Regular service resumes after ScoMo’s bus blitz
The ScoMo Express bus that accompanied Scott Morrison this week on his blitz of Queensland was yesterday on its way back to the depot, where it will be stripped of advertising decals and returned to regular service.
Ahead of the federal election, the Prime Minister will be hoping he left a longer-lasting impression on voters in the battleground state.
On the final day of his trip north, Mr Morrison yesterday outlined his government’s strategy to retain broader influence in the South Pacific.
It includes a $2 billion bank to provide island nations with cheap infrastructure loans, greater military and police training partnerships and a bid to build closer cultural ties to align islanders with Australian cultural values and stave off growing Chinese influence.
Speaking to soldiers at Townsville’s Lavarack barracks, Mr Morrison said he wanted more Australian television programs broadcast into the South Pacific and shared sporting competitions.
The measures would be funded “from within the budget”, Mr Morrison said.
“I’ve been speaking to Free TV Australia and the commercial TV networks about how we can get more of our Australian content into the region, our Pacific family switching on to the same stories, news, drama and sports we are watching at home,” he said.
“What better way to stay in connection than through the lifestyle and everyday experiences we are all lucky enough to enjoy.”
Mr Morrison said Australia needed to “step up” when it came to its role in the region.
“Australia cannot take its influence in the southwest Pacific for granted.
Sadly, I think that too often we have.
“My government is returning the Pacific to where it should be: front and centre,” he said.
The Australian Defence Force would establish an “enduring, travelling Pacific mobile team” that would train with other forces and respond to humanitarian and disaster matters.
The strategy announcement came ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leader’s summit in Port Moresby next week.
For lower level politics and diplomacy, Mr Morrison was the special guest at Liberal National Party fundraising events in several regional towns.
The ScoMo Express carried him through the southeast Queensland leg, but he ditched it in favour of a plane to get from the Sunshine Coast to Rockhampton.
The bus met him there and took him down to Gladstone for “politics in the pub” before he flew to Townsville on Wednesday for a similar event and to meet Defence personnel.
Scott Morrison inspects an MRH-90 helicopter in Townsville