Labor switches to attack as they take a hit in the polls

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Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has switched tactics from policy announcements to attacking the coalition government, as Labor takes a hit in the polls. 

Starting the second week of the May 21 election campaign in Brisbane, Mr Albanese blasted the prime minister over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters over the past two years.

“What we saw from the federal government, whether it be bushfires, floods or the pandemic is a real pattern of behaviour,” he said, after speaking with flood victims in the Brisbane suburb of Auchenflower. 

“He only acted when the political pressure was really put on.”

Mr Albanese warned voters to expect health cuts if the federal government is returned to power, calling the government’s future Health Minister Anne Ruston a threat to accessible medical care. 

“This is a health minister, now designate … who we know will undermine Medicare, who has said that the current model is not sustainable, who has said that Medicare funding is just putting things on the credit card,” he said. 

“This is another example of what we can expect if Scott Morrison is re-elected.”

When the $7 patient co-payment was included in the 2014 coalition budget, Senator Ruston told parliament Medicare was not sustainable without it.

Senator Ruston said the government had since been clear it would not be making funding cuts to Medicare.

“We absolutely have guaranteed Medicare in law,” she told ABC Radio on Monday.

Mr Morrison was in Fremantle to unveil a $124 million investment in two new Evolved Cape Class patrol boats, which he said would provide a continuing pipeline of jobs.

He will spend two days in WA before heading to Brisbane for the first leaders’ debate with Anthony Albanese.

The prime minister also unveiled a plan for first time homeowners who can’t put together the minimum 20 per cent deposit themselves. 

From July 1 they would be able to secure a government-funded guarantee for homes valued at up to $150,000 more than the current cap.

In capital cities and regional centres the existing cap will lift by $100,000, with hopeful homeowners in NSW, for example, able to set their sights on a $900,000 home in Sydney in the 2022/23 financial year, compared to $800,000 in 2021/22. 

The cap will lift by $150,000 in other parts of that state.

New polling shows Mr Morrison ahead as the choice for preferred prime minister with 38 per cent, against 30 per cent for Mr Albanese, a sharp turnaround on the Labor leader’s 37-36 margin of two weeks ago. 

The Resolve Strategic poll for The Sydney Morning Herald-The Age also showed Labor’s primary vote down four points to 34 per cent, with the coalition up one to 35 per cent.

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