49 Huge hurdle for ScoMo
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison faces the biggest challenge in Australian politics. The odds are stacked against him with the Liberal brand on the nose, the party fractured along ideological lines and members jumping ship.
And a federal election flogging is in the offing after Labor’s landslide victory in the Victorian state election last weekend.
Mr Morrison has just a few months to show that his government deserves to be re-elected.
He cannot afford any missteps in belatedly bringing the party together and articulating a clear vision that is focused on issues that matter — such as jobs, infrastructure and cost-ofliving pressures.
Despite the polls looking grim for the Coalition, next May’s election is not yet a fait accompli. But it will be if this government doesn’t refocus on the job at hand.
It is critical that the Morrison Government learns from the state election that the public is only concerned with issues directly affecting their lives.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Herald Sun, marking 100 days as Prime Minister, Mr Morrison was candid in acknowledging the achievements of Daniel Andrews’ government and why it was reelected convincingly in Victoria.
“To read so much into that would be, frankly, to fail to recognise the significant achievement of the government in Victoria,” he said.
“Many Victorians didn’t even consider the Liberal Party, simply because they thought Dan Andrews was doing a good job.”
There have been positives in Mr Morrison’s first 100 days, including fixing the damaging Catholic and independent school-sector funding problem, injecting $2 billion into the small-business sector and establishing a royal commission into aged care.
And he has maintained a comfortable lead as preferred prime minister over Bill Shorten.
However, these achievements have been overshadowed by the continued division, leaking and infighting among Coalition MPs.
A significant accomplishment is the government returning the economy to surplus, ahead of schedule, in the coming April Budget.
But that announcement, of the first surplus in a decade, barely registered with voters as the news cycle was dominated by Victorian MP Julia Banks quitting the Liberal Party on the same day.
Mr Morrison can expect more MPs to become independents if they think it will improve their chances of being re-elected.
Our view is that it’s wrong to jump ship when the going gets tough and abandon the party that got you elected. It’s a betrayal of not only colleagues but, far more importantly, it’s a betrayal of the voters who elected you on that party’s ticket.
Members of parliament must learn it’s a privilege to form government and serve their country, not an avenue to engage in factional games where leaders are chucked out willy-nilly.
The Liberal Party needs to be a broad church but one that is true to its ethos. In recent years it seems to have lost sight of the core Liberal values of free enterprise and the reward system, whereby the harder you work the more you get ahead.
Mr Morrison told the Sunday Herald Sun that the silent majority who worked hard and contributed to the country were his priority, not the loud activist class.
“The people who rely on me to take the fight up and never lie down on this, they’re the people that don’t have time to wear advocacy T-shirts and turn up to forums and rallies and meetings,” he said.
“They’re too busy running businesses, getting the kids to school, running the local surf club, they are busy living their lives — that’s who I turn up to work for every day.”
The government also needs to do a far better job of explaining its economic achievements.
We need to know what the government stands for, its vision and how it will improve the lives of ordinary Australians, many of whom are struggling with the cost of living.
Mr Morrison, who clearly loves a TV interview and is adept at public relations, needs to be more about substance than spin. We are now weary of politicians and their carefully crafted lines. We want authentic, competent government.
As it stands, only a monumental, united effort from the Coalition will see it prevail in the election next year.
If the federal Liberals are decimated in the style of the Victorian Liberals, then expect a twoterm Shorten government.
We deserve a real choice at the polls and that means a Liberal Party fully focused on Australia’s future.