If recent months, and days, are any indication, this year's federal election could well be won and lost on issues not yet high on the political radar. Never has it been truer that "a week is a long time in politics". If the surprises keep coming it is going to be an eternity until May 21, the last day on which the poll can be held.
It now seems inevitable, after two months during which the government has been rocked by Omicron, soaring deaths in aged care, a lack of rapid antigen tests, a lagging booster shot roll-out, leaked text messages critical of the Prime Minister's veracity, character and leadership, and the bungled handling of the Religious Discrimination Bill, this Parliament will run its full term.
Mr Morrison needs all the time he can get to rebuild unity within the Coalition, to ride what is expected to be a strong economic recovery, to put distance between himself and the recent string of scandals, and to reset the campaign focus on the economy, national security and the pandemic response.
He and the Treasurer will now have their hopes pinned on the federal budget to be handed down on March 29. If the economic bounce back goes to plan, Omicron fizzles out, and Australia's relative performance on hospitalisations and deaths continues to lead much of the rest of the world the LNP is still in with a chance.
While many of the same pundits who predicted a victory for Labor under Bill Shorten in 2019 are now saying the Morrison government is on the ropes, their epitaphs could prove premature.
It is not all plain sailing for Labor which, despite its persistent criticisms of the government's pandemic response over the past two years and claims it would have done a better job, has done little to indicate it would be more effective if elected. While Mr Albanese's main claim to fame appears to be he is not Scott Morrison he has never once polled as preferred Prime Minister. The polls themselves are not always accurate. Issues that make big waves inside the parliamentary triangle don't necessarily resonate that strongly in the 'burbs and the regions.
This is why we want to hear from you, our subscribers and readers, about what issues are most likely to decide which way you vote. What issues matter most to you? What traits are most important in a prime minister? What's the key question you want us to ask candidates and parties on your behalf? Take our quick online reader survey and tell us what you think. It's your chance to make your voice heard on the issues that affect you and to help shape the election coverage.
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