• Rikki Lambert

Morrison government losing the election

Well may he smile, Mr Albanese (centre) is on track to be Australia's 31st Prime Minister

'Oppositions don't win elections, governments lose elections' - it's one of the well-worn adages in Australian politics and all the indicators are it's going to play to Anthony Albanese's benefit by May this year.

Throughout 2021 this pundit projected that if the COVID-19 pandemic was still rolling into 2022 to the degree that federal government responses dominated any other policy discussion, Mr Morrison would win in a canter.

After all, in global comparison terms by late January 2022, Australia has weathered the coronavirus storm relatively well - sitting 150th in the number of deaths per million people at 144, better than Singapore or Japan; one sixth the world rate of 718; and well behind some European nations with over 4,000.

The Labor opposition's criticisms of the government's handling of ordering sufficient numbers of coronavirus vaccines for Australia across the pandemic may have hit their mark, if the opinion polls are to be believed.

Or, perhaps, without uttering the phrase, 'It's Time', Mr Albanese might feel he is on the cusp of a Whitlamesque overhaul of right-of-centre government in Australia. Whitlam displaced 23 consecutive years of Coalition rule, featuring a string of Prime Ministers - largely Sir Robert Menzies but after him, Holt, McEwen (for 22 days), Gorton and Billy McMahon. Twenty-first century Labor's time in the political wilderness is comparatively briefer, now in its tenth year.

Even so, there is an air of inevitability about a change of federal government despite the circumstances.

Australia may well be in recession for the first time since Keating's 'recession we had to have' but so are most western economies, and Australia less so than they. This recession has not come with double-digit interest rates and mass unemployment, quite the opposite. More Australians are in jobs than in recent memory and house prices have surged as Aussies do their thing for the country. Whereas former Treasurer Costello encouraged young Australians to have one (child) for mum, one for dad and one for the country, now Australians are upscaling and renovating to keep the economy ticking over.

Yet the Australian voters appear to be lined up with brickbats to run the Morrison-Joyce Coalition out of office, helped in no small part by an electoral redistribution that makes it harder to hang on.

Some friendly fire has also cost the government with a failure to keep the team unified and 'on message', losing Sydney MP Craig Kelly and a gaggle of senators, in part or in full, be it over vaccine mandates or a loss of preselection.

As another old adage goes - and may well go out the window to political correctness someday soon - it's not over until the fat lady sings, but she may well be reciting Mr Morrison's swansong.