An unusually candid Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles offered the best commentary on the May 21 election on Sunday when he said politicians were living in a post-opinion-poll world and that many in the ALP still had PTSD after 2019.
"It's going to be a close election," he said. "It is there to be won, but it can be lost."
That was clearly evident when, at 11.30am, a confident-looking Scott Morrison walked out of his office to confirm the election would be held just under six weeks from now.
Mr Morrison, the first Prime Minister to serve a full term since John Howard, tried to move the emphasis from himself to the voters and reminded them that despite having presided over three of the most tumultuous years in Australia's recent history, the Coalition has a good tale to tell.
He stressed the near record low unemployment figure, the unexpected strength of the resource-fuelled budget recovery, the magnitude of the broader economic recovery, the success of JobKeeper, the low COVID death rate, the world-leading vaccination rate and the retention of Australia's AAA credit rating.
He also argued Mr Albanese, a factional leader in the Labor left who has worked hard to recast himself as a moderate, was an unknown quantity and that the Opposition Leader's recent announcements have come up short on the level of detail voters expect during an election campaign.
The same was true of Mr Marles when he was interviewed ahead of the PM's announcement. The Deputy Opposition Leader would not commit Labor to maintaining the tax cap. He was also unable to say how an Albanese government would fund the up to $4 billion a year the promised aged care wage rises would cost and whether or not the party was committed to a further increase to the JobSeeker payment (aka Newstart).
"We will put all our costings out there before the election," he said.
And, in an unfortunate juxtaposition of optics, while Mr Marles was doing the hard yards and Mr Morrison was doing his best to look suitably presidential, Mr Albanese was petting chickens, puppies and kid goats at the Royal Easter Show. When he fronted the cameras just after 2pm Mr Albanese said that if Labor won "we will be the most experienced incoming Labor government in history". He also referenced climate change policy, an issue the PM barely touched on in his address.
While history has shown there is nothing like calling the election to firm up voting intentions, there are a lot of variables in play this time around. They include the independents backed by Simon Holmes à Court's Climate 200 group who are campaigning on a mix of Greens and Labor policies in mainly inner city and exclusively LNP electorates and Clive Palmer's United Australia Party.
If, as some predict, this does go down to the wire there is every chance either UAP preferences or the votes of Climate 200 sponsored cross-benchers could determine who wins government.
As for the polls themselves, while Labor has a clear lead on the two-party preferred vote Mr Morrison recently clawed back a one point lead over Mr Albanese as preferred prime minister. And, perhaps more significantly, 15 per cent of respondents on this question were still undecided last week. That's a lot of people who could swing either way.
Mr Morrison doesn't have to win the majority vote to stay in the Lodge. His challenge is to hold on to the requisite 76 seats and hopefully pick up a few more.
While that is not necessarily impossible, the hardest task the Liberals have is to present a united front for the next 40 days after the chaos of recent weeks.
Disunity is death.
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