Australia will hold a general election on May 21, triggering a campaign expected to be fought over cost-of-living pressures, climate change and questions of trust and competence of the major parties.
Scott Morrison, the prime minister, played up economic uncertainties and security threats in announcing the election, saying this was not the time to hand the reins to an untested opposition Labor leader, Anthony Albanese.
“Only by voting for the Liberals and Nationals at this election on May 21 can you ensure a strong economy for a stronger future,” Morrison told reporters in the capital Canberra.
Morrison earlier visited the country’s governor-general. David Hurley, a former army general, represents Queen Elizabeth II as the Australian monarch and his authorisation was constitutionally necessary to dissolve parliament and order an election.
Term limits meant the poll had to held before the end of May and Morrison’s centre-right coalition is trailing the opposition Labor party in opinion polls after nine years in power.
But he similarly lagged behind before the previous election in May 2019, when he pulled off a win.
Morrison said despite the wide range of challenges Australians have faced since the last election three years ago – including fires, floods, and the Covid-19 pandemic – the country has held up much better than others.
“But I know our country continues to face very real challenges and many families are doing it tough,” he said.
He said Labor would weaken the country’s economy with higher taxes and deficits. “Now is not the time to risk it,” Morrison said.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell