With some Labor premiers extending pandemic restrictions out of concern about the Omicron strain of the coronavirus, the Coalition is trying to tap into voter frustration by promising to ease rules and get the government out of their lives.
Mr Morrison told the Sydney Institute that his opponents on the left would draw “precisely the wrong lesson from the pandemic” by pursuing a more expansive government role and a reach into society in economic, social and cultural policies.
“This would be a profound misjudgement, in light of both our liberal democratic inheritance and what now lies in front of us as we secure our recovery,” he said.
“The reach of government in this pandemic is not some new norm; it has a use-by date.
“By instinct more than ideology, Australians support effective, practical yet limited government: an enabling partner, not a meddling, busy-body overseer.
“Where government delivers the essential services that Australians rely on, while also keeping their tax burden down as much as possible.
“Where the state facilitates, rather than dictates. Knows its role, but also knows its place.”
Mr Morrison acknowledged the government did not get everything right in the pandemic but did not admit to specific mistakes, saying the government had spent $33 billion more on health and saved 40,000 lives – a claim based on applying death rates seen overseas to the Australian population.
“In a crisis what matters is not that you have setbacks, but that you overcome them,” he said.
“And we did, clawing back the ground lost by early non-delivery of vaccines from overseas, and restrictions placed on the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
Mr Albanese blamed the government for being too slow to deliver vaccines and hurting the economy as a result.
“The supply of vaccines was the big problem that we had. Scott Morrison said that it wasn’t a race. We know, as a result, it is why those lockdowns have continued to occur and why the borders were closed,” the Labor leader said on Monday.
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