Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has a busy day of campaigning ahead in north Queensland, announcing a $100 million plan to help grow regional airports. Picture: AAP
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has a busy day of campaigning ahead in north Queensland, announcing a $100 million plan to help grow regional airports. Picture: AAP

Labor’s $140m cash splash as PM faces ‘watergate’ heat

Bill Shorten's campaign will venture to north Queensland today as he prepares to blitz the battleground state's most marginal seats.

The Opposition Leader will this morning fly to the Cairns-based electorate of Leichhardt to unveil a multimillion-dollar package to improve tourism opportunities in the regions.

It will include $100 million to help grow regional airports, as well as $40 million to improve infrastructure around existing regional tourist attractions.

Mr Shorten is expected to spend the next few days in the state's north, visiting crucial electorates that could hold the path to victory for Labor in the May 18 poll.

 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, right, with his mother-in-law former Governor-general Quentin Bryce on Easter Sunday. Picture Kym Smith
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, right, with his mother-in-law former Governor-general Quentin Bryce on Easter Sunday. Picture Kym Smith

 

This includes LNP MP George Christensen's seat of Dawson, which he holds with a slim margin of 3.3 per cent.

Labor will also want to sandbag the Townsville-based electorate of Herbert, the most marginal in the country, held by Cathy O'Toole with a margin of just 37 votes.

The Adani coal mine is expected to be a major issue during Mr Shorten's visit to Queensland, with Greens founder Bob Brown also in the state to lead a convoy against the job creating project.

It comes after an Easter weekend reset for Mr Shorten, who last week struggled to answer questions about his climate change and superannuation policies.

Scott Morrison is also expected to face more questions over the coalition's handling of the Murray-Darling Basin as the leaders return to the campaign trail after the Easter truce.

Labor is trying to flush out more details of an $80 million water purchase in 2017, the largest on record, amid growing calls for a royal commission into the river system.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is campaigning in Melbourne today. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is campaigning in Melbourne today. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

 

The government came under fire over the taxpayer-funded payment because the small organisation was given the lump sum without a competitive tender process.

Mr Morrison is returning to Victoria for the second time in a week, as the coalition looks to save crucial seats in the battleground state. He has spent much of the campaign talking up the coalition's economic management credentials, linking the state of the budget to the ability to provide money for education and health.

But the prime minister's camp is remaining tight-lipped about its plans for Monday as it aims to avoid protesters or other awkward interruptions on the campaign trail.

The government has fended off questions about the $80 million water buyback, arguing there has already been a Senate inquiry into the matter and the government had provided documents regarding those transactions. The Greens want Labor to back a royal commission into the purchase if Mr Shorten becomes prime minister after the May 18 election.


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