Undecided? Gaffes be gone. Here's the Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese leaders contest

Both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have proved they need to "Google it mate" by being unable to remember significant figures. They will likely need to keep Googling or leaning on advisers throughout the rest of the election campaign.

Everything including a ukulele is being thrown at Mr Morrison's campaign, while Mr Albanese has been playing a very careful game of being a no-surprises, "me too", small target Opposition leader.

Both campaigns are now running in attack mode. It's negative land as the leaders seek to remind us of the faults and flaws of his opponent.

But gaffes and gotchas aside - and with little policy to debate and the election focussing on character, trust, integrity and perhaps taking a punt on someone new - who are these two men running this presidential-style race to be prime minister?

After calling the election Scott Morrison does a live cross at Coolangatta Estate winery near Shoalhaven Heads. Picture: James Croucher

After calling the election Scott Morrison does a live cross at Coolangatta Estate winery near Shoalhaven Heads. Picture: James Croucher

It is very personal as this election will likely be the last roll of the dice for both leaders. Attacks have been coming from their own sides including from a Liberal Senator who explosively declared Mr Morrison was "unfit to be Prime Minister", while the Labor side remains unsettled in the wake of Senator Kimberley Kitching's death in March.

A lot is known about Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese, but a fair bit is manufactured as well. And why should this election be any different from any other? Does anyone ever truly know who our political leaders are?

The political and ideological rivals have very little in common apart from both spending time in the background in organisational roles for their parties. At 53 and 59 years respectively, both men are from Sydney, are virtually religious about NRL, and both have smallish dogs but that is where they deviate.

Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Hogan Engineering in Mulgrave, western Sydney, in the first days of the campaign. Picture: James Croucher

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Hogan Engineering in Mulgrave, western Sydney, in the first days of the campaign. Picture: James Croucher

The Prime Minister is a former NSW Liberal party director and Tourism Australia boss (who lost that job after clashing with the tourism minister) who was responsible for the controversial 2004 "Where the bloody hell are you?" campaign and who's image is carefully crafted as a NRL Sharks loving, curry cooking, chicken-run building, Pentecostal family man.

"If people want to sneer at me for that, if they want to sneer at me for other things like playing the ukulele, fine, they're sneering at millions of Australians who just get on with their lives and do a great job," he told Sydney radio in February.

Mr Morrison is married to his high school sweetheart Jenny Warren. They have two daughters, Abbey and Lily, and a black schnoodle Buddy. His dad John was a policeman and served as mayor of Waverley in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

He is devout. He said this week that his faith has "informed me, encouraged me, guided me, over my entire life."

Mr Morrison has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW with honours in Applied Economic Geography. He wrote his thesis on the Christian Brethren church. Coming from moderate ranks, he is now aligned with the centre-right faction of the Liberal Party, is a social conservative and has sway over a prayer group of like-minded colleagues at Parliament House.

"From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others," he said in his maiden speech in 2007.

"To fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family.

"We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil.

Mr Morrison has presided over controversial strong-man Coalition policies, included the secretive military-led Operation Sovereign Borders while immigration minister. He proudly has a "I stopped these" migrant boat trophy on his desk. He was also social services minister when the unlawful and punishing Robodebt scheme was conceived. In Parliament, he taunted the opposition while holding a lump of coal, stating "This is coal. Don't be afraid. Don't be scared. It won't hurt you."

While personal attacks from the Opposition are par the course, it is the brutal character assessments from his own side of late that have been most telling.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Mr Morrison has been called a liar by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, and French President Emmanuel Macron. Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has not denied calling him, in a leaked text message, a "horrible, horrible person", although she has no recollection of the message. An unnamed Liberal in that exchange labelled him a "fraud" and a "complete psycho".

On budget night, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells - disappointed to be cast to an unwinnable position on the NSW Senate ticket - tipped the bucket further under parliamentary privilege, declaring Mr Morrison was "without a moral compass", had "ruined the NSW Liberal Party", was a "bully" and "unfit" for high office. And there are allegations he used race in controversial tactics 15 years ago to oust a political rival, Michael Towke, when running for preselection.

Mr Morrison denied he used Mr Towke's Lebanese background against him or helped spread false rumours he was a Muslim. He said these are "malicious and bitter slurs" from rivals and suggested people "look at their motivations".

Labor wants to exploit perceptions that Mr Morrison has a problem with honesty when he wants to pin his election hopes on trust. His reflex, when under attack, is often to shift responsibility to others. He, "does not hold a hose."

"For goodness sake, people want a prime minister who will just do their job," Mr Albanese told the ABC in February.

The Prime Minister responded in Parliament, "This job is all about strength. This job is all about strength, Mr Speaker."

Anthony Albanese

Labor leader Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon at Byron Bay Bluesfest after the first week of the campaign. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Labor leader Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon at Byron Bay Bluesfest after the first week of the campaign. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Two years into the Labor leader's job and after almost 26 years in Federal Parliament, Mr Albanese has been painted as an "unknown entity" but he has always been there. That comes with trying to be "no surprises". To others, the Opposition leader has been pinged as a bit too bland. See also "no surprises".

"Vanilla is in fact the most popular flavour of ice cream. So, I'll take it as a win," Mr Albanese told Sydney FM radio in February.

The Morrison government is painting the Labor leader as too much of a risk, particularly on national security and on economic management. So the attacks are over him being "hard left", in alliance with the Greens alliance and him cosying up to China. Oh and not knowing his economic figures.

"With Anthony Albanese what you see is not what you're going to get. What you see on the other side of the election is what you'll get," the Prime Minister told Sydney radio 2GB in February.

The Labor leader is Mr Working Class Inner City Sydney. As Albo or DJ Albo, he champions craft beer and vinyl records and he is fixated on his Rabbitohs NRL team. He is a non-practising Catholic and social progressive who has had to, at times, focus on aircraft noise in his electorate. But beyond his Sydney seat of Grayndler, he has been summed up as that Labor guy who is not Bill Shorten. He's needs the attention of voters to sharpen as polling date nears.

Mr Albanese is the son of a single mum, Maryanne, on a disability support pension. He grew up inner city council housing not knowing his dad. He thought Carlo Albanese was dead until he was 14. He managed later in life to meet his dad in Italy. He comes from three generations of rank and file Labor party members and was taken under the wing of local Labor figure and Whitlam minister Tom Uren. He got his first taste of politics as a 12-year-old organising a successful rent strike and joined Labor at 16. Completing an economics degree, he is the first in his family to earn a tertiary qualification.

"Indeed, my politics as a democratic socialist have been developed from my experience in life," he said in his 1996 maiden speech.

"For myself, I will be satisfied if I can be remembered as someone who will stand up for the interests of my electorate, for working class people, for the labour movement, and for our progressive advancement as a nation into the next century."

ELECTION UNDER THE MICROSCOPE:

And in 2013 explaining his love for Labor, "I like fighting Tories. That's what I do."

The Labor leader is divorced from former NSW deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt. They were together for 30 years and they have a son Nathan. He has a newish partner Jodie Haydon and they are increasingly being seen in public as a couple.

The former deputy prime minister is of Labor's more progressive Left faction, while to Mr Morrison he "comes from the far left of the Labor party". If the ALP wins in 2022, Mr Albanese will be the first Left leader to lead the party to victory from opposition.

Saying he wanted to be "match-fit" for the election, he has physically overhauled himself over the past 18 months; losing weight, ditching most alcohol and changing style. A close call, head-on car accident in Sydney in early 2021 also changed his world view.

"It's amazing what having a head-on argument with a Range Rover will do to your perspective," Mr Albanese said last June.

The Labor leader wants to be a Bob Hawke-style consensus prime minister. To this, he said in November of his counterpart: "I think what people are sick of is divisiveness, is a prime minister who attacks some state premiers and defends others who are doing exactly the same thing."

Anthony Albanese kickstarted his election campaign in Launceston. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Anthony Albanese kickstarted his election campaign in Launceston. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Being a small target has frustrated the Coalition, especially the Prime Minister. Mr Albanese has been called soft and an "each way bet".

"The leader of the Labor Party likes to think he is a small target. That is his plan. All he is is small, Mr Speaker, and he is diminishing by the day. He is diminishing by the day," Mr Morrison told Parliament February.

This story Beyond the gaffes: These are the men vying to be prime minister first appeared on The Canberra Times.