Labor tipped for narrow election victory
AUSTRALIA is expected to get its sixth prime minister in nine years, with polls pointing to a win for Anthony Albanese’s Labor team.
When polls open at 8am today (Saturday, May 21), ballots will be cast for 1203 candidates across the 151 seats in the House of Representatives.
As well, 421 Senate candidates are vying for 40 seats across the states and territories.
When 6pm rolls around, the ballots of more than 17 million voters will start to be counted, including those of more than five million people who voted early.
Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National government heads into the election holding 75 seats, having lost the WA seat of Stirling in a redistribution.
Labor starts with 68 seats, plus notionally the new Victorian seat of Hawke.
The major parties will need 76 seats for a majority in the lower house.
Opinion polls are averaging 53.5 per cent to Labor on a two-party preferred basis, according to The Poll Bludger website, which if reflected at the ballot box would result in 83 seats for the ALP.
The latest Newspoll, published in the Australian last night, shows Labor holding a 53-47 lead. That’s despite a two-point drop in the party’s primary vote to 36 per cent.
Mr Morrison, who campaigned in Perth yesterday (Friday, May 20), said the election would be close.
“Australians weigh up their decision very, very carefully,” the Liberal leader said.
“What Australians will be wanting to know is what certainty and security can they have going forward for them and their families?”
Mr Albanese – who campaigned in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria yesterday – said many people who had voted Liberal all their lives were now walking away from the party.
“There’s three more years of the same, or there’s myself, who wants to bring the country together, who wants to be inclusive, who wants to end the division,” Mr Albanese said.
The campaign has focused on the issues of cost of living, economic management, national security, a federal integrity commission, climate and equality and safety for women.
Mr Albanese stumbled on economic questions in the first week of the campaign, playing into the hands of the Coalition’s attack over his inexperience.
Mr Morrison’s economic credentials took a hit with a rise in the cash rate and the latest wages figures coming in well below inflation, while he sought to remodel his personal “bulldozer” style of leadership.
Closely watched will be the success of the so-called “teal” independents running a well-funded campaign on climate change, integrity and women’s safety across a number of Liberal-held seats.
Defeat for Labor will be the fourth successive loss and mean the ALP has won majority government only once in the past 10 elections.
If Mr Morrison wins, he will be the first incumbent prime minister to win two elections in a row since John Howard in 2004.
The Liberal campaign has targeted the seats of Hughes, Gilmore, Parramatta, Hunter (NSW), Lyons (Tasmania), Corangamite (Victoria) and Lingiari (NT).
Labor has in its sights the seats of Pearce, Hasluck, Swan (WA), Chisholm and Hawke (Victoria), Bass and Braddon (Tasmania), Brisbane, Longman, Leichhardt and Ryan (Queensland), Boothby (SA), Reid, Bennelong and Robertson (NSW).
Election day also marks the 60th anniversary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens being granted the right to vote in federal elections.