Voice of Real Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison on a COVID wing and a prayer

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks in Cloncurry in January. Photo: Derek Barry

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks in Cloncurry in January. Photo: Derek Barry

It seems hard to believe the government might lose the next federal election with Labor in disarray since the 2019 poll it expected to win.

Although polls have tightened in recent months, they always contain an understated bias toward the left and prime minister Scott Morrison remains preferred prime minister ahead of Labor's Anthony Albanese by a considerable margin.

Yet a series of crises, especially around women problems, have rocked this government to the core and leave Mr Morrison looking vulnerable as we head towards an election in the next 12 months or so.

I recollect three days after his so-called "miracle win" in the 2019 election, Mr Morrison made Cloncurry in outback Queensland his first port of call.

Cloncurry is LNP heartland so Mr Morrison was among happy friends, delighted their man with local connections, named by a local poet as "Billy Gilmore's Ringer", had won power against the odds.

But amid the "How good is the Curry" triumphalism, I was more intrigued to see a second cohort there at the Cloncurry Bowlo that night.

The PM greets a local in Cloncurry just three days after his election win in 2019. Photo: Derek Barry

The PM greets a local in Cloncurry just three days after his election win in 2019. Photo: Derek Barry

A bus had brought in a blue-shirted group from a Pentecostal church in Mount Isa and they treated Mr Morrison like a rock star.

They were all young people and they cheered his every word, chanted his name and queued up for selfies with the prime minister.

It was a stunning show of support and one which I had completely missed in the lead-up to the election.

I was reminded of this as I read Niki Savva's book Plots and Prayers about Mr Morrison ascension to power following the demise of Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Morrison had put his faith at the heart of the campaign when he invited the cameras into his church in the Easter before the election.

Labor mistakenly wrote him off as a "bible basher" but the pictures of Mr Morrison in prayer made conservative believers feel safe and welcome in the Liberal fold.

Meanwhile for non-religious voters, the prime minister used his natural affability to good effect in the election campaign, something I'd seen first hand on his previous visit to Cloncurry and Julia Creek after the devastating North West Queensland floods when he showed great skills of empathy and a credible desire to fix the problem.

As Katharine Murphy said in her Quarterly Essay on the PM, Mr Morrison is a troubleshooter, "a repairer of walls, not a writer of manifestos".

With the walls now cracking open, Mr Morrison needs to find a manifesto (or perhaps a "womanifesto") in a hurry to take to the polls if he is to retain power.

He will take comfort in the fact incumbent governments have swept the board since the pandemic.

We had a hint of how he might use that fact in his third visit as PM to Cloncurry in January this year, when Mr Morrison said his dealings with the North West Queensland floods had informed his COVID response.

"Working together as a community over a very large area has played a huge role in ensuring all of Australia has been able to come through COVID-19 better than almost any country in the world," he said at the time.

Mr Morrison will be reminding voters of that in the coming months as well as hoping the vaccine rollout doesn't suffer from too many more snafus.

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