Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his leadership style will become more empathetic as he again addressed concerns about his character, and revealed how his wife Jenny refers to his way of working.
On Friday, Mr Morrison said he had a tendency to be a ‘bulldozer’ but excused himself, arguing Australia needed the ‘strength and resilience’ of the approach to get through the turbulent years of the pandemic but said now the style had to change.
Speaking on Saturday from the Victorian seat of Deakin, held by the Liberals on a 4.8 per cent margin, the Prime Minister revealed his wife Jenny had a particular term for his work methods.
Scott Morrison (left) has revealed the term his wife Jenny (pictured right) uses to describe his working method
Mr Morrison attempts a drop punt during his appearance on Saturday morning in Victoria to announce a school sport initiative
Mr Morrison stirs daal at a Gurdwara Siri Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple on Day 34 of the 2022 federal election campaign, in Pakenham, Melbourne
‘Jenny refers to it as the ‘Morrison Men’. My father, my brother and I, we go in and fix things and sometimes when we go in and fix things, people can get the impression that perhaps we are not as aware of many of the sensitivities that can be around these issues.’
It’s a shake up of his previous campaign messaging, saying Australians needed him as much as they might dislike him.
At one point the prime minister compared his job to a dentist’s, saying the election is ‘not a popularity test’.
‘You go to the dentist, it doesn’t matter if you like him or not. You want to know they’re good at their job,’ he has previously said.
Addressing voter concerns that he has lost touch with the Australian public, Mr Morrison claimed he had been locked up in Canberra but said he is now hearing voters.
‘I have been listening to people. I have been listening carefully to people and over the course of this campaign it has been the opportunity to do that – frankly over the course of the last two years we have been all locked up in Canberra.’
Mr Morrison announced voters would see a changed approach if they re-elected him as Prime Minister on Friday (Pictured: Mr Morrison at an Extel Technologies manufacturing facility on Friday)
Mr Morrison trails in opinion polls, but maintains his handling of the pandemic combined with post-Covid recovery for Australia should see voters backing him for yet another term.
‘When you go through a challenging crisis like that, there is no rule book. Australians understand that.
‘Australians understand the pressures that they are under and I am sure they are quite conscious of the very, very fluid and very uncertain environment in which governments have had to make decisions but now we are going into this time of opportunity.’
On Friday, Mr Albanese appealed for voters to capitalise on that same period of opportunity by voting in a Labor government.
‘This government has been there for almost a decade, this prime minister had four years in office, and what he’s saying is, ‘if you vote for Scott Morrison, I’ll change’ … well, if you want change, change the government,’ Mr Albanese said at his press conference in Cairns, before likening himself to a builder.
Mr Morrison made a late call, day 33 of the campaign, to tell voters he would change as polls showed him far behind Anthony Albanese (Pictured: Mr Morrison with Gladys Liu at an Extel Technologies manufacturing facility on Friday)
In the string of political-construction metaphors Barnaby Joyce told journalists he was a balloon when asked what he was most like.
‘I’m like a beautiful balloon that floats lovingly across,’ he said in Gladstone.
At his Deakin press conference on Saturday morning, the prime minister said voters should expect a new man if he is re-elected.
‘I will seek … to explain my motives and my concerns, and empathise a lot more,’ he said.
‘I’m looking forward to a shift in gears of our government to secure those opportunities that are ahead of us.’
In Melbourne, he announced the expansion of a program designed to get more high school students into sport.
The Sporting Schools program expansion would see up to 700,000 more students play sport in school, with more than $20million being spent on the initiative.
The program, currently available for year 7 and 8 students, will be expanded into years 9 and 10.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is pledging $750 million to boost Medicare across the country to deliver better healthcare and access for patients.
The Strengthening Medicare Fund would provide $250 million a year over three years from 2023/24, and would seek to deliver more affordability for patients and provide better management for complex and chronic conditions.
Labor would also set up a strengthening Medicare taskforce that would be chaired by the health minister and bring together policy leaders in health, such as the Australian Medical Association.
A grants program of $220 million will also be spent on local GP clinics to upgrade systems, purchase equipment and upskill staff, with grants of $25,000 or $50,000 available for practices, depending on their size.
Mr Albanese, who is campaigning on Saturday morning in Darwin, said the funds would make it easier for people to see a GP.
‘General practice is the cornerstone of the Australian health system,’ he said.
‘Australians trust their GPs. It’s a vital relationship in ensuring all Australians get the quality healthcare they deserve.’
One week out from polling day, Scott Morrison faces an uphill battle to retain office, with polls indicating Labor is on track to win government on May 21.