A leader stands, outnumbered by enemies who surround him on all sides. He has few weapons at his disposal, fewer allies, and only a fraction of them believe he can guide them to victory.
No, this isn’t Braveheart, it’s Scott Morrison looking at his election chances five months from now.
The Scott Morrison led Coalition trails Labor by 10 percentage points (this is according to the Financial Review news poll conducted in December 2018). To have a fighting chance in the upcoming election Scott Morrison needs to curry some public favour.
However, since taking over the Prime Ministership in 2018 Scott Morrison has been reticent to take make any major policy moves. Most of his focus has been on damage control, only taking a major stance on migration and floating the possibility of a protection of religious freedoms act.
Compare this to Bill Shorten who by the end of November 2018 had already outlined that Labor’s election policies would focus on health, education, and cost of living.
Of the two potential policy bases, neither are indicative of how Scott Morrison will build his election policies. The previous four Liberal Prime Ministers have all maintained hard-line stances on immigration, favouring limited entry.
On religion meanwhile, Morrison has claimed in the past that his faith is secondary to his politics, going so as to argue that, “The Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one”. The future of the religious freedoms act could therefore come down to public approval.
Beyond that Scott Morrison’s election year policies are still largely an unknown. Though his parliamentary record does reveal some directions he could take the 2019 election campaign.
Scott Morrison’s voting points to him assuming economically liberal and socially conservative policies, consistently voting against increased taxation, spending, and a carbon tax, while opposing policies such as plain packaging on cigarettes.
In his New Year’s Day address Scott Morrison said he was interested in tax cuts and support for drought affected farmers, schools, and hospitals, how these two potential policies can exist however is still unclear.
What his New Year’s Day address does however confirm is that Scott Morrison is interested in taking a two-pronged approach to this election. One focus will be on bringing Australia’s spending back into the black, while the other may be on encroaching into Labor’s social policy territory to try and steal away swing votes.
However, at present Scott Morrison has not yet confirmed his campaign policy. While it will be dictated somewhat by the budget, which is being released in April, one thing is for certain: if Scott Morrison wants a chance in hell of winning the election he needs to figure out what he’s going to stand for.