The campaign will, of course, not just be about choosing a prime minister and frankly there is not that much to choose between the two party leaders. Both come to this election as uncharismatic men in suits who have climbed the greasy poles of machine politics.
Hopefully the lack of glamour will give voters more time to think about the party’s competing visions for Australia. A key difference will be tax policy where the Liberal Party is promising personal tax cuts for a wide range of income earners staggered over the next five years while the ALP is offering cuts but only for those at the bottom and middle and raising taxes on some investment income. The ALP is using the extra cash to pay for more services such as schools and hospitals.
Despite this largesse, both parties have given a hostage to fate by promising to maintain budget surpluses. Given the the International Monetary Fund just downgraded its forecasts for global growth it could prove hard for either side to deliver both tax cuts and surpluses.
Voters must also make another significant choice on climate change policy and on balance those who take the issue seriously will likely opt for the ALP which is offering to end the paralysis that has beset the Coalition for the past six years. Hopefully during the campaign the Coalition will explain how it plans to avoid a repeat of its internal battles over climate change if it returns to government.
Robust debate is fine but the Herald hopes the election will avoid the racial divisions that have marred two recent state elections. The dog whistling against Africans by the Coalition in Victoria and the dangerous comments about Chinese taking Australian jobs by NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley underline how tempting it can be to play the race card.
At a federal level, debate on asylum seekers and population growth in our major cities could easily take a nasty turn. The Christchurch massacre should have convinced politicians that there is a real danger to our communities in saying anything that divides Australian from Australian.
It is likely to be a gruelling campaign but the good news is that it is only running for five weeks, unlike the eight-week ordeal visited on the country in 2016. It will test the mettle of both leaders. Let us have a good clean fight.