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Closer than you think: Former PM Howard insists election is tight


Former prime minister John Howard says “anybody with any brain” is anticipating a tight election race, and insists the LNP vote is being understated in polling.

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A poll conducted by YouGov for The Australian predicts Labor would win government with 80 seats in the lower house, leaving the coalition with 63 seats and an eight-member cross bench.

“It has understated the coalition vote,” Howard told the Nine Network on Thursday.

“But it will be very tight. Anybody with any brain on our side will recognise that.”

Howard, the host of a new documentary about Sir Robert Menzies – who served as prime minister between 1939 and 1941, and again from 1949 to 1966 – said a lot of the fundamentals of government had not changed since that era.

“People still want the country’s economy well managed, they still want strong national defences,” he said

“People … want somebody there who knows how to run things, economically, and they do want somebody there who knows what we need to do to defend ourselves.”

His comments came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese continued to trade barbs over the need for wage increases.

Albanese has said he would support a 5.1 per cent wage increase in line with the highest inflation figure in two decades, but indicated the mechanism by which a Labor government would seek the rise would be determined in coming weeks.

The prime minister branded Mr Albanese’s statement as “reckless”.

“We all want to see wages increase but I don’t want to see reckless behaviour in how the process should work and this is where Mr Albanese has failed,” he told reporters in Tasmania.

Morrison visited the Launceston Head To Health facility in the northern Tasmanian seat of Bass, with Liberal MP Bridget Archer who holds the seat by a 0.4 per cent margin.

Morrison announced more than $55 million will go to mental health and suicide prevention support and services in the state over the next five years.

Archer became tearful when describing how much the funding meant to her and shared touching details of her own experiences.

She said improving mental health services was one of the reasons she entered politics.

“I have suffered from poor mental health a lot of my life,” she said.

“I’ve unfortunate personal experience with suicide of losing my stepsister to suicide and I’ve seen the impact suicide has on had on small communities like mine across Tasmania.

“If we can stop one person from taking their life, then these services will be worth it.”


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