Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has emphasised job creation while touring manufacturing businesses in New South Wales to campaign for the federal election.
The prime minister kicked off his second day by campaigning in the electorate of Parramatta, which is held by the Labor party by a 3.5 percent margin.
He later moved to Macquarie, which is also held by the opposition but by only 0.19 percent, making it the most marginal seat in the country.
Speaking in front of reporters, Morrison promised that the Coalition would add 1.3 million jobs to the labour market in the next five years and said those jobs would be created across a range of industries in the economy.
“We’ve worked hard to get to the point where we can really take advantage of the economic opportunities that this country now has in front of us. It’s the biggest economic opportunity since the post-war era,” he said.
Currently, the Coalition government still stays behind in the polls, as the latest Roy Morgan poll indicates that Labor is 14 percentage points ahead of the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis.
Nevertheless, the prime minister said the likeability of the leaders was not a determinant factor in the election.
“It’s not a popularity contest. You go to the dentist. It doesn’t matter if you like him or her or not. You want to know they’re good at their job,” he said.
“This is about whether people are good at managing the economy and have a strong economic plan.”
Morrison refuted the opinion that both Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Foreign Minister Marise Payne joined him at the press conference on April 12 because of his low personal standing among voters.
“I’ve got a great team. I’m happy to showcase my team every single day,” he said.
Apart from the jobs creation promise, the Coalition government was committed to making a $22 billion (US$16.4 billion) investment in renewables and low emissions energy technology.
It also pledged to set aside $7.1 billion for infrastructure projects in regional areas and another $3.7 billion for creating 800,000 new training positions.
Meanwhile, the federal government has faced harsh criticism for allegedly paying $500,000 to a former staffer of Liberal MP Alan Tudge.
Rachelle Miller, a former media adviser, alleged in December 2021 that she suffered abuse at the hand of her boss during their affair, which Tudge has strenuously denied.
He later stepped down from the cabinet on March 4, although there was no adverse finding against him.
Morrison said that he did not know if the government paid the amount or not.
“I know it’s taxpayers’ money, and those matters are handled by the Department of Finance and at arm’s length from politicians,” he told Adelaide radio 5AA on Tuesday.
“I have no visibility on that at all. I can’t confirm to you if a payment has even been made.”
Morrison then referred to a report which concluded there was insufficient evidence that Tudge breached the ministerial code and said that he would welcome back the former minister in his cabinet.