Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has spruiked his government’s efforts at a Sydney conference ahead of the federal election’s first anniversary as his treasurer warns the party faithful not to under-estimate the “authentic outsider”.
Mr Turnbull used a lengthy speech to the Liberal Party’s 59th Federal Council in Sydney on Saturday to talk about policies on terrorism, migration, energy and education.
“Despite the prediction that’s been made about deadlock in the Senate, we have negotiated the passage of 126 bills through the parliament in just 11 months since the election,” he said.
Next to take the podium was Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, who warned the Liberal Party that it needed to change to keep voters who are looking for “authentic outsiders” such as Donald Trump to change politics.
He said that it was no longer enough to rely on an impressive track record or for the “other mob to always be worse”.
“We will not get a leave pass from the Australian people for failing to constantly connect with them and their concerns, just because we have been a competent government with a good record of achievement,” he said.
But he said Labor and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten would not fill that “authentic outsider” role in Australia.
“Bill Shorten is no political outsider. Nor is he defined by his authenticity,” Mr Morrison said.
“Bill Shorten is not feeling Australians’ pain, he is seeking only to cynically exploit it.”
He said a surprising number of British voters backed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn despite the May government and much of the press providing a “brutal assessment”.
“Yet voters didn’t care and turned out in larger numbers and voted for him,” Mr Morrison said.
“Like Trump across the Atlantic, Corbyn took on the role of the authentic outsider; the one to challenge a system that voters did not think was serving them.”
Labour didn’t win in, but it’s surprise result cut deeply into the Conservatives majority, and forced Prime Minister Theresa May to form a minority government.
Mr Morrison said the Liberal party needed to learn from those results.
“We need to show how we are pragmatically acting to change government, turn over the tables, reset the rules,” he sad.
“We need to demonstrate how we are breaking the mould and siding with Australians on the issues that are seen to be working against them.”
The Turnbull government snuck back into power with a one-seat majority and reliant on the crossbenches in the Senate at last year’s July 2 double-dissolution election.
It has been struggling in the opinion polls since – something Mr Morrison has blamed on the way the public perceives politics, citing the surprise results with Donald Trump in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.
Cheers from the Abbott supporters
Mr Turnbull noted the appearance of Mr Abbott, who he replaced as Prime Minister following a 2015 leadership spill.
Mr Abbott, who was sitting in the crowd, smiled as members of the audience cheered.