Tuesday, July 16, 2024

‘This Election Is About You’: Australia’s Prime Minister Calls Election

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared that the federal election will take place on Saturday, May 21.

In his first pitch to Australians, officially kicking off his reelection campaign, Morrison on Sunday asked voters to focus on his cabinet’s performance during the pandemic and its contribution to post-pandemic economic recovery.

He stressed that the upcoming election campaign is “incredibly important” because “there is so much at stake for Australia” amid a strained global economic outlook and rising authoritarianism.

“This election is about you … It’s about our country, and it’s about its future,” he said. “It’s a choice between a strong economy and a Labor opposition that would weaken it.

“It’s a choice between a strong and tested government team that has demonstrated our ability to make difficult and tough choices in tough times, and a Labor opposition who has been so focused on politics over these past few years.”

According to polling, Morrison is again reported to be tracking behind his Labor opponent in public opinion. However, despite being behind the polls in the last election, Scomo proceeded to win, which he attributed to “quiet Australians” who weren’t captured accurately by polling companies.

Morrison continued in his election pitch by acknowledging that his government has not been perfect and had not promised to be, but said that Australians can “see what we have achieved for Australia in incredibly difficult times.”

“We are upfront,” he said.

He said that under his leadership, Australia’s unemployment rate stands at 4 percent—“the lowest level in some 48 years”—while electricity prices are down by 8 percent over the last two years under the centre-right Coalition government’s policies, while taxes are lower for businesses and families.

He warned of higher taxes under a Labor government, pointing to the centre-left opposition’s “track record” of poor financial management.

He added that his government’s COVID-19 health response has “saved, compared to other countries, tens of thousands of lives,” while its COVID-19 economic measures, especially Job Keeper, have saved some 700,000 jobs.

His government has also invested in Australia’s defense and security, secured the long-awaited free trade agreement with India, and partnered with allies including the United States under QUAD in a “world that is less stable than at any other time since the Second World War,” he noted.

“That’s what my team has delivered,” he said.

Responding to Morrison’s election pitch, opposition leader Anthony Albanese pushed back on government comments about a Labor party that “still can’t tell you what they do, who they are, or what they believe in, and what they stand for.”

He said the comments “just don’t stack up,” adding that if elected, his government would be “a government that reflects the decency, compassion, and courage of the Australian people” as well as “the most experienced incoming Labor government in history.”

“My experience is I’ve been acting prime minister, I’ve been deputy prime minister, I chaired the Parliamentary business committee for six years,” he said.

The Labor leader talked about his childhood of growing up in public housing and being the son of a single mum, through which he had learned “the value of a dollar,” and “the importance of resilience.”

“I am who I am. I am a working-class lad from my background, I’ve been shaped by it, I am someone who, I believe, is very much in touch with mainstream Australia,” he said in his election pitch.

Albanese, who has been serving in federal Parliament for 26 years, promised more secure work and better paying jobs, to invest more in green energies and achieve net-zero, to strengthen Medicare, deliver more affordable childcare, support Australian manufacturing and becoming more self reliant to improve “security at home and aboard,” as well as establish an anti-corruption commission to end the “waste and rorts.”

“I won’t go missing when the going gets tough. I will accept the responsibility that comes with high office. I will lead a government that repays and rewards your hard work,” Albanese said. “I am humbled to put myself forward as prime minister of this great nation.”

The opposition leader made no mention of his party’s defence policy, despite the government already criticising his party for being weak on China.

In a TV advertisement aired on Sunday, the opposition leader criticised the incumbent government for its “skyrocketing” debt, which has been a result of its COVID-19 support spending, and asserted his party will keep taxes low by “getting spending under control.”

He did not provide details on how the Labor party plans to achieve this.

Throughout the pandemic, the Labor party has criticised the government for not providing enough support to needy Australians soon enough.

Albanese has accused Morrison and NSW Liberals of pursuing a “let it rip” approach to the pandemic when the governments moved to lifts restrictions on the public, choosing instead to allow individuals make their own decisions on what precautions to adopt while balancing their physical, mental, and financial health.

Both Morrison and Albanese are tipped to commence their campaigning in Australia’s regional areas where marginal seats are up for grabs or need defending.

The Coalition currently holds 76 out of the 151 seats in the Lower House, while 40 seats in the upper house are in contention this round in a half-Senate election.

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Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at nina.nguyen@epochtimes.com.au.

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