Polling stations have opened in Australia’s federal election Saturday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison fighting for another three-year term.
Long queues formed in several stations, as Morrison, who is currently behind in pre-election polls, accused his rival Anthony Albanese of “hubris” in predicting a centre-left Labor win. “You can’t get ahead of yourself,” said Morrison, in a last pre-election pitch to voters.
Albanese has predicted the race will be “close” and promised Australians “some honesty in politics” after Morrison’s high-spin style. People are “over” soundbites, Albanese said, on the eve of the vote, promising to transform Australia’s resistance to tackling climate change. “Give Labor a crack. We have plans for this country,” he said. “We have plans to embrace the opportunities that are there from acting on climate change.”
Morrison has promised to continue “strong” management of the economy and warned his rival cannot “manage money” and so is unfit for office.
Over 17 million Australians are registered to vote in an election that will decide who controls the House of Representatives, the Senate and who lives in the prime minister’s “Lodge.” More than seven million people have voted early, according to the Australian Electoral Commission.
Two final polls put Labor six points ahead of Morrison’s Liberal-led coalition, however neither party assured of an outright victory.
Speaking in Adelaide during a four-state election-eve blitz, Albanese got emotional as he reflected on his personal journey, from the son of a single mum living in Sydney public housing to the threshold of the highest office in the land.
“It says a lot about this country,” he said Friday, voice cracking with emotion. “That someone from those beginnings… can stand before you today, hoping to be elected prime minister of this country tomorrow.”
Speaking in Western Australia, Morrison admitted his compatriots go into election day “fatigued and tired” having endured three years of bushfires, droughts, floods and the coronavirus pandemic. “I understand that frustration,” he said, while pounding out the same message that defied the odds last time: Labor cannot be trusted on the economy.
Morrison has dubbed Albanese a “loose unit” due to his high-profile gaffes, such as forgetting the national jobless rate when quizzed by reporters. “This is the sort of stuff that prime ministers need to know,” Morrison said in an interview Friday as he campaigned in Western Australia. “We have seen that he is not up to the job and it’s bigger than him.”
Morrison touted new data showing Australia’s unemployment rate fell to a 48-year low of 3.9 percent in April as an “extraordinary achievement” that showed his plan was working.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BLOOMBERG