Scott Morrison has declared he is the underdog for the next election as he continues an unofficial campaign which is expected to last six months.
In his first domestic tour since the end of Covid lockdowns in Victoria and NSW – and just days after returning from a major climate summit in the UK – the Prime Minister last week visited Melbourne where he made pasta, served breakfast to veterans, and opened an Indian community centre.
Continuing his campaign-style blitz, Mr Morrison kicked off this week in the key battleground of western Sydney where he visited a metal factory and spruiked his support for small businesses.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Liberal member for Higgins Katie Allen make gnocchi pasta during a visit to Sugo restaurant in Malvern, Melbourne last Tuesday
Mr Morrison during the opening of the Australian Indian Community Centre in Melbourne on Friday
Month of next federal election odds
The visit came as the latest Newspoll put Labor ahead of the Coalition for the eighth time in a row since June, at 53 per cent to 47 per cent on a two-party basis.
Asked on Monday if he considers himself the underdog at the next election, Mr Morrison replied: ‘Well, I think that’s fairly clear.
‘And I’ve been there before,’ he said in reference to his surprise victory against Bill Shorten in 2019.
The Prime Minister has the power to call an election any time up to the end of May when the current senate term ends.
Elections must be held on a Saturday, meaning May 21 is the latest possible date.
The poll must be called at least five weeks in advance, meaning December is all but out of the question because the only date left is Christmas Day.
No federal election has ever been held as Australians enjoy their summer holidays in January or February so the most likely months are March, April or May.
All Saturdays in March are possible. March 19 would clash with the South Australian election but it can be moved by three weeks if a federal election is held in the same month.
April 2, April 9 and April 30 are possible but April 16 is Easter Saturday, which also makes April 23 less likely because campaigning will be disrupted over the public holiday weekend.
The options in May are 7, 14, and 21 and on Thursday the Prime Minister gave his strongest hint yet this would be his favoured month, telling Nine’s Today show: ‘It’s due in May of next year.’
The next day Defence Minister Peter Dutton revealed he also expects a May election, saying: ‘I think it’s another six months, so buckle up.’
Mr Morrison later admitted the campaign has effectively already started, telling 3AW: ‘Some people say it never ends.’
Scott Morrison serves members breakfast during a visit to Doncaster RSL in Melbourne on Thursday
Mr Morrison sits inside an electric vehicle at an engineering facility specialising in renewable technology during a visit to the Hunter Valley, New South Wales on November 8
Scott Morrison’s photo ops
November 8: Drives electric vehicle in the NSW Hunter Valley
November 9: Makes pasta in Malvern, Melbourne
November 10: Speech to Melbourne’s Chamber of Commerce
November 11: Serves breakfast at an Melbourne RSL
November 12: Opens Indian Community Centre in Melbourne
November 15: Visits metal factory in Penrith, NSW
We will get a huge clue about the election date when Mr Morrison announces the date for the Federal Budget, which is normally held on the second Tuesday of May.
In December 2018, the Prime Minister announced the 2019-20 Budget would be released on 2 April, giving him a platform to campaign on for six weeks before the May 18 election.
It was a winning formula for the Coalition and helps explain why the bookies favour a May election again this time around.
Labor, led by Anthony Albanese, needs to make a net gain of eight seats to claim a majority but the party has only won 10 out of 29 elections since WWII.
Labor continues to lead the federal government in the latest Newspoll while approval for opposition leader Anthony Albanese has risen.
The poll published in The Australian on Monday shows Labor is ahead of the coalition on a two-party preferred basis, at 53 per cent to 47 per cent.
On a primary vote basis, Labor is also ahead on 38 per cent compared to 37 per cent for the government.
Asked who would be a better prime minister the poll of 1524 voters picked Scott Morrison, but his result of 46 per cent was down from 48 per cent in the previous poll.
Mr Albanese gained four percentage points to 38 per cent. Support for the Greens was unchanged at 11 per cent, on a two-party basis. The poll was conducted between November 10 and November 13.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a visit to Baker and Proven metal factory in St Marys, Sydney on Monday