CANBERRA, AAP – Prime Minister Scott Morrison has underlined his government’s results in the face of the global pandemic, as the federal election campaign enters its first full day.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will hit the ground in Launceston, campaigning in the critical electorate of Bass, while also seeking to highlight the government’s dysfunction over the past three years.
Despite being behind in the polls for much of the parliamentary term, Mr Morrison said the coalition’s results spoke for themselves.
“The character of our government has been proven in the results we’ve achieved, coming through this pandemic saving thousands of lives,” he told the Nine Network on Monday.
“Not everybody agrees with everything I’ve done, and not everybody will necessarily like me, but what they will know is that when we faced this crisis, we ploughed through with the right plan.”
Mr Morrison will spend the day in the seat of Gilmore on the NSW south coast, a marginal seat held by Labor by just 2.6 per cent.
The prime minister will announce $40 million worth of local road upgrades across the Shoalhaven region as he sells his government’s economic credentials.
The seat of Gilmore was heavily affected by the Black Summer bushfires.
Former NSW minister Andrew Constance is running for the party in the seat.
Mr Albanese said the government was out of ideas and out of time.
“They always react too little, too late … this is a government led by a prime minister which never takes responsibility, always looks to blame someone else,” he told ABC TV.
“I’m the only candidate for prime minister who is trying to form government in their own right, we’ve seen the mess that is the modern coalition, with chaos within the National Party, chaos within the Liberal Party.”
Labor will use the first full day of the campaign to announce better care for children with hearing loss, pledging $1.5 million to fund the development of the digital HearHub platform, an online service that will deliver hearing tests and support for families.
It will also establish new Shepherd Centres, which run the platform, in Launceston and Hobart with $2.5 million of funding behind them.
Bass, currently held by Liberal backbencher Bridget Archer, is one of the most marginal seats in the country, with the government holding the electorate by 0.4 per cent.
It comes as the latest Newspoll shows the coalition narrowing the gap with Labor on two-party preferred, but the opposition are still ahead 53-47.
The coalition’s primary vote remains on 36 per cent, while Labor’s primary vote has dropped by one point to 37 per cent.
Mr Morrison has also pulled ahead of Mr Albanese as preferred prime minister.
The prime minister also confirmed Alan Tudge, who stepped aside from cabinet amid allegations he had an abusive relationship with a former staffer with whom he had an affair, would return to the frontbench should the government win the election.
Mr Tudge has strenuously denied the allegation, and an investigation found insufficient evidence he breached the ministerial standards.
Mr Morrison said Mr Tudge had stood aside for “health and family reasons” and was welcome to rejoin cabinet when he was ready.