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We're off to space on a pushbike with another lacklustre campaign

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19.04.2019

Voters have almost a week's respite, because of Easter and Anzac Day, from the resumption of election hostilities. Those few outside the fabled Canberra bubble who have even noticed that an election campaign has been going on for more than a week are no doubt disappointed with the truce; most likely however most of the population has either not noticed the battles or, as yet, failed to become engaged with them. They haven't missed much.

It is plain that the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, will continue to hammer his claim that the Coalition is the better economic manager, and that Labor will sink it with higher taxes. There's an undertone, reminiscent of a Sydney Morning Herald editorial of 1972, recognising a mood for change and sense that the government has been a shambles, but imploring the electorate not to be seduced by the false and showy glitter of the dangerous and incompetent Labor Party.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a black hole akin to the inspiring nature of the 2019 election campaign, and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Labor, by contrast, has an array of themes, including its traditional focus on health, education and social welfare, plus action on climate change, and, on the negative side, the disunity and disorganisation of the Coalition, as well as the sense that it has run out of steam and ideas. Labor is not shrinking from a claim to equal or greater competence at economic management. Although the leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, is stronger on the rhetoric about his party being a movement, he has so far done little to invest the campaign with any sense of being a crusade, let alone one towards some light on some hill.

While the last fortnight reinforces the idea of the importance of leaders being masters of their briefs and of the detail of their policy proposals, it also suggests that both leaders would be better out of all of the boring detail and more focused on the broader themes.

Insiders relish watching leaders being rattled by an imperfect memory for fine detail, but, absent a GST-on-cake moment, which we are not going to get, I doubt it has much impact on those said to live outside the bubble, in the real world. Most of these appear to have made up their minds about the government at least 18 months ago - before Morrison, whom they scarcely know or recognise - became Prime Minister. The evidence, moreover, is that the result will be a verdict on the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison-Joyce-McCormack government's performance, not a judgment on Shorten or Labor.

May 18 is the last day that voters could go to the polls with the reasonable certainty that an election for half the Senate could be concluded by June 30. Morrison could have held out much longer for a House of Representatives election, but he could not defer the half-Senate election, and would have looked bad had he decoupled........

© Canberra Times