Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is optimistic of his chances at the next federal election—which must be held before the end of May—while downplaying ongoing headlines and poor polling results regarding his government.
In an address to the National Press Club on Feb. 1, the prime minister spruiked the government’s record on the economy, and its handling of COVID-19, while admitting mistakes were made along the way.
When questioned on recent disapproval ratings in Newspoll surveys, Morrison responded by saying he had “great trust in the Australian people.”
“I think they're very wise, and I think they're very discerning. I think they take elections very, very seriously. Because they know the consequences,” he told attendees.
“There's a difference between answering a phone and walking into a ballot box and making a decision that has consequences. And I know from my own experience that they know that the security situation we face in the world today is very challenging,” he said.
“Whether it's standing up to other countries in our region, standing up to the Big Tech companies, standing up to the banks, and the energy companies. That's my form.”
Morrison’s comments come as Newspoll results over the past few months have reflected poorly on the incumbent prime minister and Liberal-National government.
The Jan. 31 result saw the major opposition party, the Australian Labor Party (ALP), move ahead to 41 percent of the primary vote, compared to 34 percent of the Liberal-National Coalition.
On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition also trailed the ALP with 44 percent of the vote compared to 56 percent, the worst result since Sept. 18, 2019, after Morrison became prime minister.
The methodology proved problematic in the lead-up to Morrison’s surprise 2019 May election victory, where preceding Newspolls and media commentary predicted a loss for the Coalition leader.
However, Big Data analyst, Professor Bela Stantic at Griffith University, bucked the trend that year and correctly predicted a Coalition victory by using artificial intelligence to analyse 2 million Twitter posts in the lead-up to election night.
He also suggested people were more honest on social media or talking to friends, compared to answering questions on a survey.
Meanwhile, Morrison said Australians would weigh up the consequences and “carefully consider” the Coalition and the ALP.
“Australians, in between elections, they tend not to focus too much on politics—because they're focused on what matters most to them, rather than the political goings-on in this place (Canberra),” he said.
“They’re focusing on getting their kids through school, they're focused on running their businesses, staying in their job, paying their bills, and looking after and caring for family members—that's what they're focused on,” he added. “But the time for the election will come, and when it does, they'll weigh these things up and quietly go about their business.”