SYDNEY, April 11 — Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison extended his lead as the country’s preferred leader but his government could still lose the federal election to be held next month, a poll showed on Monday, the first day of the official campaign.
A Newspoll conducted for The Australian newspaper showed Morrison gaining a point to 44 per cent, while opposition leader Anthony Albanese falling 3 points to 39 per cent, the largest lead the prime minister has held over his rival since February.
Australia will hold a general election on May 21, Morrison said on Sunday, triggering a campaign expected to be fought over cost-of-living pressures, climate change and questions of trust and competence of the major parties.
Even as Morrison’s personal ratings remained steady, his conservative Liberal National Party coalition could lose 10 seats and the election to Albanese’s centre-left Labor, which leads 53-47 on a two-party preferred basis, the poll said. The government has a one-seat majority in the lower house of parliament.
A separate survey done for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper out on Monday predicted the ruling coalition could lose at least 14 seats including ones deemed safe in resource-rich Queensland and Western Australia states.
Labor could return to power for the first time since 2013 should it win some of the key electorates with Morrison kicking off his election campaign from the marginal seat of Gilmore as he prepares to spend six weeks on the road before the vote.
“This election … is about a choice,” Morrison said during a media briefing on Monday, and described Albanese’s leadership as “untested and unknown.”
“It’s a choice between strong economic management and strong financial management … that contrasts to a Labor opposition who Australians know can’t be trusted to manage money.”
Albanese dismissed Morrison’s attacks on his experience as a leader saying he was “ready to govern”.
“We saw a government only concerned about cost of living only until the election,” Albanese told Channel Seven. — Reuters