The rising cost of living has shaped up to be a major issue ahead of the federal election, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison aimed to shift debate back to the economy.
It comes as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has drawn level with Mr Morrison as preferred prime minister, with Labor retaining a two-party preferred lead of 55 to 45 per cent in the latest Newspoll.
Both leaders sit on 42 per cent for preferred prime minister, with Mr Albanese increasing by two points, while 16 per cent remain uncommitted.
Campaigning in the marginal seat of Dobell on the NSW central coast, Mr Morrison said the handling of the economy would be crucial to help dealing with cost of living pressures.
Cost of living has been thrown back into the spotlight as an election issue following a rapid rise in petrol prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This next election is about a choice, about our economy and how we can best manage our economy to manage a better future,” Mr Morrison told reporters on Monday.
“These cost of living impacts are real and the Australian government understands that.”
Dobell is a crucial seat for the coalition to win, held by Labor’s Emma McBride on a margin of 1.5 per cent.
The prime minister was campaigning in the seat alongside the Liberals’ newly selected candidate for the electorate, cardiologist Dr Michael Feneley.
Despite Dr Feneley not being the prime minister’s preferred candidate for the electorate, Mr Morrison said the seat was “spoilt for choice” when it came to candidates.
Meanwhile, Mr Albanese was out campaigning in Townsville in the electorate of Herbert, a Liberal-held seat that sits on a margin of eight per cent.
Despite the recent Newspoll result, the opposition leader said winning the election would still be a tall order.
“We know that it’s a mountain to climb for Labor to win office from opposition, we’ve only done it three times since the Second World War,” he said.
“It’s really tough, and if anyone takes a lesson from the last 2019 campaign, it’s that you shouldn’t worry about polls before election day.”
Mr Albanese said he would be campaigning on reducing cost of living expenses.
“At the moment, families are under massive pressure, everything is going up … except people’s wages, which is why people are really, really struggling.”
Mr Morrison will head to Western Australia later this week, the first time the prime minister will visit the state since it reopened its hard border to the rest of the country.
WA Labor MP Patrick Gorman said the visit would be a difficult one for the prime minister.
“The prime minister has an apology tour of WA each year … it is going to be tough for him,” he told Sky News.
(Australian Associated Press)