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ScoMo in SloMo slide toward fatal collision at next election

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 28 January 2022

The next federal election will be held no later than May 21, 2022. It looks like a re-run of 2007 with an overlay of 2019.

In 2007 John Howard enjoyed boom economic times, had been in power for 11 years, and was up against a fresh-faced opposition leader in Kevin Rudd who played a small target game and promised to be as fiscally conservative as Howard. Howard wasn't promising much, and his opponent was promising even less.

Yet there was enthusiasm for Rudd, and the polls were stuck on a substantial winning Labor majority for at least 12 months before the election.


In 2022 Scott Morrison is enjoying boom times, a surprise after Covid. The Liberal National Party Coalition has been in power for just over eight years, but with considerable instability. He is up against an old stager in Anthony Albanese who is promising very little that the government isn't. Newspoll has been showing a winning Labor margin since June 2021. By May, I expect that to be almost 12 months of polls showing the same.

Labor should win for a large number of reasons.

If Howard – who was a formidable politician – can lose on a strong economy, so can Morrison, despite popular wisdom about it being 'the economy stupid'.

In 2007 there was a sense that after 11 years Labor deserved a go. The same dynamic applies to a government of eight years duration, which is a long time in Australian politics (only the Menzies/Holt/Gorton/McMahon, Hawke/Keating, Howard and Fraser governments lasted longer).

There was that same feeling in 2019, but Morrison had a 'miracle' win because everyone expected Bill Shorten to win but didn't trust him… Shorten promised a big policy program and then climate change policies flipped the seat of Warringah one way, but probably five others the other.

Bill Shorten isn't running this year, and Anthony Albanese is using the small target strategy of Kevin Rudd. Labor's up already.


And Morrison has neutered his advantage on climate change by adopting Net Zero.

He also puts some of his wins in doubt by failing to stand up for conservative values. He says he supports freedom of choice and opposes vaccine mandates, but despite having opportunities to legislate for one and against the other, he goes to ground.

He says he supports balanced budgets but runs the largest deficits outside wartime ever.

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This article was first published in The Spectator.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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