PM Morrison vows to 'empathise' more if re-elected

SYDNEY • Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that he will "empathise" much more if he wins the May 21 election, but was accused by the opposition of making a desperate political manoeuvre.

Mr Morrison, whose conservative government is lagging in the opinion polls a week before the vote, admitted a day earlier that he had been a "bulldozer" to get things done during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I know there are things that are going to have to change with the way I do things because we are moving into a different time," he added.

Yesterday, Mr Morrison told reporters he would seek to "explain my motives and my concerns and empathise a lot more - but I tell you what, at the end of the day, what matters is I get the job done".

He said he had to make unpopular decisions and act quickly during the pandemic, adding: "I am looking forward to changing the gears of our government."

It is a change from the campaign stump message he has delivered to voters until now - "You may not like me", coupled with a summary of his plans and achievements, notably fighting the virus and boosting the economy.

Asked why he had waited until the final week of the campaign to tell voters he would change, Mr Morrison said: "I have been listening carefully to people."

A Newspoll released on Friday showed the opposition Labor Party leading the ruling Liberal-National Party coalition with 54 per cent to 46 per cent on a two-party basis - barely changed from a month ago.

"I don't believe this Prime Minister can change. That's a desperate statement that he made," Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese told reporters.

He campaigned yesterday in Darwin where he announced that, if elected, he would spend A$750 million (S$726 million) to strengthen Australia's universal healthcare scheme.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2022, with the headline PM Morrison vows to 'empathise' more if re-elected. Subscribe