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Australian prime minister calls May election

April 10, 2022

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has set May 21 as the date for Australia's general elections. The vote will be a battle to stay in power for Morrison after three years rocked by floods, bushfires and the pandemic.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison gestures during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.
Morrison hopes to become the first incumbent prime minister to win two elections in a row since 2004Image: Lukas Coch/AP Photo/picture alliance

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for federal elections on May 21 that will see issues like Chinese economic coercion, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, taking center stage.

Morrison visited Governor-General, David Hurley — the representative of Australia's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II — at his residence in Canberra on Sunday and advised on setting the election date.

"He accepted my advice," the prime minister told reporters at a press briefing.

Australians are set to vote for the House of Representatives and half the Senate, as Morrison hopes to become the first incumbent prime minister to win two elections consecutively since John Howard in 2004.

With coalition trailing in opinion polls, Morrison sets stage for elections

Opinion polls show that the opposition Labor Party has been ahead of Morrison's center-right coalition since June 2021.

In an opinion piece ahead of the elections, Morrison said that despite the many challenges Australians have faced since the last election three years ago — including bushfires, floods, and the COVID-19 pandemic — the country has fared much better than others.

"But I know our country continues to face very real challenges and many families are doing it tough," he said.

He called on voters to stick with the government that delivered one of the lowest number of pandemic deaths in any advanced economy rather than risk the opposition Labor Party.

"This election is a choice between a government that you know and that has been delivering and a Labor opposition that you don't,'' Morrison said.

He said that the Labor party would weaken the nation's economy with higher taxes and deficits.

"Now is not the time to risk it," Morrison said.

Australia: Farmers hit by China trade tariffs

Labor Party makes its pitch

The Labor party has said that it would offer a better economic alternative for the Australians.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese stressed  that food, fuel, child care and health care costs had spiked while wages had stayed flat since the conservative coalition came to power in 2013, adding that a Labor government would soften pressure on family budgets.

"So when you cringe next time you pay your supermarket bill, remember it was the Morrison government that went out of its way to keep a lid on your pay packet," Albanese said as he made his pitch in an opinion piece on Saturday.

 Albanese was a minister throughout Labor's most recent six years in power.

He became the deputy prime minister in his government's final three months that ended with the 2013 election.

Morrison first became Prime Minister in 2018 after a back-room revolt against his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull.

Months later, his conservative coalition returned to power in a surprise mandate that defied public opinion surveys and exit polls, which had predicted a win for the Labor party.

dvv/kb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)