Aaaaaaand they’re off!
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has visited the Governor General in Canberra, and Australia now knows for sure what we’d all suspected for some time, we’re heading to the polls on 2 July.
This will be the first double dissolution election in almost thirty years, which in practical terms mean voters will choose an entirely new parliament (instead of the usual full House and half Senate election).
It will be an unusually long eight-week campaign, which will no doubt leave Australians limping to the polling-booth/finish-line, too tired even to add onions to their election day sausage. In fact, it is expected that almost a quarter of us will cast our vote in advance of the actual election day, at one of the many pre-polling stations.
PM Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Liberal Leader, Julie Bishop today. Image via Getty.
The parties head into the campaign period basically neck-and-neck, with the most recent opinion polls putting Labor and the Coalition at 50/50.
While Malcolm Turnbull still leads in the preferred Prime Minister stakes and is the favourite with most bookies, Bill Shorten has been setting the policy agenda of late and Turnbull certainly doesn't go into this election with the strength or popularity he once had.
This contest is anyone's to win.
So what should we expect from the two months of political hysteria ahead?
1. "Trust me, I'm Malcolm-freaking-Turnbull!"
Despite the shine wearing off a little, rock-star candidate Malcolm Turnbull remains highly regarded by the electorate.
He took the Prime Ministership to a loud sigh of relief across the country and that public good will remains. This means you can expect that the Coalition will run a 'presidential style' campaign; they'll focus their messaging very much on the individual man in charge.
They're hoping that the assurance of Malcolm Turnbull's polished persona and calm, authoritative style will give him the edge over Labor's Bill Shorten when voters compare the pair. In other words? Malcolm just looks and feels more prime ministerial.
Listen to our go-to political correspondent, Jamila Rizvi, talk about the upcoming election. (Post continues after audio.)
2. It's all about the money, money, money.
The Coalition have historically held the mantle of superior economic managers and they'll be looking to capitalise on that in this election campaign.
They're going to be promoting tax cuts for individuals and small business, while asking voters to decide who they 'trust' to best manage the economy. In this regard, the Coalition's campaign will be similar to the one John Howard ran successfully against Mark Latham in 2004. Labor's economic policies will be framed as risky and Bill Shorten - the man behind the removal of Julia Gillard and then of Kevin Rudd - will be characterised as untrustworthy.
Watch Bill Shorten chat to Mamamia. We highly recommend. (Post continues after video.)
3. "Same shit, different smell".
While the Coalition talk about trust, Labor will be questioning why anyone should trust a party who, until a few months ago, had Tony Abbott as their leader.
Labor will want to keep the Coalition chained to the negative legacy of their former leader. They'll be pointing to Malcolm Turnbull's inability as Prime Minister to pursue the progressive policy agenda he personally believes in.
Labor will aim to package up the two years of Tony Abbott and six months of Malcolm together, tie a shiny red ribbon around it, before presenting it to the public and asking: Really? Are you sure?
4. You get a policy, you get a policy, EVERYONE GETS A POLICY!
Labor goes into this election setting the policy agenda, something Bill Shorten and his team have done very skilfully over the past six months with announcements on school funding, negative gearing and a royal commission into the banks.
Labor's advertising strategy in the early weeks will see them present the electorate with a 100 policy plan for a better Australia. Now that may sound like a confusing mess but the intention here is to show that Labor has done the hard work when it comes to policy development.
Moreover, all those new policies will combine to tell a single story: That a fairer Australia is a better Australia for everyone.
Bill Shorten delivering his budget reply speech. Image via Getty.
5. There will be an awful lot of talk about 'hats'.
The media will report this election as a contest between the 'hard hats' and the 'top hats'. This was a phrase coined by Channel Seven's Mark Riley a few weeks ago and it's since been widely adopted by political commentators.
What it means is that Labor will criticise the Coalition as being in the pockets of business and only serving the interests of the top end of town. Whereas the Coalition will frame Labor as beholden to the union movement and unable to handle the challenge of managing an economy.
The metaphor plays out on a personal level too when you contrast self-made millionaire banker Malcolm Turnbull with former union boss Bill Shorten.
Mark Riley coined this "hats" term. Image via Channel 7.
6. Queenslanders? Hide your babies.
An election campaign always means big-name politicians zig-zagging the country in an effort to rally voters but this year, expect to see lots of Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull talking on TV with sunny skies in the background.
The key battleground state for this election will once again be Queensland, home to the greatest number of potentially swinging electorates. If you're a new mother, then you'll want to be keeping that baby's head out of the eye-line of opportunistic politicians who will want to cover it with kisses.
Our nation's largest state, New South Wales, and South Australia, where Senator Nick Xenophon has formed his own political party and will run multiple candidates, will also be a focus.
7. Lots and lots and lots of mistakes.
Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are both seasoned politicians but neither has led their political party to an election before. They're both newbies to being at the forefront of a relentless and exhausting national election campaign. Add to the equation a 24/7 media cycle that plays out in live-time on social media and an extra three weeks of campaigning? And you've got yourself a high likelihood for error. Stay tuned because no leader will make it through eight weeks gaffe free.
Political commentators love saying that anything could happen in an election campaign.
But on this occasion? It's actually true.