It’s not the Liberal Party that’s responsible for a rise of independents with a strong chance of winning in metropolitan seats across Sydney and Melbourne, rather it’s the voters themselves who happen to be more affluent and can “take a risk” on “taking the economy for granted”.
At least that’s the verdict of the man leading the National Liberal Party, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, shared on Monday night.
The Liberal Party members in such seats have been doing “an extraordinary job,” the Morrison said, referring to members like Jason Falinski in Mackellar on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney, Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong, and Dave Sharma in Wentworth, who are all up against strong Teal independents (who all happen to be female).
Morrison believes the real issue is that many of these areas are “less vulnerable to the impacts of the economy” than other seats that he has been visiting in recent days, meaning those living within them can vote on other priorities. While he specifically did not mention climate change as a priority of interest to these more affluent areas, he shared the comment that “climate change can’t be addressed without a strong economy”.
However, when it comes to climate change Morrison conceded he’s still relying on so far unproven and uninvented technologies to deal with the problem — saying the world will change, and he doesn’t believe coal-fired power stations need to close by 2030 in order to reach net zero by 2050.
The prime minister’s comments came during his final interview with Leigh Sales on Monday night for 730.
It was an interview tipped to be one of the biggest of the election, and one that comes after Morrison has mostly rejected the ABC during the course of the campaign.
The interview started with the PM promising to be “more inclusive” if he wins at the polls this Saturday and ended with him declaring he’s “not contemplating” whether he’d step down as leader if the Coalition loses the election, because he’s “not contemplating” losing.
“I don’t speculate on things like that,” he said
Morrison defended the Coalition’s spending record. He defended his ministers over the “sports rorts” affair. He defended his latest announced policies, including Sunday’s efforts where he announced a policy enabling first home buyers to access their superannuation to pay for a housing deposit.
He was asked about his personal self-assessment in which he conceded he can be a bit of a “bulldozer”.
“People want to see me being more inclusive with how I move forward,” he said. “During the course of a pandemic you’ve got to move fast and be decisive, and sometimes you can’t take everyone with you.”
He was asked why he was late to respond to the biggest crises of the past three years, including the bushfire crisis and the more recent flooding in Lismore. Morrison defended his record, again, saying the government moved as quickly as it could during the flooding crisis, a crisis that was “without precedent” in Australia. He said they had “early challenges” with the early stage of the vaccine crisis. And that when things don’t go according to plan, you create a new plan — which is says is exactly what he did.
Asked if he accepted that to get to net zero by 2050, Australia would need to close coal stations by 2030, the Prime Minister said “no.”
“There will be a change that takes place in Australia and the world that will happen over time, and that’s why we believe in investing in carbon capture and storage technologies,” he said.
He added that he has no specific idea in mind for when coal stations will close in Australia because such decisions are for those who are “actually running those power stations, based on their viability.”
Morrison was not asked about the cost to the economy of a failure to sufficiently act on climate change.
Nor where Australia’s economy will be, if the country continues to be an outlier on climate action.
He was not asked about what kind of price we can expect to pay when it comes to relying on carbon capture technologies for later dealing with the emissions we could have cut. Or the risk if the innovation we’re waited on, never actually comes.
Is he contemplating any of it? For a man who readily admits he doesn’t think about his legacy, it’s unlikely.
Leigh Sales will interview Opposition leader Anthony Albanese at the end of the week, before officially leaving the show.