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Not since the war have the conservatives faced such a tough election

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Much about the contest to come is standard fare for Australian federal elections. The Coalition will warn us that a Labor government will be a tax-and-spend catastrophe with no hope of reigning in the deficit. Labor will accuse the Coalition of looking after business and the big end of town, and of lacking deep commitment to Medicare and public education. But some things about this election are different.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with a portrait of Liberal Party pioneer Sir Robert Menzies on March 12. Photo: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett

Not since 1943 has the non-Labor side of our national politics entered an election campaign in such poor shape. Back then, non-Labor had splintered, and its main party, the United Australia Party, won only 12 seats. This was the low point from which Robert Menzies rallied non-Labor to form the new Liberal Party of Australia.

It could well be heading for another low point. The inability of the moderates and the conservatives to work together is manifest in the chaos of three prime ministers in six years and as many treasurers.

The Coalition agreement between the Liberal and National parties is under greater strain than at any time since 1943. The differences that have........

© Canberra Times