FEDERAL ELECTION: Five Weeks - Five Things to Watch

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It’s all about the economy

The economy is going to be the central issue of this campaign with Australians doing it tough and our nation facing economic headwinds. Policies from both major parties will target the minds and the hip pockets of Australians and businesses. Tax reform, negative gearing and the living wage will all feature prominently, with the Coalition positioning itself as a better economic manager while Labor is putting fairness at the heart of its economic approach.

The importance of believability and trust

With the Coalition and Labor venturing into each other’s policy heartlands, the fight for government will hinge on who can deliver their message with the most credibility – who can be believed and trusted. The issue of trust is already central to the Coalition’s election rhetoric, with the Prime Minister reviving a line from John Howard’s 2004 campaign to open his own – ‘who do you trust?’ The most recent Essential Report shows the Coalition remains the most trusted manager of the economy, while Labor remains the most trusted to protect the interests of social services and those of working people. In terms of who can reduce taxes, the electorate appears split, with the Coalition rated just as likely to lower taxes as Labor. Expect tax reform to remain a key policy platform, as both parties seek to tip the scale of believability and trust in their favour.

Out with the old, in with the new

Despite the rhetoric of recent months, only 17 MPs are choosing not to recontest this election. In comparison, 23 MPs resigned in 2016 and 25 in 2013. With every new wave comes a number of candidates to watch. In 2019, this includes former AMA boss Brian Owler challenging in the seat of Bennelong for Labor, former Olympian Zali Steggall OAM challenging Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah as an independent and renowned human rights lawyer Julian Burnside AO challenging for the Greens in Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong. Less than a week into the campaign though, four candidates have already stepped down – including three over constitutional concerns.

More and more Aussies will get in early

Millions of Australians are foregoing their democracy sausage (and the queues) and voting early – 31 per cent of eligible voters at the last federal election and 40 per cent of voters at the last Victorian election cast their vote before polling day. We expect to see this affect the way politicians approach this campaign with the majority of policy commitments made in the lead up, or during the early stages of the campaign. For those looking to get in early, pre-polling is available from 29 April 2019.

Keep an eye on the Senate

While eyes will always be on the House for its ability to decide the government, the Senate will be crucial to enabling any new government to deliver its policies. The protest vote phenomenon has seen the vote of smaller parties growing steadily. The Greens are likely to struggle to retain all their senators, while One Nation is likely to reclaim some of its Senate seats. Eyes will be on the Centre Alliance with many believing they’re likely to hold considerable influence post-July.

What does the polling say?

The latest Newspoll is predicting a 2.36 per cent swing towards Labor, with the ALP leading the Coalition 52 to 48 on a two-party preferred basis. However, Scott Morrison prevails as the preferred PM, with polling remaining steady following the Coalition’s slight post-Budget bump. One thing is certain, keep your eyes peeled, this race has a long way yet to run.

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Bridget Jung