Prime Minister Scott Morrison's bid to make Opposition Leader Bill Shorten the "issue" during the federal election campaign echoes Paul Keating's defeat of John Hewson in 1993, a leading academic says.
Flinders University's political analyst Haydon Manning says "fear and loathing" factors work in elections but being the frontrunner Mr Shorten has also invited serious scrutiny.
"During the 1993 election campaign incumbent Labor PM, Paul Keating made the opposition the issue," Prof Manning said.
"Mr Morrison's aims to do the same with his daily mocking of Mr Shorten's policies and his character.
"The fear and loathing factors work in election campaigns, worldwide, and expect plenty more to come."
In 1993 Dr Hewson offered a big policy agenda called Fightback and it initially appealed, with the opinion polls reflecting voter approval.
"But during the intense cut and thrust of a campaign Keating managed to paint his opponent as a radical and not worth the risk," Prof Manning said.
"Mr Morrison is trying to do much the same as he paints Mr Shorten as the most left-wing Labor leader in decades."
Prof Manning said it had also been interesting to see Mr Shorten struggle in the first week of the campaign as Labor's policies were questioned more intensely.
"He looked dazzled trying to explain the actual cost to the economy, and voters' hip pockets, of his plan to reduce the nation's emissions by 50 per cent over the next decade.
"Coupled to his equivocating over how a Labor government might view future taxes on superannuation and the impact on the housing market of changes to negative gearing suggests that, not unlike 1993, this election campaign is one of the more interesting to follow."
Australian Associated Press