Australia’s Labor looks set to win tight election race

By BLOOMBERG

CANBERRA • Australia looks set for a change of government on May 18, with the main Opposition Labor party entering the final two weeks of the election campaign still leading in opinion polls.

Labor is ahead of the governing Liberal-National coalition on 51% to 49%, according to a Newspoll published yesterday in an Australian newspaper, while a Nine Ipsos survey puts it four points in the lead.

But with the five-week campaign down to its final 12 days, there’s little room for error if the left-leaning Opposition, led by former unionist Bill Shorten, is to win.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put the government back in contention for a third term in office, after a Newspoll in March showed Labor leading by eight points and heading for a landslide victory.

The main message from Morrison, 50, has been that Labor can’t be trusted to manage an economy showing signs of a slowdown amid record high household debt and stagnant wages. With the central bank under pressure to cut interest rates as early as today, the ruling coalition is urging undecided voters to stick with its plan to pass sweeping income tax cuts to stimulate growth.

Shorten, 51, is aiming his promised tax cuts at the lower paid, while pledging to create a “fairer” nation and reduce generational inequality by curbing tax perks enjoyed by wealthier Australians.

He’s also promising tougher action on big polluters to counter climate change. — Bloomberg