(CU)_After a surprise election win in 2019 that gave him great influence over his centre-right Liberal-National coalition, this Australian politician says he had “always believed in miracles”. However, having been in power for three years, a period dominated by a global health crisis and geopolitical tensions, many are wondering if he has become a liability in voters’ minds.
Australian leader Scott Morrison will soon face an election, as his party faces off against Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s Labour Party in the vote on 21 May. Once again, he is hoping for an against-odds victory that would extend his four-year tenure as prime minister. Born in Sydney, Australia, Morrison grew up in the city’s beachside suburbs. Closely connected to the Pentecostal movement, he is currently one of the country’s leading religious conservatives. He spent a large part of his political career working hard to forge an image as a ‘family man’ who understands Australia’s suburban values.
He was a former state director for the Liberal Party and held senior roles in tourism before entering the political stage in Canberra after running for federal office in 2007. He rose to national prominence during his time as immigration minister in former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government. Despite sharp public criticism, Morrison took a stringent approach to asylum seekers, particularly through his ‘Stop the Boats’ policy. However, his competence and work ethic were lauded later, after later took on portfolios in social security and treasury.
He ran for the top seat in the federal government in 2018 after infighting within the government forced out his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull. Accordingly, PM Morrison becomes the first Australian leader in 15 years to complete a full three-year tenure in office. Economic growth is at the heart of his party’s re-election bid, with economic activity expected to growth a further 4.25 per cent this year. Unemployment rate has also dropped to 4 per cent, for the first time in 14 years.
However, it was not smooth sailing for his administration during this period, with the pandemic posing a range of challenges, from a record number of deaths to border closures and supply chain issues. Geopolitical tensions in the Pacific region have been another critical obstacle faced by the coalition, particularly over the recent weeks following a controversial security pact between neighbouring Solomon Islands and China. The agreement sparked concern among regional allies as it created potential for a Chinese security base in the South Pacific, with the opposition describing it as the greatest Australian foreign policy blunder in the region since World War II.
Recent opinion polls suggest the Australian leader may not be largely favoured among voters. However, given his surprise election win in 2019, many experts say it would be foolish to write him off.