Politics Opinion

Morrison's best shot for votes will be the politically disengaged

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If you're young and unsure who to vote for, Scott Morrison wants to have a word with you (Screenshot via YouTube)

With his track record of economic mismanagement and political ineptitude, Scott Morrison needs to target those too young to know better, writes Sam Leckie.

AS 20-YEAR-OLDS DO when the footy finishes at the pub, the conversation quickly turned to the 2022 Federal Election.

Over a game of pool and several wheat-based beverages, our analysis echoed what appears to be the growing consensus among Australians — “Scomo is a straight talker”, “The other guy is too quiet and I don’t know his name” and “We know what to expect” are just a few examples.  

For the politically inclined, the Coalition’s “you know what to expect” stance is misplaced at best and at worst, another example of this Government's apparent and catastrophic aspirations of self-sabotage.

The Australian public, however, does know what to expect. Blatant public lies – the electric vehicles and Emmanuel Macron sagas to name a couple – followed by the predictable denial of such falsehoods. Fumbling management of climate, public health and economic policy. Failure to legislate the federal corruption commission which was promised prior to the 2019 Election. Cultivating a parliamentary culture that allows the rape of a female staffer and fails to efficiently address such crimes and violations.

The list of indiscretions goes on, but one statistic leaves this Election very much in the balance.

The bulk of the Australian population is significantly politically disengaged and this dynamic is particularly high among 18-29-year-olds — my age group. For all of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s flaws, his marketing background makes him a great campaigner and the lack of interest in political outcomes among Australians falls right into his arc.

The fallout of this is an arduous six-week campaign of public persona, mudslinging and overly stage-managed public appearances, not policy.

The main concern is that this style of election coincides with a critical juncture in Australia’s and the world's history. Growing international tensions, an environmental crisis at a tipping point, the persistent threat of a global pandemic and an economy running short on sustainable stimulation present an uphill battle to sustain our way of life. If there was ever a time for an election to focus on policy, not personality, now is it.

Nobody – regardless of their political engagement – can deny that Morrison’s Coalition has had one of the most turbulent parliamentary terms in Australian history, with natural disasters, a pandemic and many other concerns challenging the Government in unprecedented ways.

What those who don’t follow politics may not realise is that in 2022 – with these crises still at large – the Coalition announced only ten parliamentary sitting days, ending in March with no more available until August. The annual average is 67. Not a lot of time to address these issues with meaningful policy.  

The pandemic aside, the 2013-22 Coalition Government has fostered a national debt of nearly $1 trillion, relative income inequality worse than that of Bangladesh and Sudan, an unheralded aged care crisis and stagnant environmental policy which has seen two once-in-a-generation natural disasters occur within the last two years. This is a government that has proved time and time again that it does not learn from its mistakes, nor address them. Yet Scott Morrison will ask you to vote L-NP because you “know what to expect”.

The early stages of the Election and the first leader’s debate on 20 April boasted more of what we expect from Morrison — political spin, championing causes such as a strong economy without substantial reasoning and an ability to say whatever he desires without consequence.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s (yes, that is his name) Labor Government has already pledged, with meaningful conviction and evaluation, an Indigenous voice to Parliament, a federal corruption watchdog and reforms to a struggling aged care and public health system. While Morrison has shown us that election promises mean little once you’re in the chair, the track records of the two major candidates speak a thousand words.

I still have grave concern that Australia and our politically uninterested population are being led down a Yellow Brick Road and a lack of critical thinking leaves the door wide open for Morrison to grab the reins once again. Who knows where that might lead us?

Sam Leckie is a keen follower of sports, politics and economics. He is currently in his second year of an undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Queensland, majoring in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies.

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