Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten will debate for the first time in the election campaign on Monday as the latest polls show the race is tightening.
The two leaders will meet face-to-face in Perth at 7pm (AEST) in a debate hosted by the Seven Network and The West Australian.
The coalition hopes putting Mr Shorten in the national spotlight will force undecided voters to make up their minds about the Labor leader.
A Newspoll released on Sunday night in The Australian shows the coalition has narrowed the polling gap with Labor, trailing only 51 per cent to 49 per cent in the two-party preferred vote.
Another debate has been scheduled to be broadcast on Sky News from Brisbane on Friday, but the prime minister has already called for a third debate in prime time.
Mr Shorten wants a third debate to be held at lunchtime at the National Press Club. Mr Morrison released a letter on Sunday evening calling for a third debate to be moderated by ABC journalist Leigh Sales and held in the evening of May 7, 8 or 9.
“A prime-time debate would provide as many Australians as possible, including those who work during the day, the best opportunity to scrutinise the very clear choice on offer at this election,” the letter said.
The letter also says the third debate wouldn’t prevent the two leaders going head-to-head again and doesn’t rule out the Nine Network’s proposal to host a debate.
It’s understood coalition strategists believe putting Mr Shorten in the national spotlight without his key frontbenchers beside him will benefit Mr Morrison.
The coalition leader has regularly tried to make the election contest a personal battle with Mr Shorten, who still trails as preferred prime minister in the polls.
Mr Shorten has relied on his experienced front benchers to support him at press conferences to make sure he is across the details of Labor’s varied policy agenda.