New South Wales Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos spoke to Neos Kosmos to discuss the Coalition’s prospects in the upcoming Federal election and how its policy focus points on the economy and healthcare system resonate with Australia’s Greek-Australian community.
Speaking in Sydney, Senator Sinodinos asserted that “this is the wrong time to change” the government.
“If we singlemindedly focus on our message in the last week, it will help us get over the line,” he said.
“We believe Labor’s policies could destabilise the economy.”
Senator Sinodinos was adamant that the Liberal Party could rely on their track record as economic managers, a reputation he feels could see them re-elected.
“We’ve had strong jobs growth, unemployment’s around 5 per cent, the economy has been growing pretty well,” he said.
“The challenge is of course that if more taxes are introduced and Labor tries to have bigger surpluses,” alluding to the Opposition’s pledge on Friday for a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2022-23, “it may put a further burden on the economy at a time when the economy is facing pressures from international factors.”
When asked whether the Coalition’s policy offering resonated with Greek-Australians, Senator Sinodinos pointed to the government’s Long-Term National Health Plan as key to the demographic.
“We’re putting a strong emphasis in aged care policy, on those who are culturally and linguistically different, he said.
“We’re making sure our aged care policies reflect that dimension, and that’s important in communities like the Greek community that are ageing.”
Senator Sinodinos referenced his own recent battle with cancer in addressing proposed improvements to the health system more generally. “When I returned to Parliament [I stated] how grateful I was for the treatment I received, because I was treated in a major public hospital, St Vincent’s hospital here in Sydney,” he said.
“I got very good treatment, I was well looked after and it reminded me again of how good our health system is. We need to keep making sure it stays a good system.”
Senator Sinodinos also discussed how the Coalition had looked to prioritise certain “medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, so people can get access to them at affordable prices,” as well as the Coalition’s pledged $20 billion medical research future fund, “which is trying to find new cures and treatments for major conditions.”
The New South Wales senator, whose term continues through to the next federal election, did acknowledge that Greek Australians today vote across the political spectrum, so the Coalition’s biggest appeal to them mirrors its appeal to the general electorate.
“There’ll be some seats which have heavy concentrations of voters from a particular ethnic background, and sometimes there’ll be issues that particularly resonate to those voters,” he said, “but what we’re saying in this election is, we’re really offering everyone who wants to vote Liberal the prospect of a stronger economy, reducing tax, promoting small business.”
All these policy announcements will amount to little, however, if Labor takes its commanding lead to the polls and sweeps power from the Liberals next weekend – and the Senator shares concerns for significant losses particularly in Victoria.
“After the state election there was an extrapolation to the federal scene,” he said, “and if that was replicated at a federal level it would have the effect of removing a number of seats. But those factors seem to have softened since then.
“I think the real challenge is in Melbourne. The closer you get to the CBD the more of a challenge it is for us because it’s a three-way thing – Labor, the Greens and us.”
Buoyed by Coalition pre-election intelligence that suggested “up to thirty per cent of voters were ‘soft voters’… inclined to vote one way or another” but hadn’t yet made up their mind, Sinodinos argued that a significant portion of that vote still remained up for grabs.
“I’ve mainly focused on New South Wales, the mood here has been pretty good,” he said.
“The feedback I’m getting is, we’re doing well in a lot of the seats we need to retain, as well as some seats we could potentially win, and the impression I get is in Queensland things have settled down more our way.”
“We’re the underdogs, we’re coming from behind, but the race has time, certainly compared to where we started the campaign.”