Mon, May 13, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Australia’s Morrison bares self in campaign launch

FAMILY HISTORY:The Australian public is still unfamiliar with the prime minister, who tried to appeal to them by speaking about his humble upbringing in Sydney

AP, CANBERRA

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday officially launched his conservative coalition’s campaign in an extraordinarily personal presentation less than a week before general elections.

Morrison is his government’s third prime minister in the administration’s six years in office and still remains relatively unknown to many Australians, who he is asking for a third three-year term when they vote on Saturday.

The coalition’s launch in Melbourne at a convention center included recorded interviews with Morrison family members that covered the prime minister’s wife Jenny’s diagnosis with endometriosis, their 14-year failed battle to conceive through in vitro fertilization before having their two daughters naturally, and Jenny’s brother’s struggle with multiple sclerosis.

Morrison, a policeman’s son, also spoke of his modest upbringing in Sydney and sharing a bedroom until he was in high school with an older brother who was studying at university.

“Life’s about what you contribute, not what you accumulate. That’s what mum and dad have taught me,” Morrison told a gathering of government ministers and supporters of his Liberal Party.

Morrison was joined on the stage by his mother, Marion Morrison, his wife and daughters Abbey, 11, and Lily, nine.

He said his father, John Morrison, was “too frail” to attend.

Morrison gave his mother and wife bouquets of flowers to acknowledge Mother’s Day.

Morrison also outlined government policies including support for first-home buyers to help them enter the housing market.

The government argues that the center-left opposition Labor Party’s policy of reducing tax breaks for landlords would steepen a downturn in house prices in major cities.

Morrison described the election as a choice between him and opposition leader Bill Shorten as prime minister.

“The choice between a government that knows how to manage money, has returned the budget to surplus and will now pay down debt,” Morrison said. “Or Bill Shorten and Labor, whose reckless spending and higher taxes will put all of that risk at the worst possible time.”

The government last month outlined an economic plan that would balance the books in the next fiscal year for the first time in 12 years. Labor has promised to deliver bigger budget surpluses by reducing tax breaks for landlords and some shareholders.

The bitter divisions within the Liberal Party that thrust Morrison into power in August last year were still evident at the launch.

None of the three surviving former Liberal prime ministers attended. Former Australian prime minister John Howard is the country’s second-longest serving prime minister who spent 11 years in office until his government was defeated at elections in 2007. Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott spent three years in office before he was dumped by party colleagues in 2015 in the face of dismal opinion polling. He was replaced by former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was similarly dumped by colleagues last year.

By contrast, three of the four surviving Labor prime ministers attended Shorten’s Labor campaign launch a week earlier.

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