Flat White

Albanese is riding solo

21 April 2022

9:00 AM

21 April 2022

9:00 AM

With around a month left before the federal election, Anthony Albanese finds himself in a similar position that Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in during the last federal election campaign.

When Morrison campaigned as new leader of the Liberal Party in 2018, the party was divided. Tony Abbott had been rolled by Malcolm Turnbull, and then – when Turnbull failed to deliver – Morrison reaped the spoils of a coup he did not orchestrate.

Morrison was front and centre, going in to bat with the intention of hitting a six at every opportunity. In contrast to opposition leader Bill Shorten, Morrison was seen as a more trustworthy choice with a proven record of getting the job done.

Scott Morrison led his campaign with barely any other minister helping to deliver the government’s message. He single-handedly snatched the election from a seemingly unbeatable Shorten in what has been coined a miracle win.

Fast-forward three years. Anthony Albanese is in a similar spot, but interestingly he is not sitting as well with public opinion.

With the campaigning in full swing, Albanese is beginning to reveal his lack of depth and attention to detail, stumbling on the very first day of campaigning where he fumbled the current unemployment rate (it’s 4 per cent and likely to drop) and was oblivious to the official interest rate.

Albanese claims to be an economist, but with such a fail he places himself in the category of ‘risky’ to a public who long remember Paul Keating’s recession and massive interest rates, then onto Treasurer Wayne Swan, who plunged Australia into debt after inheriting a large surplus.

With the hard questions now flying in Albanese’s direction, it is evident that he simply is not prepared for what lies ahead. The rigours of not only a tough campaign, but the impending live election debates serve to highlight the talents and weaknesses of each leader.

The easy stuff is knowing the current unemployment rate, and the significance that Albanese didn’t know it should not be underplayed, even if he wants to ‘shake it off’, as he put it.

One also only needs to go back to 2015, when Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, was completely caught out by Sky News Australia host, Alan Jones, asking Bowen what the tax rates were in the various income brackets, with Bowen embarrassingly sidestepping the question.

During the initial stages of the pandemic, Morrison’s approval ratings remained steady, having sheltered the economy with Job Keeper and stimulus spending. Albanese, as opposition leader, had little airtime as the pandemic dominated the news. Albanese seemed to be resigned to the fact that he was treading water until his inevitable defeat, whenever Morrison chose to call an election.

Morrison had his own battles, with the latest being a ‘slow to act’ on calling a national emergency for the extreme floods this year. A revitalised Albanese slowly awakened from his torpor and began talking like he actually wanted the top job.

As the call for the election grew near, the Labor Party was rocked by allegations of bullying (that they deny) by three high profile senators, Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally, and Katy Gallagher, coined the ‘Mean Girl’s’. Albanese’s attempts to defend the trio began his unravelling.

While trying to portray the Labor Party as one devoid of bullying and harassment, it’s obvious that merely saying it has not been enough. Because the allegations are still fresh in voter’s memories, it is bound to play a part in people’s decision on whether Albanese and his members, are a safe vote.

Albanese has just over a month to try not to look like he is winging it, and to attempt to look like he is the real deal for the next three years ahead.

With the usual faces in the Labor team keeping a low profile during his election campaign, the pressure is on for Albanese to show his courage and convictions to be strong enough to back his policies, and to lead from the front. Otherwise, Morrison has already got it won.

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