© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at Melbourne Commonwealth Parliament Office, in Melbourne, Australia February 11, 2022. Darrian Traynor/Pool via REUTERS
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the country’s governor-general at his residence in the capital Canberra on Sunday, television networks showed, as local media said he was set to call an election for May 21.
Governor-General David Hurley represents Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and his authorisation is necessary to dissolve parliament and order a general election.
Term limits mean the poll must be held before the end of May.
Morrison’s centre-right coalition is trailing the opposition Labor party in opinion polls.
In an opinion piece setting the stage for the election, Morrison said despite the wide range of challenges Australians have faced since the last election three years ago — including fires, floods, and the COVID-19 pandemic — the country has held up much better than others.
“But I know our country continues to face very real challenges and many families are doing it tough,” he said.
He said Labor would weaken the country’s economy with higher taxes and deficits.
“Now is not the time to risk it,” Morrison said.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Saturday urged Morrison to call the election.
“He kept them waiting for the vaccine rollout. He kept them waiting when it came to actions on bushfires. He kept them waiting to provide support for flood victims. Now he’s keeping Australians waiting before he calls the election,” Albanese told reporters in Sydney.