With Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s leadership under attack, the upcoming federal election could once again hinge on the infamous “swing voters”.
To help gauge the mood in the community, the ABC’s Four Corners asked everyday Aussies with no particular preference for one party or another what they thought of Mr Morrison.
A focus on image, unwillingness to accept fault and propensity to lie were all working against him in the eyes of those interviewed.
Most, however, were more forgiving of the Prime Minister’s handling of the pandemic and economic management — two factors that could be key influencers come election day.
“Scotty From Marketing” is one of the more pervasive nicknames given to the Prime Minister, and some say for good reason.
“He’s always trying to get the best image he can out there purely for the cameras,” Tarek Amyra from Eastern Melbourne said.
Just last week, supposedly leaked text messages revealed former Liberal Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian criticising Morrison for “petty political pointscoring,” during the 2019 bushfires.
An apparent lack of remorse and unwillingness to accept responsibility have frustrated some voters as funding scandals, a confusing stance on climate change and allegations of crimes against women were all shrugged off by Morrison.
“He just tries to … justify what his actions were. I just own up if I have done something wrong because we are human beings, we can make mistakes. But not from his mouth, I’ve never heard it,” Soumya Ganguly from western Sydney said.
While the Prime Minister’s efforts to be seen as an “everyman” have not gone unnoticed with voters, most believe he genuinely does stand for “traditional Australian values” such as his family, footy team and religious beliefs.
In terms of national and international disasters, Morrison has seen his fair share. However his handling of them has not always won fans.
Morrison’s decision to continue a holiday in Hawaii during the 2019 bushfires and immortal explanation of “I don’t hold a hose” drew widespread criticism.
“As a public servant given that he took a holiday at that time when everyone was struggling, that was a really bad move in terms of image – which in politics is pretty much everything,” Caleb Wu from NSW said.
“At that point in time you definitely see that Scott Morrison didn’t rise up to the level of what is expected from, a Prime Minister,” Mr Ganguly said.
Covid-19 and Morrison’s handling of it has spawned more varied and nuanced reactions.
Some saw him taking more of a leadership position, making tough and decisive decisions such as closing international borders.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for shutting the borders. We’re an island and that’s what saved us in the early stages,” Cath Sattler from south west Victoria said.
Unprecedented economic stimulus measures that kept the country afloat throughout the pandemic were also warmly welcomed by and large.
“I don’t know how it could have been handled any better. I feel that the handling of the economy was actually very good,” Adam Wotherspoon from south west NSW said.
Delayed access to vaccines became a point of criticism by some in the media, but voters appear to be more understanding.
“We got the AstraZeneca deal, to manufacture it in Melbourne. Nobody knew that was going to end up causing issues where that was going to be phased out,” Ms Sattler said.
“I think some of the criticism is a little unfair about not buying enough Pfizer vaccine – jeez, we didn’t have a crystal ball did we.”