If 2019 was a one-person Morrison band, the 2022 offering has officially become an ensemble performance.
It wasn’t always intended that way.
Just months ago, 2022 looked much like 2019, with a prime minister facing an unlikely reelection starting a solo sprint into Election Day.
But just after a recent campaign restart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, trailing in the polls and with weak personal popularity, has used his campaign launch to elevate those who will serve alongside him in the hopes that it will help him to another snap election to win.
After rearranging himself in recent days, Morrison arrived at his Brisbane launch, pledging that if reelected, his “bulldozer” methods would be behind him, promising to be more of a consensus leader.
He spoke at length about his team but almost admitted that while he may know in parts of the community, his coalition may still have enough support to secure another term.
Scott Morrison paid tribute to his ministers when he ran for reelection.
Morrison’s pitch, who established himself as prime minister in wartime, started in a place this campaign has largely ignored – the pandemic.
Before taking the stage, a well-produced promotional video was played, taking viewers back to the darkest and earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, reminding viewers of a period of great uncertainty, a country on the brink of closure. And faces a dangerous future.
“I had one focus as your prime minister – saving the country,” he told liberal believers.
“And we did.”
The prime minister looked to the future with the past and repeatedly asked voters to give him a second term, ignoring that his nearly decade-old coalition government is pursuing its fourth term in office.
“I’m looking for a second term because I’m just warming up,” he said.
Making a pitch for potential homeowners
Anthony Albanese launched Labor’s campaign two weeks earlier in Perth, a city with seats Labor must win to form a government.
Morrison’s coalition used a different strategy, moving towards a state where its 2019 “miracle” election brought with it many seats it must now defend if it wants to stay in power.
But when he chose last Sunday to make his final pitch to voters, Morrison did so after more than 2.5 million votes had already been cast.
So everything he said yesterday, and the new policies he unveiled, have been lost to these voters.
His main announcement was aimed at first-time homebuyers after he revealed changes earlier in the day targeting tax incentives to encourage older Australians to downsize their homes.
If re-elected, the coalition would allow first-time home buyers to loot up to $50,000, or 40 percent, of their pensions to get on the market.
“It’s your money,” Morrison said repeatedly.
The money is withdrawn, plus some capital gains should be returned to the retirement accounts when the house is sold.
Former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard attended the launch. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)
Housing was a core theme of this campaign. With prices setting records and interest rates rising, there is growing frustration in the community that a generation of Australians could be locked out of the market.
“Superannuation is there to help Australians retire,” he said.
“The evidence shows that the best way to help Australians achieve security in retirement is to help them own their own home.”
Morrison goes to the polls as the cost of living rises amid a war in Eastern Europe and an ever-expanding China in Asia-Pacific.
But if he wants to tackle those issues, he’ll have to convince voters to back him again.
“Better days are coming, but we can’t take them for granted,” he warned.
“I know our economic plans work because Australians work.”
Josh Frydenberg was ordered to go after Labor leader Anthony Albanese. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)
Unscripted moment highlights the liberal challenge.
Morrison almost ignored the Albanian in his 51-minute speech. Destroying the Labor leader was left to Morrison’s deputy, treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
“Politics is serious business,” he said.
“You change the government, and you change the economy. And the economy is fundamental to everything.
“These elections are not the time to risk Labor with a weak and unproven leader.”
But it was an unwritten joke at the beginning of Frydenberg’s speech that exposed the struggles that both he and the coalition are waging.
“I wish I got that reception in Kooyong,” he said as the crowd cheered for his arrival on stage.
Frydenberg is a potential Liberal leader if the coalition is removed from office.
But he will have to win his seat to do so – something far from certain as he enters the fray of his political life.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce addressed the Liberal launch. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)
Frydenberg and other moderates in a once-safe seat in the traditional liberal heartland could be out of work within a week.
They will not have lost them to a Labor opposition but to the so-called teal independents, women who are socially progressive, economically conservative, pro-climate, and pro-integrity.
The VVD likes to call itself a broad church, but that claim is weakening daily.
That many teal candidates are not active as liberals (despite being former members in some cases) is a sign of how conservative and masculine the party has become.
They should be liberals, but the party has left them behind in its march to the right.
Morrison has been instrumental in driving the moderates out of his party.
If nothing changes, they can do him a favor in just under a week and oust him from office.
Posted 9 hours ago Sun 15 May 2022 at 7:35 AM, Updated 3 hours ago Sun 15 May 2022 at 1:30 PM