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Morrison to trigger federal election race

Australians are tipped to go to the polls in six weeks after a tumultuous three years for the economy, health and global security.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison left Sydney on Sunday morning ahead of a visit to Government House in Canberra to ask Governor-General David Hurley for an election, expected to be held on May 21.

A number of anti-government and Indigenous protesters have gathered outside Government House ahead of the prime minister’s arrival.

Mr Morrison enjoyed a curry dinner with his family in Sydney on Saturday night, while Labor leader Anthony Albanese watched his beloved Rabbitohs beat the Dragons in the NRL.

Mr Morrison is aiming to become the first incumbent prime minister to win two elections in a row since John Howard in 2004.

But Labor has been ahead in the polls consistently since June 2021, currently sitting on a two-party preferred vote of 55 per cent.

The government says Mr Albanese lacks the experience to run the country and has been playing a small-target pre-election campaign so far.

“Anthony Albanese has been curled up in a ball not wanting people to know who he was,” government frontbencher Peter Dutton told the Nine Network.

“Having been in parliament for 20 years and watched governments of both persuasions, I don’t believe the Labor government could have guided us through the last three years in which the coalition has.”

Labor’s Jason Clare says voters are sick of the “lies and incompetence” of a government that has been in power for almost a decade.

“This is an old government. If they win this election they will have been in power for longer than (former Liberal prime minister) John Howard,” Mr Clare said.

Mr Morrison on Saturday released a video in which he points to the natural disasters that have hit the country, the unstable global security environment and the risks facing Australia’s economy.

He says 40,000 Australians are alive because of how his government handled the COVID-19 pandemic, with 700,000 still in jobs because of the response to the economic fallout.

“This is why as we go into this next election, what’s firing me up – we’re actually in a really strong position,” Mr Morrison says.

Mr Morrison set an apologetic but committed tone in an opinion piece written for News Corp papers on Sunday.

“Our government is not perfect. But we have been upfront. You know what we stand for, you can see our record of delivery, and you can see our plan for the future,” he wrote.

Mr Albanese also released a video on Saturday spruiking his “fully costed plan for a better future”.

He introduces himself to voters and talks about his economics degree from Sydney University and six years as infrastructure minister.

“Growing up with a single mum, I know the value of a dollar, and I know how hard it is to get ahead, ” Mr Albanese says.

Labor also released an attack video, lampooning the prime minister’s video message and declaring: “No more mistakes. No more excuses. No more Morrison”.

Mr Albanese wrote an opinion piece in which he pledged to unite the nation.

“That’s the approach behind Labor’s election campaign – building a better future where no one is left behind and no one is held back,” he wrote.

The coalition starts the race with 76 seats out of the 151-seat lower house, with Labor on 69 if the new seat of Hawke in Victoria is considered a win.

Forty seats in the upper house are in contention in a half-Senate election.

Both leaders are tipped to start their campaigns in regional parts of the nation where marginal seats are up for grabs or need defending.

There are concerns the campaigns could be derailed by COVID-19, but steps have been taken to minimise the chances of outbreaks.

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