Analysis by Malcolm Farr of

The Australian election has already produced two distinct campaign characters who want to be prime minister after May 18.

A stark factor of the contest so far has been the contrast between the proud ordinariness of office holder Scott Morrison and the disciplined grimness of contender Bill Shorten.

Both men have personalities much more complex than that but are obliged to appeal to voters in the two-dimension limitations of campaign snippets.


Morrison is the non-threatening football fan with dad jokes, a vast cap wardrobe, and metaphors such as his recourse to a "bubble" as the receptacle for unwanted or uncomfortable issues.

All with an immovable grin.

Shorten doesn't look like he is having as much fun as Morrison and his dourness matches the serious topic of cancer, which he has been talking about for the past week.

It is not easy to find the lighter side of tumours.

And they have differing priorities. One man is not well known; the other might be too well known.

Morrison has to introduce himself to an electorate who woke up one morning last August to find he suddenly was Prime Minister. He had been Treasurer and in charge of border protection, but wasn't known in the detail we want from a head of government. He handled big issues such as budgets and managing asylum seekers, but always from the second rank of political leadership.

Shorten's difficulty was in another direction.

As Labor leader for close to six years, he is well known to voters, a significant number of whom have consistently had reservations about him.

Those doubts in part were created or nurtured by the introduction many voters had to Shorten.

That introduction was the trade union royal commission — called out of political motives in the hope, not delivered, he and former PM Julia Gillard would have their careers terminally tarnished by its findings.

While there was no royal commission big hit, Shorten emerged as a deal maker — a political bargain hunter.

Possibly because of the reservations, and the cause of diversity, Shorten travels with women offsiders. He had Senator Kristina Keneally on his campaign bus, is frequently announcing policy with health spokeswoman Catherine King, while deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek is prominent in the campaign.

And wife Chloe travels with him when possible.

Jenny Morrison appeared with her husband at a mental health policy announcement he made on Friday, but basically Morisson has been a one-man operation.

Last week he appeared on the NSW coast with Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash, which in retrospect might not have been a master tactic after she insisted Labor wanted to deny tradies their utes, a suggestion which died with her departure from the Morrison convoy.

The two leaders' styles will not divide the election but will be important in the critical factor of trust.

Both are making promises involving billions of dollars spread over a decade in bids to win the faith of voters who don't trust politicians to do the right thing the day after tomorrow.