Australia’s election campaign kicks off with opposition leading in polls

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at the Melbourne Commonwealth Parliament Office in Melbourne, Australia February 11, 2022. Darrian Traynor/Pool via REUTERS

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SYDNEY, April 11 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government could lose the May 21 federal election, polls showed on Monday, even as they showed him cementing his position as the country’s preferred leader on Monday. first day of campaigning.

A Newspoll survey conducted for the Australian newspaper showed Morrison gaining a point at 44%, while Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was down 3 points at 39%, the biggest lead the Prime Minister has held over his rival since february.

But the poll found Morrison’s conservative Liberal-National Party coalition, with a one-seat majority in the lower house of parliament, could lose 10 seats to Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party in a campaign which will focus on cost of living pressures, climate change and questions about the jurisdiction of major parties. Read more

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A separate survey for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Monday predicted the ruling coalition could lose at least 14 seats, including some previously deemed safe in the resource-rich states of Queensland and Western Australia. A Labor victory would bring him back to power for the first time since 2013.

The 151 seats in the lower house will be up for grabs. Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76, Labor 68 and seven are held by minor parties and independents.

Morrison has launched his election campaign from the fringe seat of Gilmore in New South Wales – a weak Labor gain from the Liberal Party in the last election in 2019 – as he prepares to spend six weeks on the road before the vote.

“This election… is about a choice,” Morrison said during a Monday press briefing, describing Albanese’s leadership as “untested and unknown.”

“It’s a choice between strong economic management and strong financial management…contrasted with a Labor opposition that Australians know can’t be trusted to handle the money.”

Albanese dismissed Morrison’s attacks on his experience as a leader, saying he was “ready to govern”, but fumbled answers to reporters’ questions about interest rates and the number of unemployed in Australia.

“The national unemployment rate is currently, I think it’s 5.4 per cent…sorry, not sure what that is,” Albanese told a news conference in Tasmania.

Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 4.0% in February, several months ahead of the central bank’s forecast as the economy rebounds, and it looks certain to fall into the 3% range for the first time since the early 1970s.

Morrison touted his government’s handling of the economy after the emergence of the coronavirus and a faster rebound helped by the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions despite the threat of the Omicron variant.

The recovery was also boosted by soaring prices for natural resources, of which Australia is a major exporter.

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Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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