If the Prime Minister picks May as the date for the next election Australians are going to have to endure a government and an opposition in full-on campaign mode for the best part of six months.
Even if, by some miracle, the polls start to close in his favour and he decides to go to the people in March we are still looking at four months of campaigning which will exhaust the candidates and bore a lot of voters silly.
It also means that during the period in which it is hoped the economy will recover, Omicron works itself out and (hopefully) all the state and territory borders reopen, the government and the opposition will be obsessed with scoring political points. That does not bode well for good governance.
While Labor's release of its environmental policy followed by an unofficial campaign launch on Sunday, which was trumped in the media stakes by the PM's "hot lap" of Bathurst and Forbes, proved it was game on, the real clue came earlier in the week.
That was when millions of voters received a letter signed by the Prime Minister, Health Minister Greg Hunt and, remarkably, by the Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly urging them to get their COVID-19 booster shot.
"We made the sacrifices and followed the medical advice," the letter said. "Australia now has one of the lowest number of cases per head of population in the world and our health response has saved over 30,000 lives. Thanks to high vaccination rates, we are now reopening, our economy is strongly re-emerging, and people can get back to seeing family, travelling and living a more normal life".
That sounds more like an advertisement for a government campaigning on economic management and its COVID-19 response than a public health announcement.
The LNP's willingness to use publicly funded "government" announcements to win hearts and minds to its cause is a clear sign little or nothing is going to be off limits.
That is because, on paper at least, it is going into 2022 as the underdog. The last few weeks have been a high speed train wreck with fresh crises arising by the day. For the first time since March 2020, Anthony Albanese has achieved a higher net approval rating of minus six to the Prime Minister's minus eight in a Newspoll.
But, more significantly, while 47 per cent of respondents said they thought Labor would win the next election compared to 37 per cent who think the LNP will get up, the ALP has not been able to improve on its six point lead in the two party preferred vote in the last month.
That is astounding given the amount of damage the Coalition has inflicted on itself over that period. A strong indictment of Labor's small target strategy, this failure to gain traction is probably responsible for the decision to start rolling policies out up to six months before the poll.
While Mr Albanese is taking a risk in going so early he really doesn't have a choice. March is still on the table and there is a limit to how long you can keep on saying "we'll release our policies soon".
That said, while it is good to see Labor inject fresh ideas - including an alternative climate strategy and a welcome commitment to skills development - into the national debate, the LNP has a much simpler message: "We're better economic managers than Labor, we handled COVID-19 better than most governments, and you can't trust Labor on climate".
Mr Morrison's appearance at Bathurst was all about wooing the masses. Mr Albanese is focusing on policy.
The Coalition is, for both good and ill, a known quantity. Labor's 2022 election policies have until now, been a "riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma".
That has to change.
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