AP

Australian prime minister calls May 21 election

Apr 9, 2022, 5:33 PM | Updated: Apr 10, 2022, 9:22 pm

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister has called for a May 21 election that will be fought on issues including Chinese economic coercion, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday advised Governor-General David Hurley as representative of Australia’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, to set the election date.

Morrison’s conservative coalition is seeking a fourth three-year term. The date is the latest available to him.

He urged voters to stick with a government that delivered one of the lowest pandemic death tolls of any advanced economy rather than risk the opposition Labor Party.

“This election is a choice between a government that you know and that has been delivering and a Labor opposition that you don’t,” Morrison said.

Morrison led his government to a narrow victory at the last election in 2019 despite opinion polls consistently placing the center-left opposition Australian Labor Party ahead.

The Liberal Party-led coalition is again behind in most opinion polls, but many analysts predict a tight result.

The last election occurred in the hottest and driest year Australia had ever experienced. The year ended with devastating wildfires across Australia’s southeast that directly killed 33 people and more than 400 others through smoke.

The fires also destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed 19 million hectares (47 million acres) of farmland and forests during the Southern Hemisphere summer.

Morrison was widely criticized for taking a secret family vacation to Hawaii at the height of the crisis while his hometown Sydney was blanketed in toxic smoke.

He cut his vacation short due to the public backlash, but was further criticized over his explanation for his absence: “I don’t hold a hose.”

His government was criticized for its responses to the fires and also record flooding this year in some of the same areas in Australia’s southeast that were razed two years earlier.

Both the government and opposition have set a target of net zero carbon gas emissions by 2050.

Morrison was widely criticized at the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November for failing to set more ambitious targets for the end of the decade.

The government aims to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels, while other countries have made steeper commitments.

The Australian Labor Party has promised to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030.

Australia was initially successful in containing the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic largely through restrictions on international travel.

But the more contagious delta and omicron variants have proved more difficult to contain.

The opposition criticized the government over the pace of Australia’s vaccine rollout, which was derided as a “stroll out,” as it fell months behind schedule. Australia’s population is now one of the most vaccinated in the world.

The government has defended its pandemic record and takes credit for Australia having the third-lowest death toll among the 38 Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation countries.

With China imposing official and unofficial trade sanctions against Australia in recent years, the government argues that Beijing wants Labor to win the election because the party was less likely to stand up to economic coercion.

Labor takes credit for thwarting the government’s plan in 2014 to sign an extradition treaty with China. Bilateral relations have since deteriorated, and the government now warns that Australians risk arbitrary detention if they visit China.

Several experts say both sides of politics are largely united on national security issues and that the government in confecting differences on China.

“The government is seeking to create the perception of a difference between it and the opposition on a critical national security issue, that is China, seeking to create the perception of a difference when none in practice exists,” said Dennis Richardson, a former head of Defense, Foreign Affairs and the spy agency Australian Security Intelligence Organization and the former Australian ambassador to the United States.

“That is not in the national interest. That only serves the interests of one country and that is China,” Richardson added.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

23 hours ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

3 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

7 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

8 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

10 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Australian prime minister calls May 21 election