By Simone McCarthy
Australia will hold its general election on May 21, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday, kicking off a six-week campaign period, where voter concern over issues such as the cost of living and climate change is expected to be in the foreground.
Morrison made the announcement from the capital, Canberra, after depositing his official recommendation for the election date with Governor General David Hurley, whose permission is needed to dissolve Parliament and order a federal election.
The stakes are high for Morrison’s centre-right Liberal National Coalition government as it takes on the opposition Labour. The government has faced backlash over its handling of Australia’s vaccine rollout, and more recently over what critics say was a slow response to the deadly floods that devastated parts of Queensland and New South Wales. .
In a speech, Morrison acknowledged Australia had been through “incredibly difficult times” and highlighted what he said were his government’s successes in economic and health measures in the face of Covid-19. He said his government would continue to focus on building a stronger economy and “the biggest rebuilding of our defense and security forces since World War II.”
“[This election is] a choice between a strong and proven government team that has demonstrated our ability to make tough and difficult choices in difficult times, and a Labor opposition that has been so focused on politics in recent years that it still cannot help you say what they do, who they are, or what they believe in and what they stand for,” Morrison said.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will seek to bring Australia’s Labor Party back into federal government for the first time since 2013. Labor has rallied its platform around promises to tackle rising living costs and promote job growth, affordable child care and local manufacturing.
Albanese posted a video on Twitter on Saturday urging Morrison to call the election, while saying that ‘Australians are used to Morrison keeping them waiting’ and referring to what he described as slow action in the deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine, response to the fires bush and flood relief support from the Morrison government.
The May 21 election will involve the House of Representatives and half of the Senate. The three-year term of the House of Representatives is coming to an end since their election in May 2019.
After advising Hurley, the Governor-General and Queen Elizabeth’s Representative to Australia, on the date of the election on Sunday morning, Morrison became the first Australian Prime Minister to serve a full three-year term since John Howard was removed from office. functions in 2007.
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CNN’s Jake Kwon contributed to this report.