Prime Minister Scott Morrison with year 1 students from Galilee Catholic Primary School. Picture: Picture: Jonathan Ng
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with year 1 students from Galilee Catholic Primary School. Picture: Picture: Jonathan Ng

PM: How I will take Labor heartland

Scott Morrison has set out his pitch to win the election, saying most of the country isn't focused on gender identity issues or climate change as he pledges to fight for middle Australia.

On an election footing and behind in the polls, the Prime Minister said he believed his party's message would "resonate" in Western Sydney, which he said Labor had "taken for granted" while the government fought to deliver the aerotropolis at Badgerys Creek.

 

Scott Morrison hears from prawn fisherman Ted Woodham during a visit to the Morton Bay Boat Club in Brisbane. Picture: Dan Peled
Scott Morrison hears from prawn fisherman Ted Woodham during a visit to the Morton Bay Boat Club in Brisbane. Picture: Dan Peled

The Liberal leader is intent on carving an election platform that promises to make the nation prosperous and safe so Australians can "achieve their own vision".

Asked if he could win back areas of Sydney lost to Labor at the last election, Mr Morrison said: "I believe across Western Sydney our message of keeping the economy strong and keeping Australians safe will resonate.

"Labor will take it for granted. They've put the cue in the rack and they think they're already there. And they're behaving like that."

The Prime Minister said he wanted to fight for "the people who work the hardest" and "don't often have time to raise their voice".

 

Scott Morrison meets workers and business owners from the fishing industry. Picture: Dan Peled
Scott Morrison meets workers and business owners from the fishing industry. Picture: Dan Peled

He said these people were "discouraged" by the frequently "caustic" and "disrespectful" level of debate in Australia.

"It goes through a lot of the identity issues and identity politics you see in Australia. I don't think, frankly, most Australians are terribly focused on that. Even the great issues around climate," Mr Morrison said.

"I'm just standing here in the middle and that's where I intend to stand."

 

Jack Bird of the Sharks with Scott Morrison after the 2016 Grand Final win.
Jack Bird of the Sharks with Scott Morrison after the 2016 Grand Final win.

He identified national prosperity and safety as the key issues for which he is fighting to ensure everyday people can enjoy living their lives.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks for Mr Morrison and the Liberal Party, with his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull making his dissenting voice loudly heard and Labor retaining its lead in the polls.

 

Scott Morrison pictured with his wife Jenny and their daughters Abbey and Lily. Picture Jonathan Ng
Scott Morrison pictured with his wife Jenny and their daughters Abbey and Lily. Picture Jonathan Ng

Asked if he believed Mr Turnbull had the capacity to help the party in the election, he said it was up to each former PM to find their own way to contribute.

"Every former leader is different and they all find their own way to help," he said.

"Personally I get a lot of encouragement and wisdom and support from Howard and that's fantastic, and John has always been consistent in supporting all former PMs.

"Each former leader finds their own way of doing that. That's not up to me, that's up to them."

Scott Morrison shakes hands during a meeting with US President Donald Trump. Picture: Lukas Coch
Scott Morrison shakes hands during a meeting with US President Donald Trump. Picture: Lukas Coch

With the public so far failing to respond to Mr Morrison's moves to quell Liberal infighting, he is facing a bruising election loss if he fails to recapture voters.

And asked what he needed to do better, he said Australians had been disappointed by internal party politics - including the frequent change in leadership - and he had taken steps to attempt to address this with his party reforms that make it harder to kick out a sitting leader.

"We've allowed the internal matters of the party to disappoint voters," Mr Morrison said.

"The big change was intended to address one of the areas where the public was looking for more. I agree with them and it's fair to expect more."

In remarks that will be seen as a signal to his party, which has been beset by division and ideological warfare, Mr Morrison said he wanted to "demonstrate to Liberal supporters that we respect all views.

"This isn't about hokey-pokey politics - I'm not going to get engaged in that as leader and put my left foot in, put my right foot in," the PM said. "I'm going to stand firmly in the middle of the party and invite those on the edges to come in.

"I'm going to keep my party firmly along the white line going down the middle of our road."

This is where he is confident the Liberals will "best connect with where Australians are at".

"They're not out on the edges. They are right there. I won't be budging from there. I'm not going to be pulled left or right," Mr Morrison said.

"There will be some who will criticise me for maintaining an emissions.



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