Liberal leader Alistair Coe has declared the ACT election a referendum on the cost of living, as the five-week campaign officially kicked off on Friday.
But Chief Minister and Labor leader Andrew Barr said the campaign would be fought on jobs, health and education, as he rejected Mr Coe's claims that hip pocket pressure on Canberra families had become "out of control" under his watch.
The leaders of the two major parties used the first official day of campaigning to draw the battle lines for the October 17 election, which will be contested amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
With Elections ACT predicting as many as 80 per cent of voters will cast their ballot early due to the pandemic, the parties are preparing to rush out policy announcements in time for the start of the polling period on September 28.
Speaking alongside Liberal deputy leader Nicole Lawder in the heart of Woden, which is expected to be one of the election's key battlegrounds, Mr Coe said cost of living would be defining issue for Canberra voters.
"This election that we are entering right now is going to be a referendum on the cost of living," Mr Coe said on Friday.
"The cost of living under the Labor-Greens government is out of control. So many Canberra families are doing it tough. There are so many families that are working harder and longer than ever before, but they are not getting ahead."
The Canberra Liberals have promised to freeze residential rates for a full term if elected, although that is their only policy announced so far which directly targets cost of living.
Mr Coe, who is seeking the end the Liberals' 19-year spell in opposition on October 17, said the party would announce more policies in the coming days and weeks, pointing out Friday was the first day of the campaign.
Asked what issues he believed would dominate the election debate, Mr Barr listed jobs, health and education.
"I think they have traditionally been issues that are front of mind for voters, and the jobs and economic situation will be more elevated as a result of the pandemic," he said.
Mr Barr said Labor was better placed to address cost-of-living pressure, which he argued was about more than household taxes and charges.
"Cost of living is also around your employment, how secure that is and your income levels. It's also about the provision of government services, free quality government services so that you don't have to pay privately to access them," he said.
"My central argument is that Labor will always be better on public education, health and jobs."
Mr Barr pointed to his promised $150 million household solar and batteries loan scheme as an example of how a re-elected Labor government would ease cost of living pressure, while tackling climate change.