Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the date of the 2022 federal election, marking May 21 as the day Australia goes to the polls.
Governor-General David Hurley consented to the Prime Minister’s request on Sunday, Morrison said, ending months of speculation over when the hotly-contested election will take place.
It is now on the federal government to prove it can steer the nation for another three years, after a term defined by a pandemic, bushfires, devastating flooding, and economic tubulence.
“Our government is not perfect,” Morrison told reporters at Parliament House.
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“We’ve never claimed to be, but we are up-front, and you may see some flaws, but you can also see what we have achieved for Australia in incredibly difficult times.”
The May 21 announcement formally launched the election campaigns of the Coalition, Labor, and the minor parties, all of whom have refined their pitches to the Australian electorate.
The Coalition’s pre-election federal budget includes a host of policies designed to win the small business vote, including pay-as-you-go cash flow tweaks, 20% “bonus” tax deductions on tech upgrades and digital training, and new funding for apprentice wage subsidies.
The Coalition has also flagged cuts to company fees, a new small business unit within the Fair Work Commission, and tweaks to parental leave designed to make the system “fairer” (if not more expansive).
“Our plan does deliver tax relief and it does deliver that for workers and for small businesses, to help you get ahead and ensure that you can deal with the cost of living pressures right here, right now,” Morrison claimed Sunday.
The opposition has taken strides to align itself with industry, too: Labor aims to be “pro-business, pro-employer”, in the words of Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers. The election will give business-owners the chance to vote for a long-term boost to TAFE funding, and reforms to the short-term visa system, two policies Labor says will improve Australia’s skills mix in years to come.
Labor has repeatedly suggested it will increase tax pressure on multinational companies, a move Chalmers said will level the playing field for smaller operators.
For its part, The Australian Greens are advocating for a $10 million micro-financing facility to back women-led businesses, a move the party hopes will financially empower female industry leaders in rural areas. The party also wants Canberra to spend at least 3% of its annual procurement budget at women-led firms.
Beyond pure business concerns, both sides of the political aisle will be judged on their approach to the pandemic, the rising cost of living, increasing geo-political tensions, disaster resilience, and a volatile climate.