SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed on Saturday to be more empathetic if re-elected, as his government continues to trail the opposition Labor Party a week before the general election.
Australians head to the polling booths on May 21, with recent polls showing Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition set to lose to centre-left work, ending nine years of Conservative government.
Morrison, whose standing with voters has plunged since mid-2020, admitted Friday to being a “bulldozer” but said he would change after the election.
He continued that theme on Saturday, telling reporters on the campaign trail in Melbourne that what mattered most as Prime Minister was to ‘get the job done’, but promising to ‘explain my motivations and my concerns and do empathize a lot more” in the future. .
Among Morrison’s criticisms during his tenure have been his handling of bushfires that killed 24 people and left thousands homeless, and his response to shortages of COVID-19 vaccines and then rapid antigen tests.
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When asked why he waited until the last week of the campaign to tell voters he would change, Morrison replied: “I listened carefully to people.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese campaigned in Darwin on Saturday where he announced that, if elected, he would spend 750 million Australian dollars ($520 million) to bolster Australia’s universal healthcare system.
Labor is promising a ‘health insurance fund boost’ to bolster the scheme and tackle what it claimed was a crisis in GP care across the country.
“Universal health care is something that is a Labor creation, Labor will always defend it and Labor will always strengthen it,” Albanese told reporters.
The party sees its protection of Australia’s beloved health insurance system as a key differentiator between itself and the government, which has campaigned forcefully on claims of superior economic management and national security.
($1 = 1.4411 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Samuel McKeith in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)
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