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Former PM claims polls underestimate Coalition

Former prime minister John Howard addresses the media at a press conference during a visit to Brookfield Gardens in Brisbane, Thursday, April 28, 2022. (AAP Image/Russell Freeman) NO ARCHIVING

(AAP Image/Russell Freeman)

John Howard believes the latest polling is understating the Liberal-Nationals coalition vote ahead of the May 21 election.

But the former Liberal prime minister admits the election will be "very tight".

A poll conducted by YouGov for The Australian predicts Labor would win government with 80 seats in the lower house, leaving the coalition with 63 seats and an eight-member cross bench.

"It has understated the coalition vote," Mr Howard told the Nine Network on Thursday.

"But it will be very tight. Anybody with any brain on our side will recognise that."

Mr Howard, the host of a new documentary about Sir Robert Menzies - who served as Australia's prime minister between 1939 and 1941, and again from 1949 to 1966 - said a lot of the fundamentals of government had not changed since that era.

"People still want the country's economy well managed, they still want strong national defences," he said

"People ... want somebody there who knows how to run things, economically, and they do want somebody there who knows what we need to do to defend ourselves."

His comments came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the northern Tasmania seat of Bass where he announced more than $55 million will go to mental health and suicide prevention support and services in the state over the next five years.

The Morrison government will spend $45.6 million, with the Tasmanian government providing $9.4 million in-kind.

The bulk of the funding will go to three new Head to Health satellite clinics in Burnie, Devonport and Outer Hobart, with ongoing funding for the state's first Head to Health centre in Launceston.

There will also be funding for children's services and three eating disorder day programs.

Mr Morrison said an agreement with the state government would ensure Tasmanians had access to more support, when and where they needed it.

It is estimated the federal health department will spend $6.8 billion on mental health and suicide prevention services and support in 2022/23.

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