Morrison calls for May 21 election, launching battle to stay in power
Published: Apr 10, 2022 06:56 PM
Scott Morrison Photo:Xinhua

Scott Morrison Photo:Xinhua

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison called federal elections for May 21 on Sunday, launching a come-from-behind battle to stay in power after three years rocked by floods, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morrison's conservative government is struggling to woo Australia's 17 million voters, lagging behind the opposition Labor party in a string of opinion polls despite presiding over a rebounding economy with a 13-year low jobless rate of 4 percent. "It's a choice between a strong future and an uncertain one. It's a choice between a government you know and a Labor opposition that you don't," Morrison told a news conference in Canberra.

Polls show much of the electorate distrusts the 53-year-old leader, who fashions himself as a typical Australian family man and is unafraid of advertising his Pentecostal Christian faith.

Aiming to end nine years of Liberal-National Party rule is 59-year-old Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese.

The opposition leader started the six-week race to the poll pushing a message of optimism before highlighting bruising attacks on Morrison's character emanating from his own government.

"He's running in an election campaign, whereby his deputy prime minister has said he's a hypocrite and a liar," Albanese told media in Sydney.

"We can and we must do better. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to imagine a better future and Labor has the policies and plans to shape that future."

A recent Newspoll survey showed Labor leading the coalition 54 percent to 46 percent on a two-party basis. 

Morrison and Albanese were in a statistical tie as preferred prime minister for the next three-year term.

Multiple surveys show the cost of living, with gasoline prices notably soaring since the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, is a key concern ahead of the election, in which voting is compulsory.

Morrison is a strident supporter of Australia's vast fossil fuel industry.

Morrison has defied the odds before, winning what he described as a "miracle" election in May 2019 despite trailing in most polls.