State of the Nation 29 - Spotlight on Election 2019

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What seemed like a foregone conclusion after the Liberal Party Leadership upheaval late last year has suddenly become a competitive contest between the L-NP Government led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Bill Shorten-led ALP Opposition.

After Turnbull was ‘turfed out’ from his job as Prime Minister in August 2018, and replaced by the then largely unknown among the public Scott Morrison, the Roy Morgan Poll showed the ALP two-party preferred vote spiking to what seemed an unbeatable lead with the Federal Election set to be called within the next few months: ALP 58% cf. L-NP 42% (October 2018).

Following the leadership change former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull immediately resigned from his seat of Wentworth causing a by-election in his seat which was won by Independent candidate Dr. Kerryn Phelps and Liberal MP Julia Banks resigned from the Government and joined the cross-bench.

At this time the Morrison Government was beset by instability and appeared to be on the verge of collapse at any moment. Many media commentators (from afar) advised new Prime Minister Morrison to call an early Federal Election to put the political uncertainty to rest.

As we now know PM Morrison ignored these calls and pledged to take the Government ‘full-term’ until May 2019, which he has done, and the last three Roy Morgan Polls conducted since mid-April 2019 show a very close contest with the ALP just ahead: ALP 51% cf. L-NP 49%.

So what are the key factors that will determine who wins this year’s Federal Election?

  • A late surge or pivotal moment: The narrow lead to the ALP 51% cf. L-NP 49% on a two-party preferred basis means any glaring mistake – such as former Opposition Leader John Hewson’s GST-related birthday cake moment in 1993 or former Opposition Leader Mark Lathams’ overly aggressive handshake with then PM John Howard in 2004 – could provide a late swing in either direction.
  • Trust & Distrust: Politicians are quick to call for the public to ‘trust’ them but what often happens is our political leaders ‘abuse’ this trust and lose the respect and support of the public as a consequence. The loss of trust in major political parties and politicians manifests in rising distrust and has led to the inevitable rise of minor parties at Federal Elections since 2007.

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