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“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
In the weeks before an election is to be called, the biblical words from Corinthians should ring loudly.
The country may appear ready for change, but as Labor looks to its first election win from the Opposition since 2007, the lessons of the startling loss of 2019 should echo.
Do not put the cue in the rack.
The job is far from done.
Anthony Albanese is confident he has the momentum, telling Australians he wanted to “kick with the wind in the fourth quarter”.
But the election campaign is a whole new game. And only begins when the Prime Minister visits the governor-general.
It is the political Grand Final.
At the last election, there was one startling difference in the Liberal and Labor campaigns.
Pace and energy.
Scott Morrison was frenetic.
He would visit multiple states in multiple days.
For the man seemingly happy to wear the tag of the Mayor of Australia, television pictures or pictures of any kind appeared to be the priority.
So, Scott Morrison flew around the country to kick footballs, play tennis, go on show rides, and pet animals. He would do anything in the daily bidding to be first in the television news pictures.
By contrast, in the latter weeks of the campaign Labor was slower and more predictable.
In the penultimate week, there were days spent doing similar announcements, and one event a day.
Labor’s campaign team on the ground seemed comfortable, almost too comfortable.
Two days before the election former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke died. Sadness rippled through the camp, but within hours some within ALP ranks proclaimed “Hawkie’s just won us the election”.
And the then Labor leader Bill Shorten paid homage to a man seen as a party legend.
Late afternoon on May 17, 2019, as Shorten posed with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and former Labor Premier Steve Bracks inside the Melbourne pub Bob Hawke would regularly visit, ALP insiders were supremely confident of an election win.
“We’ll get 80 seats,” one Labor figure said to me that afternoon.
As history shows, they didn’t even run close and lost what was dubbed the unlosable election. There’s since been a review, and a change of leader.
Anthony Albanese can now see the finish line in his lifelong race to be sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia.
Recent polls indicate his party is well ahead in key Liberal-held seats in Western Australia and New South Wales.
The Prime Minister has faced persistent questions over whether he can be trusted, an attack line used regularly by the Labor leader, even as Anthony Albanese faces claims of hypocrisy over how he’s handling accusations that Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching was bullied.
The recent South Australian election showed the value of incumbency during the pandemic has evaporated and the Coalition appears on its way to suffering its first election loss since 2010.
Again, Labor finds itself in pole position.
There’s no doubting the mood in ALP ranks has been buoyant.
But as Corinthians warns, “every athlete exercises self-control in all things.”
So the leader who has proclaimed himself to be “match fit” needs to be wary of the risk of complacency and run the race to finish.
Some, perhaps many voters may have made up their mind already, but for a leader with his eyes on the big prize, re-reading Corinthians might help.
“I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Scott Morrison entered politics eight years ago but in that time he has rapidly risen from a humble opposition backbencher to become arguably the government’s most effective minister.
After a short stint on the backbench Mr Morrison was promoted to the shadow ministry where he was responsible for housing before taking on the notoriously difficult task of immigration.
In that position he destroyed his government counterparts before mastering the role with his "stop the boats policy" in the first term of the Abbot government.
Mr Morrison is now being touted as leadership material, taking centre stage in the lead up to this year’s budget as he spruiks childcare reforms in his new role as social services minister.
Click through to see how Mr Morrison rose through the ranks of the Liberal party to reach the peerless position he enjoys today.
The meteoric rise of Scott Morrison
Practice is over. The real race is about to begin.