.25 million to a new WA state football centre.

The ALP followed a similar strategy with $115 million dedicated to a WA defence infrastructure program, $20.9 million for WA TAFE programs and $18 million for a Kalamunda sports centre upgrade.

In addition to these the ALP also pledged $2 million to the 2019 WA Telethon and a plan for future mining investment nationwide to the sum of $75 million.

The biggest election drawcard in WA for several years has been the GST, which Dr Cook believed was an important aspect of high overall election expenditure since January.

“I guess part of what’s been going on, particularly here in WA, is the GST,” he said.

“The Liberals were trying to convince WA that the GST would be fixed and some of that extra expenditure would be in order to fix that.

“Labor was drawn in to match the government to do that.

“It’s difficult not to spend money in an election. You need to draw people in. You bring them in with new promises, and to do that you’ve got to spend money.”

Despite the big talk and bigger promises, Dr Cook was sceptical about the the idea that big spending could sway the final vote.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is a lot of pre-polling and a lot of people saying that they’ve already made up their mind … effectively that they want to change government.

“That makes it extremely difficult for the Liberal-National Government because if people are already set, it’s difficult to changes people’s minds.”