Scott Morrison calls Australian elections for May 21st

Scott Morrison has launched his campaign to become the first Australian Prime Minister in a generation to win a second term after calling general elections on May 21.

Trailing the opposition Labor Party in the polls, the Morrison coalition government faces a difficult task of closing the gap in a six-week election campaign punctuated by Easter and other bank holidays.

The election sets the stage for a bitter struggle that will test Australia’s appetite for change seeks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and forging closer ties with allies in the Indo-Pacific.

Morrison said outside Parliament in Canberra that now is not the time to “risk” a change of course. “It’s a choice between a government you know and a Labor opposition you don’t know,” he said.

He is the first Australian Prime Minister to serve a full term since John Howard lost the 2007 election. Four subsequent prime ministers were ousted at half-time by leadership challenges within their own parties.

But Morrison, who celebrated a “miracle” election victory three years ago when he fell from behind in the polls, has been the target of damaging personal attacks from his own party in recent weeks, handing the initiative to opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

“Morrison has made 2019 a referendum on Labor reform plans. Albanese turned this election into a referendum on the government’s performance. That’s smart,” said Mark Kenny, a professor at the Australian National University.

A Roy Morgan survey The report released last week showed that Labor had increased its lead over Morrison’s coalition government to 57 percent from 43 percent when the election between the two main parties took place.

Morrison’s Liberal Party will focus on the strong post-pandemic economic recovery and rising geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region. Morrison’s government has increased military spending and intervened harder line towards China by forging the Auku’s alliance with the US and UK.

The Prime Minister has attacked Labour’s reluctance ahead of the election. Albanese, a veteran Labor MP, has so far waged a low-risk campaign aimed at turning the election into a vote on Morrison’s popularity rather than his politics. That has caused frustration in Labor circles, who believe he should be more aggressive when it comes to a weakened Morrison.

Albanese, who has been bidding to become the first Labor prime minister for nearly a decade, has focused on elderly care, health and education in the run-up to the election but has made modest proposals. He has dismissed allegations by the Liberal Party that Labor is raising taxes.

Australia has struggled with the pandemic, catastrophic bushfires and flooding over the past two years, but the government has remained in “chaos”, Albanese said after the elections were called. “If we come out of this, Australians deserve better,” he said.

Forced to face the attacks of his own peers as he launched his campaign, Morrison said: “Our government is not perfect, it never said it was.” He acknowledged the problems with his personal popularity. “I understand people are fed up with politics,” he added. Scott Morrison calls Australian elections for May 21st

Adam Bradshaw

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