Australians mightiness person been sitting down for meal astir 7pm connected Monday, oregon tuning successful to the news, but for those surviving successful marginal seats determination was a accidental they were interrupted – by erstwhile premier curate John Howard.
“Hello it’s John Howard calling from Sydney for the Liberal party,” were the words voters successful seats specified arsenic North Sydney, Wentworth and Hughes heard erstwhile they answered their landlines and mobile phones.
Since losing the 2007 election, Howard has maintained a reasonably debased profile, particularly compared to immoderate of his successors.
However, this predetermination campaign, the Liberal enactment is wheeling retired its erstwhile person to spearhead a last-ditch propulsion successful cardinal marginal seats it fears losing. There person been robocalls and letterbox drops.
On Tuesday, Howard told the Guardian helium was responding to a plea from the Liberal enactment to “campaign extensively”. He does not program to dilatory down his appearances betwixt present and predetermination time connected Saturday.
“The Liberal enactment has asked maine to run extensively which I volition proceed to do,” Howard said.
His campaigning connection differs depending connected the mean – calls, letters and in-person appearances – and the electorate.
But his visibility successful Liberal-held seats threatened by teal independents is successful stark opposition to the premier minister, Scott Morrison, who appears to beryllium avoiding the inner-city seats. Liberal enactment sources admit enactment probe shows Morrison is unpopular successful these areas.
On the different broadside of the campaign, Labor has deployed Kevin Rudd to immoderate seats, including successful Melbourne, and helium spoke astatine a enactment lawsuit successful Brisbane connected Sunday.
Julia Gillard has been ever quieter this campaign, intervening lone to endorse Australian Capital Territory legislator Katy Gallagher amid interest the progressive ballot successful Canberra could beryllium split.
The Liberal enactment is hoping Howard volition trigger a affirmative effect from radical who formerly backed the Coalition.
Inviting Howard to susceptible seats has worked good for the Liberal enactment successful the past – astir precocious helium joined the campaigns that saw the enactment win the New South Wales and federal elections successful 2019.
However this election, the 82-year-old has been traipsing crossed the country, from Perth to run launches successful Sydney.
On Tuesday, having antecedently visited Chisholm and Higgins successful Melbourne, Howard appeared alongside the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, campaigning successful Kooyong, the traditionally blue-ribbon spot that a slew of polls foretell could autumn to teal autarkic Monique Ryan.
His connection successful Kooyong is much tailored. “You whitethorn deliberation that everything Josh oregon the authorities has done is perfect, but however could it be?” his missive to voters states. “In these precise uncertain times, helium and the Liberal squad are the champion prime to guarantee a beardown aboriginal for our fantastic nation.”
In his NSW robocalls, Howard tells voters there’s “a batch astatine stake” this predetermination and the Coalition authorities saw Australia “emerge stronger than astir countries” from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Just arsenic we’re turning a corner, present is not the clip to hazard change. Mr Albanese simply has not presented a credible alternative. And to ballot for an autarkic could hazard a hung parliament which would mean gridlock and beryllium disastrous for our country,” Howard said.
In his mail-outs, Howard rallied further against the teal independents, suggesting the candidates were “not being upfront astir their existent intention, which is to bring down the Liberal government”.
In an interrogation connected Sky News connected Tuesday, Howard sought to play down Morrison’s popularity, and explained helium was “working hard for the Liberal enactment some to repay the tremendous enactment it gave maine for galore years”.
“But besides due to the fact that I judge successful it and I judge successful the premier curate and I judge successful his deputy, Josh Frydenberg, who’s been a large treasurer for our state and I privation to spot him proceed for years and years into the aboriginal arsenic the subordinate for Kooyong.”