Scott Morrison Says He Is The 'Undisputed Underdog' Of The Election
While Morrison denies that his underdog attitude is based on bad polls or change of Prime Minister, he acknowledges that the Coalition has fallen behind
“We have been behind, that’s true, we are coming from behind,” he told 10 News First.
After his first ten days on the road, and with four more weeks to go, the Prime Minister appears happy and relaxed.
“It’s been a good week, in terms of people being really positive about the future," he said.
In just over a week the Prime Minister has traversed four states, held two rallies for the party faithful and made a slew of health and congestion busting announcements.
He has also seen champion horse Winx race for the final time, hosted a party for the season premiere of Game of Thrones and watched his beloved Sharks come from behind to claim victory in the final five minutes.
But of all the highlights, there is one that sticks out for Morrison.“It’s been nice to have Jenny with me on the campaign," he said.
“She is infectious; everyone she talks to is captivated.”
The Prime Minister credits his wife’s popularity and stabilising influence with her interest in people, not politics.
“She just loves people, and she zones out on what is happening with the campaign and politics.”
He is basing his election pitch around a stronger economy and tax cuts.
“We talk about the economy, but the economy is about people,” Morrison said.
He is offering economic management and tax cuts, but the former Immigration Minister and Treasurer, who is used to standing strong in the face of pressure, insists he will not be raising Newstart.
“A social safety net is always a risk in a weaker economy,” he said.
But there are many who think there is value in raising the unemployment rate, which sits at $277 a week for an individual and just $601 for a single parent.
Welfare advocates, business groups, economists, former Prime Minister John Howard and Senior Liberal Arthur Sinodinos have all supported spending more on Newstart.
And just this week Liberal Candidate for Lyon, Jessica Whelan also added her voice to that list.
There are 4,800 unemployed people living on $40 a day in the electorate of Lyons, which sprawls across much of Tasmania.
At the last election, Labor took the seat from the coalition by 3,161 votes.
But the lure of winning the votes of those depending on Newstart is not enough to make the Prime Minister change his mind about raising welfare payments.
When pressed by 10 News First he doubled down on his refusal, and turned to an old faithful coalition line; “The best form of welfare is a job.”
“We are only just getting the budget back into surplus next [financial] year for the first time, so I think you have to consolidate your position.”
“If you can’t manage money, as Labor can’t, you can’t run a welfare system.”
Labor has promised to review Newstart, but will not commit to a figure.
“What we want to do is review it, we want to see the interaction with the other benefits which people get,” said Bill Shorten.
“But we are not reviewing it to lower it.”
It is not just welfare groups calling for a raise, business groups and economists say the case is compelling.
Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, says “We don’t need a review to know that Newstart needs to be increased.”
“We’ve seen both the major parties commit to complex, expensive tax cuts without any need for a review.”
“The social, economic and moral case is compelling.”
As agencies ramp up pressure on politicians to raise the unemployment rate, Scott Morrison still has faith that the odds of him keeping his job are improving.
Featured Image: 10 News First