Australia’s federal election campaign got off to a pythonesque start, with Labor opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, being unable to tell questioners the prevailing rate of interest or the unemployment figure. It was a gift for Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and a welcome public distraction from his own recent failure to identify the price of a litre of gasoline, a Rapid Antigen Test — and even a loaf of bread. Each of them will consider that their showing during the first televised ‘debate’ was successful, purely on the grounds that neither took a real tumble. That’s if you don’t count touching upon Albanese’s turnaround over his refugee boat turnaround policy.
Morrison is arguably the most shallow Australian leader in living memory. He nevertheless held his own in the first debate, conveying a statesmanlike air of patience with the yappy opponent biting at his ankles. Australians usually like their male leaders to be physically large, and Morrison has a more commanding presence. Nevertheless most polls show Labor enjoying a little more than 50 percent approval, though that lead is shrinking. Australians are looking towards other parties and independent candidates in greater numbers than ever before. And who can blame them?
Missing from both leaders are bold and visionary ideas that offer some degree of reassurance and direction in a complex and deeply troubled world. Morrison, although a US-style Christian fundamentalist, has nevertheless neglected the wisdom of Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish. Also an economic fundamentalist, he has moved the Liberals towards more decidedly illiberal social policies — closer to National, the coalition’s deeply conservative partner. Labor, by contrast, is more socially liberal but economically less left that the Greens, on whom they would almost inevitably depend in order to form a workable government. Green leader Adam Bandt has shifted his party towards a position more critical of capitalism than his predecessors, not to mention today’s Parliamentary Labor Party.
A strong public sector along with authoritarian social policies characterise Katter’s Australian Party, while One Nation’s Pauline Hanson continues to wrap liberal economics and illiberal social policies together as easily as fish and chips.
For most Australian voters, the economy and Medicare are of first importance.
Our chart has been compiled with reference to speeches, manifestos and, where applicable, voting records. Should significant policy changes be announced during the campaign, the chart will be updated accordingly.