Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

The former Liberal prime minister, who served for 11 years between 1996 and 2007, said he did not detect the same public interest in Anthony Albanese as he detected with Kevin Rudd when Labor swept to power in 2007.

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“People were thinking about a change in 2007 and for a combination of reasons they went for him [Rudd], ”Howard said. “I find a marked lack of interest in Mr Albanese. There’s a growing feeling in the community that he’s not quite up to the job. ”

Howard and Deves strolled through Manly Corso on Wednesday afternoon, but it being Manly, many voters they met turned out to be tourists from interstate. One local, 46-year-old builder Mick Rosic, said he was not into politics but he would vote for Deves because she was on Howard’s side.

“Johnny’s a legend, mate,” he said. “He’s a living legend.”

Zali Steggall supporters followed the media pack through the Manly Corso, ensuring their T-shirts remained in shot.

Zali Steggall supporters followed the media pack through the Manly Corso, ensuring their T-shirts remained in shot.Credit:Jessica Hromas

Earlier, Deves and her advisers had waited for Howard at a nearby cafe. While the cameras camped outside, a dozen Steggall supporters swarmed the cafe and sat down in the outdoor chairs, dressed in their teal shirts. They then followed Deves, Howard and the media pack through the Corso. One Liberal described it as “an act of intimidation”.

Asked by the Herald why she has put Pauline Hanson’s One Nation third on her how-to-vote card, Deves suggested asking Steggall why she was not disclosing where her preferences were going or who she would support in a hung parliament.

Steggall is not recommending preferences on her how-to-vote cards. She has refused to say which side she would support in a hung parliament, but has indicated she would find it difficult to negotiate with the Coalition if Scott Morrison was the leader.

It was Howard’s second campaign event of the day following a stroll through a Richmond shopping center in the country’s most marginal seat, Macquarie, with Liberal candidate Sarah Richards.

John Howard and Liberal candidate for Macquarie Sarah Richards meet Hannah Rosier, 31, and her children Ivy, 4, and Darcy, 2, in Richmond.

John Howard and Liberal candidate for Macquarie Sarah Richards meet Hannah Rosier, 31, and her children Ivy, 4, and Darcy, 2, in Richmond.Credit:Michael Koziol

Western Sydney was the heartland of the so-called “Howard battler”, and they had not forgotten their hero, with the 82-year-old only making it to the first few shops as he was stopped for selfies and handshakes.

An Indigenous man, Andrew, approached Howard and thanked him for being “the only white fella who ever got up and apologized to my people”. Asked later by the Herald if he meant Kevin Rudd, who delivered the apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008, Andrew and his father Michael conceded it may have been the former Labor leader. But Howard was still a legend, they agreed.

Other voters in Macquarie expressed sympathy for Morrison, saying he had led the country through a particularly difficult period of floods, fires and COVID-19.

“He’s had a tough run, but he’s doing a good job,” said Hannah Rosier, 31, mum to Ivy and Darcy. “I think he’s done pretty well to get us where we are.”

Malcolm Boivin, a 73-year-old retired chef and firefighter, was proud of how Morrison handled the pandemic. “It would not have mattered which party was there, it was going to cost money,” he said.

“I do not think he handled the woman thing very well, and that’s a big thing, women voters. But he said he’s going to change. He probably will. Because of this election being so damn close. ”

Cut through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Sign up to our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.

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