Australia’s election could hinge on the results in 20 key Liberal-held marginal seats as the two major parties remain neck and neck in the polls.
With just two days left before Australians cast their ballots, new polls have revealed the leadership race has tightened with Scott Morrison reducing Anthony Albanese’s lead.
Although Labor remains ahead by two points on a two-party preferred basis, the results in marginal seats – those that tend to be won by small percentages – is now more crucial than ever.
Mr Albanese will kick off the final sprint on Thursday by schmoozing voters in Liberal held marginal seats in Sydney and Brisbane before closing the campaign with a three-state blitz on Friday.
Anthony Albanese will blitz 20 Liberal-held seats during the last two days of campaign race as his lead in the poll narrows just days before the election
The ALP leader will travel to 20 Liberal-held marginal seats (listed above) on Thursday and Friday
It is understood Mr Morrison will also be campaigning in Sydney on Thursday in both Labor and Liberal held divisions.
For a party to form a government, it will need to have the majority of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives when ballot sheets are tallied on Saturday.
The Coalition currently holds 76 seats (the minimum needed to have the majority), Labor has 69, and the remaining six are held by minor parties and independents.
On voting day, Labor will need to retain their current seats and pick up another seven to reach 76 – but can topple the Coalition by only gaining four.
With the high stakes in mind, Labor has all eyes on the regions that can make or break the election.
On Thursday, the ALP will launch their ‘Final Sprint to a Better Future’ – which will see Mr Albanese and five of his senior shadow ministers will hit 20 marginal Liberal-held seats in a final offensive effort before voting day.
The Liberal-held seats hanging in the balance in NSW include Reid, Bennelong, and Banks – all in Sydney – as well as Robertson on the Central Coast.
Marginals in Queensland are Leichardt, encompassing the state’s northern tip, Longman, which covers the Moreton Bay region, and Brisbane, Dickson, and Ryan, in the River City.
Mr Albanese will be accompanied on the campaign’s ‘final sprint’ by five senior ALP MPs
Other key areas include Boothby and Sturt, both in Adelaide, Tasmania’s Bass and Braddon electorates, Swan, Pearce and Hasluck in Perth, and Melbourne divisions Chisholm, Higgins, Casey, and Deakin.
Mr Albanese – who will have hit every state and territory over the past week by Friday night – will be accompanied by Richard Marles, Penny Wong, Jim Chalmers, Tanya Plibersek, and Jason Clare.
Mr Clare called on voters to support ALP or ‘Australia will be stuck with three more years of Morrison and nothing will change.’
‘Australians have just a few more days to make a choice between more of the same with Mr Morrison, or a better future with Labor,’ he said.
‘Things need to change, we need a better future, and Labor is ready to help build a better future.
‘But we need your help, Australia. For things to change, we need to change the government. That means we need your vote.’
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison is expected to visit 10 seats in the next two days, which will include making an appearance in Reid and Bennelong on Thursday to try and maintain the LNP’s hold.
Scott Morrison has been spruiking a new first home buyer scheme this week which will allow first home buyers to dip into their super
Prime Minister Scott Morrison accidentally knocks over a child during a visit to the Devonport Strikers Soccer Club, which is in the electorate of Braddon, on May 18, 2022
It is understood he will also visit Parramatta later in the day to target Labor candidate Andrew Charlton.
This week, the PM has been to all states and territories except the ACT.
A Resolve Strategic poll conducted for Nine newspapers shows Labor ahead by per cent to 49 per cent, compared to 54-46 two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, an essential poll published by The Guardian on Wednesday found Labor was on 48 per cent compared to 46 per cent for the coalition, against 49-45 a fortnight ago, with the remainder of voters undecided.
Senior government MPs have been using the final week of the campaign to focus on the economy and housing policy, as the coalition spruiks its plan to allow first home buyers to dip into their super.
Mr Morrison visited his third housing estate in three days, beginning on Wednesday in the Victorian electorate of Corangamite covering outer Geelong, in his third campaign visit and fifth since December.
It is held by Labor on a 1.1 per cent margin after Libby Coker ousted Sarah Henderson in 2019 with a swing of just over one per cent.
Mr Morrison then used an address to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce to outline how the strong economy under his watch would give Australians and businesses the opportunities needed to succeed.
Labor candidate for Ryan, Peter Cossar (left) and Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese (right) are seen at Blackwood Cafe in the suburb of Mitchelton in Brisbane
He also spoke of less interventionism from the government, championing a free market economy.
‘The Liberals and Nationals believe in the power of Australians. The Labor Party believe in the power of government,’ he told guests at Melbourne’s Star Casino.
‘Government must know what it can do and what it can’t, and more importantly what it should.’
The prime minister also highlighted the government’s history of supporting workers throughout the pandemic with subsidies and handouts, just after new data revealed real wages went backwards amid spiking inflation.
With living costs emerging as a focal point of the election campaign, Mr Morrison says the government’s economy shielded Australians from the worst of the financial impacts seen overseas.
‘If you hand over the financial management reins to a Labor Party … then you’re dropping your shield and Australia will be fully exposed to the full force of these global financial pressures.’
The paths to victory for Australia’s next PM: Insiders reveal the seats Labor MUST win – and those Scott Morrison needs to hold ahead of one of the closest elections EVER in 2022
By Charlie Moore, Political Reporter for Daily Mail Australia
Which seats are Labor hoping to win?
Labor will be targeting Western Australia and Queensland, where it performed well below expectations in 2019.
Perhaps its best chance to pick up seats is in Western Australia, where uber-popular Labor premier Mark McGowan almost completely wiped out the Liberal Opposition at the state election last year on the back of his tough Covid border policies.
Insiders have told Daily Mail Australia the party will have strong campaigns in the Perth seats of Swan, Hasluck and Pearce, where ex attorney general Christian Porter is retiring after denying a historical rape allegation.
Mr Porter’s 7.5 per cent margin has been reduced to 5.2 per cent by a redistribution and internal polling shows he was at risk of losing his seat before he stepped down.
The inner Perth seat of Swan is one of the Liberals’ most marginal (2.7 per cent) and Steve Irons, who has held it since 2007, is also retiring in a major boost for Labor.
The neighbouring seat of Hasluck to the west may be harder to take as it’s been held since 2010 by Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt who sits on a 5.4 per cent margin – but that won’t stop Labor throwing the kitchen sink at it.
Labor will be targeting Western Australia (pictured is the map of Perth after the 2019 election, with the Coalition seats in blue and the Labor seats in red) and Queensland where it performed well below expectations in 2019. Labor will have strong campaigns in the Perth seats of Swan, Hasluck and Pearce
You can bet your bottom dollar Mr Albanese will appear on Perth podiums alongside Mr McGowan and criticise the Prime Minister for initially supporting Clive Palmer’s failed High Court challenge to the Covid state border closure.
The ALP also believes it can win seats back in Queensland after it lost Herbert and Longman to the Liberal National Party at the last election where it suffered a four per cent swing against it in the Sunshine State.
The result left the Coalition on a high-water mark in Queensland, holding 23 out of 30 electorates.
The most marginal LNP seat is Longman which covers the Moreton Bay region north of Brisbane. Former businessman Terry Young holds the seat on the 3.3 per cent margin and Labor candidate Rebecca Fanning, a former public servant in the Queensland state government, will be eager to steal it from him.
Anthony Albanese needs to win eight seats to be the next Prime Minister with a majority government
Labor is also targeting the central Queensland seat of Flynn where sitting MP Ken O’Dowd, who increased his margin from one to eight per cent in 2019, is retiring. The ALP has selected popular Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett and believes he can deliver the goods.
Labor will also campaign strongly in Capricornia which Michelle Laundry has held since 2013. The margin is a large 12 per cent but Labor is hopeful that Queenslanders are volatile and when the vote swings, it can swing big.
The seat of Leichardt in the state’s far north is a possibility but pundits tip popular 71-year-old local Warren Entsch to hold on to his 4.1 per cent margin.
The outer Brisbane seats of Petrie (8 per cent) and Bowman (10 per cent) are also on Labor’s wish list as well as Peter Dutton’s seat of Dickson, which the Defence Minister holds on a 4.6 per cent margin.
However, Dickson has been Liberal since 2001 and it would require enormous campaign spending to unseat such a high profile minister.
South of the border, Mr Albanese has at least four NSW seats in his sights.
Top of the list is the historically Labor seat of Reid in western Sydney, which the Liberals won for the first time in 2013 and hold on a slim 3.2 per cent margin.
Labor’s candidate Sally Sitou, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, made headlines in early December when she revealed she had received racist messages from voters on social media and released a statement saying: ‘My loyalties have only ever been to Australia’.
Banks in south-west Sydney is another target, held by Mental Health Minister David Coleman since 2013 on a margin of 6.2 per cent.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already been campaigning in both seats, aware they are at risk of slipping out of his grasp.
Labor will also campaign strongly in Robertson on the Central Coast, which the Liberals have held since 2013 with a margin of 4.2 per cent.
The bellwether seat of Lindsay in Sydney’s western outskirts will also be targeted, after Melissa McIntosh stole it from Labor in 2019 with a 5.5 per cent margin.
In Victoria, Labor needs to hold Corangamite and Dunkley, the two outer urban electorates it took from the Liberals in 2019 and wants to add to its tally by targeting Chisolm and possibly Higgins.
Which seats is the Coalition hoping to win?
The Coalition is aiming to defend seats in Queensland and Western Australia while picking up more in New South Wales.
The Government knows it would be a significant achievement to hold all 23 Queensland seats but believes it can do it.
‘There’s always one or two seats which catch you by surprise but I think the Government has a pretty good standing in Queensland,’ said one source.
The Liberal-National Party may even add to its tally as it targets the north Brisbane seat of Lilley, held by Anika Wells on a 0.6 per cent margin.
It may be harder to hold ground in Western Australia but a source said although Premier McGowan is popular, ‘voters know the difference between state and federal politics.’
Mr Morrison has already been on radio in Perth reminding voters the contest is between him and Mr Albanese not Mr McGowan.
The Labor seat of Cowan in Perth’s north is the only obvious WA target for the Liberals, held by Anne Aly on a margin of 0.8 per cent.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison throws a netball while campaigning in the Sydney seat of Banks, in NSW, on December 8
In terms of offensive strategy, the Coalition is hopeful of picking up electorates in the Prime Minister’s home state of New South Wales where Labor holds six seats on margins less than three per cent.
In 2019 Labor held Macquarie in Sydney’s Blue Mountains by just 371 votes, making it the most marginal seat in the country. The Liberals held the seat from 2010 to 2016 and want it back.
The Liberal Party also wants Eden-Monaro covering rural NSW near Canberra after narrowly missing out in a by election in 2020 when it reduced Labor’s margin from 0.8 per cent to 0.3 per cent.
Dobell on the Central Coast with its 1.5 per cent margin is another target and the Liberals have high hopes of winning back Gilmore on the NSW south coast with popular state MP Andrew Constance.
Meanwhile Hunter has been Labor since 1910 but the Nationals will be campaigning to steal the coalmining seat as long-serving MP Joel Fitzgibbon retires after his margin was slashed to just three per cent in 2019.
The neighbouring seat of Paterson is also on the cards, held by Meryl Swanson since 2016 on a five per cent margin.
The Government also wants Warringah on Sydney’s lower north shore back from independent Zali Steggall who has a 7.2 per cent margin but faces a tough battle after Gladys Berejiklian ruled herself out of the running.
The Coalition is aiming to defend seats in Queensland and Western Australia while picking up more in New South Wales. The Liberals will face a strong challenge in Reid and Lindsay. Pictured: A map of Sydney after the 2019 election
The Liberals also want Lyons in Tasmania which they lost in 2016 to Brian Mitchell who holds the seat with a five per cent margin.
One strategist said Liberal premier Peter Gutwein’s popularity may help shore up Tasmanian seats in what he called ‘the opposite of the McGowan effect’.
In Victoria, the Coalition believes it has a chance of winning back Corangamite and Dunkley, the two marginal seats it lost in the state in 2019. Independent Helen Haines, who holds the regional seat of Indi on a 1.4 per cent margin will also be targeted by the Liberals.
The biggest wildcard in this election will be the seat of Lingiari which covers all of the Northern Territory except an area around Darwin.
Labor’s Warren Snowdon has held the seat since it was created in 2001 but he’s retiring and the County Liberal Party have preselected Alice Springs mayor Damien Ryan in hopes of overturning the 5.5 per cent margin.
When he became Deputy Prime Minister in June 2020, Barnaby Joyce (right on November 23) noted the importance of Lingiari when he said the election is ‘going to be won in three places: the Hunter Valley, central Queensland and in and around Darwin’
Due to its vast size and sporadic population, Lingiari is near impossible to poll meaning it could throw up a surprise on election night.
Concern about losing the seat was one of the reasons Labor was so against the Government’s dumped voter ID laws amid fears they would disenfranchise Aboriginal Labor-leaning voters who didn’t have driving licenses.
When he became Deputy Prime Minister for the second time in June, Barnaby Joyce noted the importance of Lingiari when he said the election is ‘going to be won in three places, the Hunter Valley, central Queensland and in and around Darwin.’
Chisolm MP Gladys Liu holds her seat on 0.6 per cent margin after winning by just 1,090 votes in 2019.
The historically Liberal seat of Higgins, held by Katie Allen on a 3.2 per cent margin, will be harder to overturn.
Labor’s campaign got off to a bad start when candidate Dr Ananda-Rajah undermined the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and in October she was forced to delete a Twitter post blaming Scott Morrison for junior doctor suicides.
Labor needs to hold its seats in Victoria after picking up Corangamite and Dunkley in 2019. Pictured: A map of Melbourne
Bass and Braddon in northern Tasmania are both in play, especially Bass where Liberal Bridget Archer has a slender 0.4 per cent margin, making it the Coalition’s most marginal seat.
Labor insiders fear their brand is damaged after state Opposition leader David O’Byrne resigned following allegations he sexually harassed a junior employee in 2007.
But popular Tasmanian independent Jacqui Lambie has declared she will run lower house candidates and direct her supporters to preference Labor for the first time, a source of great hope to the ALP faithful.
The only seat in play in South Australia is Boothby where high profile Liberal Nicole Flint is stepping down on a 1.4 per cent margin. Both sides see this electorate as a must win.