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Polls tighten but Labor still ahead


Australia’s leaders are retreating to their preferred policy patches as a pair of polls suggest the election is tightening.


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Prime Minister Scott Morrison started Monday in Sydney, kicking off the day attacking Bill Shorten over the cost of Labor’s policies.

“Bill thinks he can make everything free without anyone having to pay for it,” Morrison told 2GB.

He also had another crack at Shorten for labelling him a “space invader” when he came too close to him during a debate last week.

“The only space he’s going to invade are people’s wallets,” the prime minister said.

The Ipsos poll published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Sunday night had Labor ahead 52-48, a one-point drop from the result a month earlier.

But The Australian’s Newspoll, also released late on Sunday, put the figures the same as a week ago, at 51-49 to Labor, albeit with a reduced primary vote.

Liberal campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham said the race was narrowing as voters started to question Labor’s spending promises.

“When you have an election where the polls are showing just one or two points difference then, of course, anybody could win it,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek says the government is running a scare campaign against her party’s policies, but Labor would remain united and focused.

“Polls are interesting but the only one that really counts is the big one on the day,” she told ABC’s Radio National.

The coalition is focusing on helping businesses, including a new plan for a $50 million fund to give manufacturers incentives to invest in more modern technology.

Ultimately, the government’s initial investment is expected to attract $110 million from the manufacturing industry as it is given out in funding-matched grants.

The coalition also wants to reinvigorate the ‘Australian Made’ campaign, to encourage more foreigners to buy products made down under.

Opposition leader Shorten will also start the day in Sydney, likely visiting a hospital as he talks up his party’s commitment of $500 million to upgrade the nation’s emergency departments and get them more staff.

Labor has released a state-by-state breakdown of where it will spend the money.

This shows the funding would cover the equivalent of 654 more beds, 1812 doctors or 3714  nurses in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.

The opposition will deliver its full costings on Thursday or Friday.

And shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has fired back, writing to his Liberal counterpart Josh Frydenberg to demand the coalition ask Treasury to publish the cost of giving a tax cut to people earning more than $180,000.

The pair will face off at a debate at the National Press Club in Canberra at lunchtime.

The Liberal Party will hold its own campaign launch next Sunday, just a week out from the May 18 election.


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