A string of social media scandals has claimed the scalps of several candidates across the political spectrum, only adding to the sense that parties who cannot vet their people should not be trusted to run a country. It is no wonder independents with high profiles and professional backgrounds are presenting a strong alternative, especially when speaking sensibly about action on climate change and other issues that voters care about but which remain long neglected in Canberra.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison launches the Liberal Party campaign today and has the chance to set the narrative for the last leg of the race. It is also the best chance Mr Morrison has of shedding his image as the accidental prime minister and offering a vision beyond stopping the boats and balancing the books.
Until now, there has been a lack of substance to his pitch to remain in office. In the election campaign, the former advertising executive has come into his own, appearing more sure-footed and on message than in the early days of his as leader. With senior figures such as Julie Bishop leaving and staying out of the spotlight, and Tony Abbott campaigning hard locally in Warringah, Mr Morrison is running his own race. Perhaps he is saving the best for last, knowing this will be when voters are paying the most attention. His single-focus strategy needs some enhancement if he has a chance of pulling off victory.
Labor, by contrast, has overwhelmed us with its vision and plans. The party presents itself as a viable alternative government, with bold policy announcements across a variety of sectors, but they carry some risk for the disadvantage they may cause to some sections of the electorate. It runs the risk of hubris should reality not conform with voter expectations.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been a steady if largely uninspiring figure during more than five years at the helm but became more relatable last week after a baseless tabloid attack about his mother. His heartfelt reaction was a turning point in the campaign, showing another side to a man who errs on the wooden side. Still, after so much instability there are worse ways to present yourself to the electorate than as middle manager-in-chief.
The voters are looking for representatives who will listen to their issues, and debate them heartily against the backdrop of partisan politics. Voters have genuine concerns, from cost of living challenges to our broader role in the world, and while some will be driven to the fringes, many will simply be looking for smart people to go to Canberra with good ideas and the chance of making a difference. Time is running out for the nation’s politicians and wannabes to satisfy this appetite.