The 2019 federal election will bring to a close another volatile period of Australian politics.

There’s no doubt the Coalition has suffered significant brand damage through the second spill of a sitting Prime Minister and the replacement of a Deputy Prime Minister.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison is trying to get on with the business of governing, it will be a massive undertaking to assure swinging voters that the Coalition is done with leadership dramas.

And while Labor is comfortably ahead in the polls on a two-party preferred basis, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten still has some work to do, trailing the Prime Minister 44-36 in the preferred PM stakes.

So what are the key issues for the major parties as we approach the next federal election?

Labor

Leadership team

Compared to the Coalition, Labor under Bill Shorten appears unified and strong. While the polls show that Shorten himself needs to work harder to convince voters he’s the man for the top job, he has managed to keep the Labor ship heading in the right direction.

Workplace relations

Labor has appealed to its base by committing to reform the workplace relations system, including the restoration of penalty rates. Recent examples of unions flexing their bargaining muscle has business groups concerned and it will be a key challenge for the Opposition Leader to calm fears of a return to unrestrained union influence.

Health and education

Health and education are the bread and butter of election campaigns for Labor. Expect big ‘cash splash’ announcements on hospitals and emergency services as part of Labor’s election pitch.

Self-funded retirees and families

Labor has an uphill battle to inoculate voters against fears that it plans to gut negative gearing, used by many mum and dad investors as a vehicle to save for their future.

Labor has also startled the horses with its policy to abolish franking credits for everyone except age pensioners. While it argues the policy is a budget repair measure, the Party has been accused of ‘milking’ self-funded retirees who have traditionally formed part of the Coalition’s voter base.

Coalition

Economic management

A real problem for the Coalition is that the maelstrom they have created around leadership has dulled voters to any positive messaging, including on economic management.

The Coalition’s budget repair measures, fiscal management and spending on infrastructure have been seen as a positive by the business community. Selling this message to voters has been virtually impossible thanks to the negative noise of leadership issues.

Border protection

Although the Coalition’s border protection strategies have been effective, the issue of boat arrivals has fallen further and further down the list of concerns for voters. While still a key platform for the Coalition, there are questions as to how effective the issue will be in attracting votes, and whether it could generate backlash from the Party’s progressive voters, as witnessed in Wentworth.

Power prices

Power prices have become the number one cost of living issue for voters. The abject failure of all levels of government across the country to lock in affordable and reliable electricity for the future has voters seeing red.

While consumers like the idea of renewable energy, consistent polling shows they don’t want to have to sell the farm to pay for electricity. If the Coalition can capitalise on this and forge a policy that will lock in affordable and reliable power prices, it could provide the boost they need to become competitive with Labor in May.