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Morrison's election date decision inches closer

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Scott Morrison is moving closer to an election date call, as Labor launches its election advertising focusing on health and a crackdown on tax dodgers.

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The prime minister is expected within days to announce the federal poll, most likely to be held on May 18.

His Liberal-National coalition continues to lag behind Labor on a two-party preferred basis but senior government figures remain confident it can be clawed back.

Morrison has framed the campaign around the government’s job creation record and balancing the budget.

“Australia is the best place to live and raise a family ,but our future depends on ensuring we build our economy to secure our future and guarantee the essential services Australians rely on,” he said yesterday.

Labor leader Bill Shorten appeared in an election ad last night, spruiking his health and education policies.

“As a dad of three, I know Labor’s Fair Go Plan is good for families,” Shorten says.

He promises to upgrade hospitals, help meet cancer treatment costs, improve schools and fight climate change, while closing tax loopholes and making banks and multinationals pay their share of tax.

An Essential poll released yesterday found the coalition behind 48 per cent to 52 on the two-party preferred vote.

But it also found the federal budget was well-received, with 51 per cent of voters approving and 27 per cent disapproving.

The coalition is banking on approving the controversial Adani coal mine to help win over voters in Queensland, but it might cost votes in Victoria.

Environment Minister Melissa Price yesterday approved the Carmichael mine’s groundwater plan, meaning the mine is a step closer to construction.

“I welcome the fact Mr Shorten has said he will be supporting the decision … let’s see if he says that in Victoria,” Morrison said.

Labor climate spokesman Mark Butler said the Adani decision was made by a minister under pressure from Nationals colleagues.

“People will not have much confidence in the decision made in the wake of such extraordinary bullying and division,” he said.

Shorten said a Labor government would not reverse any federal approvals for Adani.

Morrison promised the coalition would not run ads on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day during the campaign.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to return on Monday for four days of sittings but this is not expected to go ahead.

If the election is called in the next two days it will also bring an early end to Senate estimates hearings which are due to run until Friday.

Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said the possible fall of the Easter long weekend and Anzac Day during the election period would require some changes to operations.

Mr Rogers also said the commission would be keeping a close eye on social media and websites, with new powers and penalties to detect and prevent foreign interference.

-AAP

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