Prime Minister Scott Morrison has officially confirmed the next federal election will take place on May 18, just five weeks from now, after meeting with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove to dissolve parliament.
“He [Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove] accepted my advice for an election to be held on the 18th of May,” Morrison said on camera.
The most recent Newspoll, published by The Australian on Monday, revealed that the Coalition have managed to narrow the gap between themselves and Labor, trailing just 48 to 52 behind the Opposition on a two-party preferred basis. This is up two points from 46 to 54 just one month ago.
This week marked the LNP’s highest rating in a Newspoll since Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in August 2018, with the party’s primary vote also gaining two points, rising to 38 while Labor’s has dropped to 37.
Meanwhile, Morrison managed to retain his lead over Opposition leader Bill Shorten in the preferred leader stakes as he emerged with a slightly higher satisfaction rating of 46 per cent, while Shorten’s approval rating fell by one point to 35 per cent.
It comes after the PM shared a final campaign video before his announcement on Twitter, with it centred almost completely on his family. The clip includes sweet family footage taken inside their home.
“The real question is, what country do you want to live in in the next 10 years? The next 10 years is going to determine people’s lives,” he says on camera.
I’m proud of how far our country has come over the past few years. And I know there is still more work for us to do to make life better for all Australians. My vision for Australia is about everyone having the chance to realise their full potential. pic.twitter.com/KJyRSj6zPz
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) April 10, 2019
Morrison adds: “The choices my girls will have over the next 10 years, even over the next three years, will set up… So the decisions you make in one term of government last for a decade or more.”
His video was followed just hours later by Shorten’s own effort, showing him speaking directly to the camera about being a father of three.
He says: “As a dad of three I know Labor’s Fair Go plan is good for families,” before going on to set out Labor’s pledges in their latest budget promise including funding for free cancer scans.
More than 16.2million voters are reportedly expected to head to the polls in five weeks time, and it comes after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered the first budget surplus in 12 years, as he handed down the final budget of the 45th parliament in Canberra last week.
Outlining the 2019-20 budget in the Lower House, Frydenberg announced a surplus of $7.1 billion, saying: “The budget is back in the black and Australia is back on track.
“For the first time in 12 years our nation is again paying our way. Australia is stronger than when we came to government six years ago.”
The treasurer announced a series of changes designed to benefit senior Australians, including “record funding” for the country’s aged care sector, vowing to inject a huge $21.6 billion into the system throughout the next year to improve safety, quality and access to care.
This funding included a $185 million investment into research in ageing and dementia, and additional funding for Home Care packages, which advocacy groups had called on the government to prioritise ahead of the announcement.
The government also announced the introduction of a one-off Energy Assistance Supplement for pensioners – $75 for singles and $125 for couples – intended to help with costly power bills.
Meanwhile, Shorten delivered a lengthy Budget reply speech just days later, promising free cancer scans in a $2.3billion health pledge which he described as “the biggest change to Medicare since it was introduced”.
The Labor leader also promised bigger tax cuts for low-income workers and 150,000 new apprenticeships.
Revealing he was inspired to act after watching his own mother’s agonising battle with cancer, Shorten told his fellow politicians the ambitious health plan would cover up to 6 million free cancer scans (including X-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds, and PET and CT scans), as well as 3 million free appointments with specialists.
While the consultations with oncologists and surgeons would be turned into bulk-billed Medicare items, he also guaranteed that expensive cancer medicines recommended by experts will be subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
“Cancer is a curse,” he said in the speech. “I wish I could stand here tonight and guarantee you will find a cure to reach cancer. No politician with give that promise.
“We will continue to support scientists in their work, invest in research in clinical trials. Until the day we find a cure, I promise the men and women of Australia this.
“Under Labor, if you’re battling cancer, you focus on getting well, without worrying about going broke.”