Canberra, Australia ( Associated Press) – Australia’s beleaguered prime minister on Sunday officially launched his Conservative Party campaign, less than a week before the election, highlighting the country’s early success in the pandemic and its robust economic recovery. was put.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s coalition has outperformed the centre-left Labor Party’s opposition in most opinion polls as the administration seeks a rare fourth three-year term in elections on Saturday.
Morrison focused the party’s introduction on economic management, which has traditionally been regarded as a strength of his conservative Liberal Party.
He described the choice as “a choice between a strong economy or a weak one that only makes your life harder, not better.”
“A choice between a stronger future or a more uncertain one in an already very uncertain world,” Morrison said.
The government is counting on voters to become familiar rather than change after the turmoil of a series of disasters of almost biblical proportions since the last election in 2019.
Along with the pandemic, Australians have been hit by unprecedented wildfires, floods, droughts, heat waves and a rat plague.
Morrison’s government was widely praised for keeping Australia’s COVID-19 death toll relatively low in the first two years of the pandemic. But more transmissible variants have overwhelmed defenses and Australia now has one of the world’s highest infection rates.
Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic was quicker and stronger than that of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, a government minister claimed at the launch of the campaign.
But rising inflation has made the cost of living for Australians, including the cost of housing, a major election issue.
Morrison announced on Sunday that a re-elected government would allow Australians to use their retirement funds to buy homes, an option that government leaders have rejected for decades.
The controversial policy could lead to a rise in housing prices, which rose 24% last year and are a significant driver of inflation.
Labor’s campaign spokesman Jason Clare denounced the policy, calling it “adding fuel to the fire.”
Morrison’s waning personal popularity is being seen as a hindrance to his government’s chances of re-election since Australia’s vaccine rollout fell months behind schedule last year.
Morrison’s critics say he acknowledged his popularity was a liability to his government last week, promising to become a more sympathetic leader if he is re-elected.
Morrison said the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic had forced him to be “a bit of a bulldozer” during his first term as prime minister.
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese responded that “even Scott Morrison is distancing himself from Scott Morrison.”
“This prime minister will not change, so we need to change the government,” Albanese said.
Albanese took part in a Labor rally in Brisbane, the same city in the state of Queensland where Morrison had launched his party’s campaign.
Queensland is the key to the election. The government holds 23 out of 30 seats in the coal-rich state. Labour, which has more ambitious plans to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, has only six seats and none outside Brisbane, the state capital and largest city.
Labor launched its campaign last week in Western Australia, the other major mining state where the government also has a large number of seats. In the iron ore state, the government has 11 and the labor five.
Morrison takes comfort in his narrow victory against opinion poll forecasts in the 2019 election.
The split of votes between Government and Labor in 2019 was 51.5% to 48.5% – mirroring the opposite of the result that predicted Australia’s five most major elections.
An investigation by the apex body of Australia’s market and social research industry found that Labor voters were over-represented in survey samples.
The 2020 study could not determine whether “herding,” a process in which polluters manipulate results to match the results of others and avoid harming the credibility of just one wrong, played a role in the 2019 failure. played because the polluters refused to disclose their raw data.