Scott Morrison thinks he has picked the national mood with a forceful message about the path out of lockdown and toward normal life.
He is so sure, in fact, that he is staking everything on a pledge to voters that he can lead the way even when the country is posting record coronavirus case numbers.
But this is not just a big bet for the Prime Minister on the government’s future and his own political fate, although it could decide his fate at the election.
It is a calculation about lives, also, and it means Morrison cannot win the argument with words alone. He will have to level with voters about the advice from medical experts that makes him so sure he is right.
Morrison’s language on Monday was his simplest and strongest in a long time. “The task is not to delay, the task is not to fear, the task is to embrace, prepare, plan,” he said.
If so, the task is also to plan with eyes wide open. The problem for Morrison is that he has an aversion to full disclosure.
In Parliament on Monday, he relied in part on new information he received over the weekend from the Doherty Institute, the government’s trusted medical modellers. At one point he told question time he was quoting from a confidential document but in the next he said it was an oral briefing.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese smelled a rat and called for the information to be revealed. He was right. Australians need to know if lockdowns can be eased at 70 and 80 per cent vaccination rates without causing a wave of cases that overwhelm hospitals.
Morrison’s office says the latest advice, which was contained in both an oral briefing from the Doherty Institute’s Jodie McVernon and a letter from senior public servant Phil Gaetjens, could be released on Friday. The sooner the better.