Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open to calling the federal election as soon as Friday, formally kick-starting a fierce contest with Labor’s Anthony Albanese for the nation’s top political job.
Senior ministers told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Thursday morning that Saturday and Sunday remained live options for the Prime Minister to visit the Governor-General, which would be a more usual day for the visit to Government House.
The Prime Minister has changed his language when facing questions about when he will call the federal election.Credit:AAP/Getty Images
But they noted Mr Morrison’s shift in language during a press conference on the NSW Central Coast.
When asked at a press conference on Wednesday if he would call the election “tomorrow”, Mr Morrison replied “no”.
But when he was asked on Thursday if he would call the election tomorrow, Mr Morrison said: “Are we going to do this every day? The election will be called when I’m in a position to go to the Governor-General.”
“It’s almost three years by my mid-May from the last election, I said we would run a term do the job and go to the Australian people,” Mr Morrison said.
“And so that’s when the election is due and I think we’ll be calling it soon. And when we do, then I think there’ll be a real opportunity because this election is an opportunity for the Australian public to take a good look.”
The election date will be either May 14 or May 21.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese challenged the Prime Minister to call the election.
“We will be making more announcements about that [manufacturing policy] if ever the Prime Minister gets around to formally calling the election campaign, if ever he decides that he has spent enough taxpayers’ money on ads in the lead up to the selection,” he said on the campaign trail in Perth.
Staff from key political offices such as deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham have begun relocating to Brisbane, where the Coalition’s campaign headquarters is based.
The government is hoping the calling of the election will draw a line under the series of attacks on the Prime Minister’s character and judgement from his own side in recent weeks and ramp up scrutiny on his opponent, Anthony Albanese.
The Coalition will start the election campaign well behind the Labor Party in all published opinion polls, including the most recent Resolve Political Monitor in which the government’s primary vote increased slightly from 33 to 34 per cent in the wake of the budget, while Labor’s support jumped from 35 to 38 per cent.
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