Analysis: The Prime Minister this week encountered a nightmare scenario that threatens to undermine the attack line that served the Coalition so well in 2019, according to a journalist who understands how Scott Morrison swept to power better than most.
Annika Smethurst, an award-winning political journalist and author of biography The Accidental Prime Minister, did not mince her words when asked about the political impact of Australia this week recording its largest quarterly and annual increases in inflation since 2000.
“It’s terrible,” she said in this week’s episode of the On The Trail podcast.
“If you were asking the Prime Minister before the election … ‘What’s the one thing you really wouldn’t want’ – and I’ve spoken to other premiers and politicians who’ve been in this position – (the answer is) usually ‘Rising petrol prices’.
“That’s the one they see as really detrimental to the campaign, because most people don’t talk about politics every day but they do drive cars, they do drive past petrol stations and it’s a real reminder of how things are going.
“I think inflation and the fact that you’re paying nearly $6 for an iceberg lettuce is that on crack.”
She said that although arguments could be mounted as to how much the government was to blame for the inflation blow-out amid a pandemic, it will weaken one of the Coalition’s go-to pitches regardless.
“It’s incredibly problematic, and especially given the Coalition’s constant argument that they are better money managers,” Smethurst said.
“That is something that they’ve always hinged their campaign on; they’re constantly telling us ‘It won’t be easy under Albanese’; that’s their new line.
“It used to be ‘Bill’s the bill you can’t afford’.
“So if you’re going to run these campaigns, it’s really problematic when, under your administration … people are feeling the pinch as they head to polls.”