Australian PM Morrison vows more empathy ahead of elections

As his government continues to lag the opposition Labor Party a week before a general election, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared on Saturday that if he wins re-election, he will be more compassionate.

On May 21, Australians go to the polls, with recent polls indicating that Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition is on pace to lose to Labor, ending nine years of conservative rule.

Morrison, whose popularity has plummeted since mid-2020, said on Friday that he is a “bulldozer” but promised to reform after the election.

On Saturday, he reiterated this theme, telling reporters on the campaign trail in Melbourne that the most important thing for him as Prime Minister was to “get the job done,” but that he would “explain my motivations and worries and empathise a lot more” in the future.

Morrison has been chastised for his management of bushfires that killed 24 people and displaced hundreds, as well as his response to COVID-19 vaccination shortages and subsequent quick antigen testing during his term in government.

“I have been listening attentively to people,” Morrison said when asked why he waited until the last week of the campaign to assure voters he would change.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese campaigned in Darwin on Saturday, promising to spend A$750 million ($520 million) to expand Australia’s universal healthcare system if elected.

Labor promised a “Strengthening Medicare Fund” to expand the program and solve what it claims is a nationwide crisis in general practitioner care.

“Universal healthcare is something that Labor created, and Labor will always protect and strengthen it,” Albanese said to reporters.

The party sees its defense of Australia’s beloved Medicare system as a significant point of distinction from the government, which has campaigned on promises of improved economic management and national security.

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