I can spot someone who is in a diabolical political position – I have been there myself back in my early political life as State Secretary of the Queensland Labor Party
When you are the incumbent, danger signs are everywhere. When you hit a decade in power, looking a bit ragged, with more punters able to identify a gripe with the leader rather than a success.
It is for this reason Scott Morrison finds himself is such a difficult position this campaign compared to last time around. It’s also why Morrison is constantly trying to reframe this election as a choice.
One of my favourite campaign pearls of wisdom, I first heard out of the Blairites in the UK, is this: If it’s not a choice about the future, it’s a referendum on the past.
For Morrison this presents a political challenge for him, and he has bravely chosen to go with choice.
Let’s consider why he isn’t running on his record.
At the end of 2019, when devastating and unprecedented bushfires tore through New South Wales and Victoria, the Prime Minister went missing, instead of being there to make sure those people who were devastated got the support and assistance they needed. For the first of many times to come he went missing, off to Hawaii and to make things worse, instead of cancelling his holiday and heading back, he told the people of Australia that he doesn’t hold a hose.
This was only the beginning of his record of failure.
“It’s not a race, it’s not a competition.”
Shortly after the bushfires came COVID, a once in a generation crisis that showed us how as a nation we could work together to fight this virus.
As the pandemic continued Scott Morrison spent his time attacking state premiers over health measures that kept Australians safe. He promised that Australians were at the front of the vaccine queue. They weren’t, he failed to secure enough Rapid Tests to prevent supply chain issues at the start of the year, leaving supermarket shelves empty.
The Australian people did their part, they followed the health directions and they got vaccinated and yet Scott Morrison let them down by not doing his job.
More recently the Queensland and Northern NSW floods gave him an opportunity to show he had learnt his lessons from the pandemic and bush fires and yet Scott Morrison’s number one priority was politics.
He gave people living in Lismore three times the amount of financial support as those living in Queensland, for weeks he refused to agree to Queensland disaster funding before finally backflipping after continued pressure the week before the election was called.
So here we are with the PM attempting to run on “choice” yet he has never been a leader to articulate a vision for the future, he didn’t do it last campaign, he hasn’t done it throughout his term as PM and he offered zero vision or substance about the future in his set piece campaign kick off on Sunday.
Just the same, “I’m not them” that we got last campaign. It won’t be enough to erase those gripes that have built up over almost ten years of conservative rule when the “choice” is more of the same from this Prime Minister.
Queensland ALP Senator Anthony Chisholm and his Liberal counterpart Senator James McGrath will bring an upper-house view to the election campaign every Thursday.
First published in INQLD and can be accessed at https://inqld.com.au/party-lines/2022/04/14/senator-anthony-chisholm-when-incumbency-can-be-a-burden/