Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accidentally bowled over a child during a soccer match while on the campaign trail.
Mr Morrison was visiting the Devonport Strikers Soccer Club on Wednesday, which is in the electorate of Braddon in Tasmania.
Just days ago the PM frankly admitted that he’s a ‘bit of a bulldozer’.
Though he argued this has been an important trait to have in recent years for a political leader, especially with global factors – from China’s rise to the COVID-19 pandemic – impacting so heavily on Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison accidentally knocks over a child during a visit to the Devonport Strikers Soccer Club, which is in the electorate of Braddon, on May 18, 2022
The Prime Minister was touring the Devonport Strikers soccer ground as he pledged $3.5million for a new grandstand along with upgrades to the field and lighting.
After the ‘bulldozer’ remark, Mr Morrison promised he would make an effort to become better at ‘listening to Australians’ and that he has what is needed to continue to lead the nation beyond Saturday’s election.
The prime minister hailed his election victory in 2019 as a miracle, but opinion polls suggest he will need a second miracle to remain in power.
Three years ago he put the narrow victory down to ‘quiet Australians’ endorsing the Liberal-National coalition’s economic and national security record.
But some of those quiet Australians have become cranky Australians.
Interest rates are rising for the first time in almost 12 years, inflation is at a record 5.1 per cent and wages are not keeping up.
While political leaders talk about cutting power bills and making housing more affordable, that is not the real-world experience of the cranky Australians in outer suburban marginal seats.
In the pre-election budget and throughout the election campaign, Mr Morrison has sought to bulldoze those in the ‘cranky’ category back into the ‘quiet’ column with promises of cheaper fuel, cash payments and income tax cuts.
The child appeared to shrug off the clash though Mr Morrison took a little longer to get to his feet (pictured)
But if polls are to be believed, it appears the marketing skills of the former Tourism Australia boss – who was behind the controversial ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign – have not been enough to stop an exodus of coalition support to Labor.
The 54-year-old father of two felt it necessary to define himself one week from polling day as a ‘bulldozer’. His self-described approach would already be known to most voters.
Having had a successful stint as state director of the NSW Liberal Party he was elected in 2007 for the NSW seat of Cook.
After the defeat of the Labor government in 2013, he rose to prominence by spearheading Operation Sovereign Borders as immigration minister to then-prime minister Tony Abbott.
The Prime Minister took to the field in his business shoes and tie for the impromptu kick of the soccer ball (pictured after the stumble)
During a nine-month stint as social services minister, Mr Morrison was forced to sell the Abbott government’s deeply unpopular 2014 budget, which was laced with a cocktail of deep welfare cuts.
However, he was more pragmatic in the role of treasurer, performing back-flips on a range of unpopular government policies including a Medicare levy hike, superannuation changes and big business tax cuts.
Labor has made much out of public perceptions of Mr Morrison’s tendency to say one thing and do another.
Even members of his own team have questioned his integrity, with outgoing NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells describing him during a parliamentary spray as ‘unfit for office’.
The prime minister has spent much of the past term dealing with the COVID-19 fallout.
When the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Melbourne in January 2020 he was already deep in disaster, dealing with criticism over handling of a bushfire season response which became the subject of a royal commission.
Both Mr Morrison and the child were uninjured and high-fived after the accidental clash (pictured)
In September 2020 the economic impact of the pandemic was made clear with Australia going into recession for the first time in almost 30 years. But it has since bounced back thanks to billions of dollars in government support.
Heading into 2021, Mr Morrison’s stocks began to fall and he reshuffled his cabinet with a focus on women’s safety and economic security – seen as a weak point for his government and a counter to media attention on the poor treatment of women in politics.
His foreign policy credentials took a hit when he announced the ditching of a $90 billion contract with France to build submarines, instead teaming up with the United States and United Kingdom for nuclear-powered boats.
And there was a further blow when the Solomon Islands announced a security deal with China, with Labor accusing the prime minister of taking his eye off the region.
Time will tell whether voters have put the brakes on the bulldozer.