Please Enjoy This Wood Carving Of Scott Morrison's Face And Other Tales From The Campaign Trail

    We've got 16 days to go, come on everyone — we can do this.

    What you need to know:

    - Almost 400,000 people have already voted ahead of the May 18 election

    - Warringah candidates Tony Abbott and Zali Steggall took part in a town hall debate on Sky News

    - Posters of Abbott featuring an offensive word have been removed from the electorate; Steggall has rejected the suggestion they had anything to do with her campaign

    - Questions are continuing to be asked about a number of candidates following Wednesday's resignations and apologies

    - The cost of Labor's climate change policy continues to attract significant scrutiny following new disputed modelling

    - The Coalition is pledging to boost funding for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to lower the benchmark for free medicines

    Hello and welcome to another scintillating day on the election campaign. We're all here to have a go, get a go, and then go away, curl up and try and forget any of this ever happened. But we've still got 16 days left, so deep breaths everyone — here's what's going on today.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    First things first — almost 400,000 people have already voted. So that's a hell of a lot of people who don't need to read this article. Well done them.

    About 375,000 people have cast a pre-poll vote after three days of early voting, running at approx 125,000 votes per day so far. This compares to a total of 225,000 votes at the same stage of the 2016 federal election. #ausvotes #auspol

    The big news from yesterday was the avalanche of candidates coming unstuck due to their offensive online comments.

    The whoops-we-forgot-to-vet-all-the-candidates-properly stage of the campaign is always a treat.

    The Liberals lost two candidates over anti-Muslim and homophobic comments. Both will remain on the ballot papers though due to how close we are to the election.

    If only the Liberals vetted their candidates as thoroughly as they vet people attending the Prime Minister’s campaign forums

    Labor reckons there are clouds over other candidates and Jessica Whelan, the Liberal candidate in Lyons, has denied making anti-Muslim comments on Facebook — claiming they may have been doctored.

    Right to be a bigot ? Turns out not for candidates. But now Liberal Jessica Whelan says she’s the victim of faked Facebook posts she didn’t make as candidate body count grows

    A spokesman for Whelan told The Mercury: "The comment on the post about 'feminists in America' appears to be have been digitally manipulated.

    "Ms Whelan strenuously denies making this comment. We will be referring it to the relevant authorities."

    The Mercury reported it presented the Liberal Party with comments purportedly made by Whelan.

    "One said women who supported Islam should be mutilated and sold as slaves," the newspaper said. "Another post attributed to Ms Whelan included a comment that they (Muslims) should not be allowed to live in Australia."

    The issue was raised in the Tasmanian parliament.

    Premier Will Hodgman says there's "no doubt" if Ms Whelan made those comments she should be disendorsed. #politas #AusVotes2019

    The prime minister appeared to unfortunately miss his chance chance for a photo-op.

    PM’s near miss with his Lyons candidate who is in strife over social media posts

    That's the Liberal Party state director driving Lyons candidate Jessica Whelan away from media at Agfest #politas #AusVotes2019

    Labor is facing its own dilemma over candidates after failing to remove a candidate who made rape jokes online.

    Labor candidate for Melbourne Luke Creasey has been forced to apologise over rape jokes and pornographic material shared on his Facebook page.

    Today there was new focus on Luke Creasey's online posts after the Herald Sun reported he had made lewd jokes about Tony Abbott and the female anatomy.

    Exclusive: Labor’s candidate for Melbourne Luke Creasey made lewd jokes about Tony Abbott and a sex act and poked fun at parts of the female anatomy #AusVotes19

    The Australian also reported he was facing questions over his eligibility to sit in parliament.

    EXCLUSIVE - Questions raised over embattled Labor Melbourne candidate's Section 44 status

    Labor leader Bill Shorten appeared on 7.30 last night and again faced questions over the party's franking credits policy.

    "When you get an income tax credit, when you haven't paid income tax - you're already on the public purse." @BillShortenMP defends @AustralianLabor's #frankingcredits policy. #abc730 #auspol #Ausvotes2019

    Shorten is still facing considerable heat on his climate change policy as well.

    Economist Brian Fisher has claimed Labor's policy could cause anywhere between $260 billion and $540 billion in losses to Gross National Product, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

    Labor has strongly disputed these figures but Shorten has repeatedly refused to put a figure on how much Labor's new 45% target will cost.

    "This is utterly rubbish and it is utterly at odds with every other piece of analysis of this policy," Labor's climate change spokesman Mark Butler told the ABC on Thursday.

    Energy minister Angus Taylor said: "What's clear in all of these scenarios is very big impacts, and intuitively that makes sense. If you want to take 45% of the emissions out of the economy in just over 10 years, it is going to have very significant costs."

    There is continuing debate over international carbon permits as a means to ease the impact of the policy and whether the Greens will support them.

    Shorten says it is impossible to put a figure on his policy, but the Coalition very much wants one, especially with this new contested modelling.

    With regards to its own spending, today it is pledging to boost funding for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to lower the benchmark for free medicines.

    Prime minister Scott Morrison later declared: "We [the Coalition] have taken action on climate change. And we will continue to take action on climate change.

    "The question is whether you have a reckless target of 45%, as the Labor Party is proposing, where he's [Shorten] forcing people to choose between the economy and the environment.

    "Or whether you have a responsible target that we have — an achievable target — with the programs to support it."

    He added: "The only person, frankly, who's trying to sell a pair of jousting sticks to the Australian people at this election is Bill Shorten. The only difference is, at least the guy selling the jousting sticks would tell you what the price was."

    Morrison also said Australia was one of the oldest democracies in the world.

    There was a lot going on.

    Economist Brian Fisher's house has been egged in the wake of the new modelling he's released on the cost of Labor's climate policy #auspol

    Bill Shorten says Brian Fisher's modelling reminds him of the scientists that used to be rolled out by tobacco companies to say smoking was healthy. He says it should be filed under "P for propaganda". He asks who funded the report.

    Remember when Liberal MP Angus Taylor accidentally praised himself on Facebook? What a time that was.


    Well for some reason, Shorten was asked about it today.

    Bill Shorten asked about Angus Taylor giving himself a big pat on the back: "I suppose the theory would be that if you don't like yourself, why should anyone else?" "He looked in the mirror and said: Damn, you're a handsome sort of rooster, aren't ya?" #auspol #AusVotes19

    And then apparently couldn't stop talking about roosters.

    Bill Shorten just referred to the coalition government as "cheeky little roosters", taking today's rooster count to two. #auspol #AusVotes19

    Warringah candidates Tony Abbott and Zali Steggall faced off in a town hall debate. This morning posters of Abbott with an offensive word written on them were removed from the electorate.

    Posters of Tony Abbott with an offensive word written on his forehead are being taken down from a busy Sydney road, as police investigate.

    Steggall has rejected the suggestion they had anything to do with her campaign. Abbott's supporters were out in force ahead of today's debate.

    A lot of Tony Abbott supporters here for the Sky News debate, can't say it's surprising, the event is being held at the surf club where he is a volunteer in Queenscliff #auspol #WarringahVotes #ausvotes19

    As were the protesters.

    Protestors await Tony Abbott ahead of the first debate between the former PM and Zali Steggall #auspol #ausvotes @10Daily @10NewsFirstSyd

    The health minister and shadow minister for health also took part in a debate at the National Press Club. So much debating, still so many days to go.

    Today at 12.30pm @PressClubAust A debate on health policy between @GregHuntMP + @CatherineKingMP Watch via @abcnews #AusVotes19

    Elsewhere, Kevin Rudd has been out and about.

    Always great to have you in town @MrKRudd. Thanks for stopping by to talk with voters alongside @chrisgambian and I about what Labor is doing for Hurstville and for the local community.

    Eric Abetz gave the prime minister a wood carving of his face. As you do.

    Eric Abetz has prevented the PM with a personalised wood carving

    LOOK. AT. IT.

    Politicians met a cat.

    Cat in a pram.. Shorten and Plibersek meeting new friends at Tassie’s AgFest #AusVotes2019 #auspol

    Some paid for their beer, apparently some didn't.

    The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader both visited Agfest in Tasmania today. At the bar the guy pouring the beers says to Bill Shorten, "At least you paid Scomo didn't pay."

    Oh, I almost forgot, Liberal member Craig Kelly has denied threatening to punch someone dressed as a dinosaur.

    Liberal MP Craig Kelly denies threatening to punch a climate change activist dressed up as a dinosaur. "I may have gesticulated and pointed but raising my fist? No." Mr Kelly did not deny telling the man to "f--- off". #auspol #AusVotes19

    And have a look at this amazing video compiled by The Guardian showing United Australia Party candidates all reading from the same script.

    View this video on YouTube

    What a day. In the words of Peter Kay: "Have it!"

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Richard James at

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