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Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s conservative prime minister sounded the gun in the final round of a hard-fought election campaign on Sunday, admitting “not everything went to plan” during the country’s pandemic response.
At an official launch of his party’s election campaign ahead of the May 21 vote, Tory Scott Morrison acknowledged missteps during the crisis but said ‘Australia prevailed’
In reality, the campaign trail has been underway for months, if not years, but the event offered Morrison a chance to rally the party’s base and appeal to voters who seem poised to oust him after three tumultuous years in office. able.
According to the latest opinion polls, the centre-left Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is expected to win Saturday’s vote.
But both parties know that a surprise is always possible.
Morrison’s tenure has been beset by a continuing series of crises, from climate-fueled droughts, bushfires and floods to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was one of the toughest times we’ve ever had,” Morrison said, while insisting the country was “heading in the right direction now.”
The 54-year-old from the affluent eastern suburbs of Sydney has come under fire for a glacial vaccine deployment which ensured Australia’s borders were closed for the better part of two years.
He also faces anger over the government‘s handling of natural disasters and its reluctance to move away from fossil fuels.
Polls consistently show around 70 per cent of Australians want more action on climate change, but Morrison has repeatedly rejected calls for ambitious climate targets or the reduction of the country’s vast coal industry.
Seeking to make the election a choice rather than a referendum on its leadership, Morrison portrayed Labor as “loose units” on the economy and an Albanian premiership as an “experiment”.
To sweeten the deal, Morrison also announced plans to allow first-time buyers to use their retirement savings to buy a home.
The policy is likely to be popular among young Australians struggling to access an overfed property market, but is also likely to fuel further house price inflation.
© 2022 AFP