Previous PMs Pick Sides as the Election Race Heads into the Homestretch

Here is a brief summary of where six former Australian Prime Ministers stand in the 2022 federal election.


With Election Day looming, both Albanese and Morrison are heading into the final straits of their campaigns. We’ve so far seen the use of gotcha questions, rhyming slogans and political attack ads, but one of the most popular strategies has been relatively understated in the lead up to the current election; the endorsement of former PMs.

The approval of former Prime Ministers can be weaponised to invoke nostalgia within lapsed voters who may pine for former glory days, and can signpost stances and polices that may be on the table for the major parties.

Here is a brief summary of where six former Australian Prime Ministers stand in the 2022 federal election.


Paul Keating

Alongside his political partner Bob Hawke, Keating has become something of an Australian legend in the eyes of Labour Party voters, a title earned due to his policies introducing superannuation and growing the nations in the international arena.

Albanese has personally drawn on the reputation of Keating, saying in 2022 he planned to take “lead from Bob Hawke and his successor Paul Keating”[1].

Keating has stopped short of outwardly advocating for Anthony Albanese in such obvious terms, but as a stalwart party man, it is safe to assume that he will back Labor in the booth. The former PM and treasurer has however made numerous comments about Scott Morrison, dubbing him a “pass-through Prime Minister”[2].

The primary grievance that Keating has with both sides of the isle relates to Australia’s handling of it’s relationship with China. Keating believes the Liberal government of the past nine years has needlessly provoked the CCP into viewing Australia as hostile, subsequently making Australia a “potential target for a nuclear strike”[3]. He further criticised the AUKUS deal, characterising Australia as subservient to the American war machine.

Whether Keating’s push for friendlier Chinese relations will undermine the nostalgia trip of Albanese’s campaign is hard to say, but as Keating once asserted, “the Labor Party makes the political heroes in this country”[4], and Keating’s legend remains invaluable to Albanese’s push.


John Howard

Prime Minister of eleven years, Howard is to Morrison what Keating is to Albanese; an elder-statesman who stands as the manifestation of his party’s strongest years. Howard has been far more flattering of Morrison however, maintaining that the incumbent PM has “demonstrated a mastery of the details of government”[5].

The overlap of Morrison and Howard is significant, both conservatives, monarchists and traditional tax reformists. Both have experienced interests rate increases in their tenures and pressure from controversial foreign policy decisions, Howard for supporting the Iraq war and Morrison for losing the Solomon Islands.

Howard has supported his party passionately in this election, calling independents running in traditional conservative seats “anti-Liberal groupies”[6].

The pay-off for Howard’s cheerleading remains to be seen, but the approval of the life-long Liberal, if nothing else, will certainly rally conservatives around Morrison and secure the incumbent a healthy foundation of voters to build upon.


Kevin Rudd

Undoubtedly the most active of Australia’s former Prime Minister’s, Rudd has campaigned for a Royal Commission into the Murdoch monopoly and maintained a presence in Australia’s representation to the United Nations.

Having worked alongside Albanese, Rudd is firmly in his contemporary’s camp, doing his part to support the Labor campaign by appearing in a number of electorates, frequently confronting media organisations on behalf of his party for misleading headlines and stories[7].

Yet, Rudd’s distant presence in Albanese’s campaign has presented some unique challenges. The former PM’s tenure is closer in the public conscious than Keating’s, meaning many can still remember certain political downfalls that seem to have faded into the background for the Hawke-Keating years. A rumour that Rudd would be appointed as Australia’s ambassador to the United States was met with criticism, leading Albanese to write it off as “complete nonsense”[8].

Whether Rudd will end up receiving a job in a potential Albanese government is hard to place, but it is certain that Rudd has put his full support behind the Labor Party for this election cycle.


Julia Gillard

Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard has remained mostly silent in 2022, releasing only one statement of support for ACT labour senator Katy Gallagher[9]. There is still a short window of time for Gillard to make a statement regarding the race for Prime Minister, but as it stands, her opinion is being kept quiet.


Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott maintains a difficult relationship with the Liberal party. From his sacking in favour for Malcolm Turnbull, to his factional manipulation during his parliamentary career, Abbott sits uneasily with many in the party, and the current Prime Minster is no exception.

Abbott has held several controversial stances from the perspective of Morrison’s cabinet. His support for a Royal Commission into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic response is pulled right from the Labor Party playbook, as he maintains that a “long, hard look” into the governments conduct is necessary[10].

With this said, it is likely that Abbott will remain a Liberal lifer, as he shares very little common ground with the Labor government and Anthony Albanese, who maintained Abbott “was never known for his compassion” on Twitter[11].


Malcolm Turnbull

Turnbull, much like Abbott, is no fan of Scott Morrison. Indeed, Turnbull seems to have followed the lead of departed Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who maintained he lost faith in the Liberal party when it no longer resembled “a liberal party but a conservative party”[12].

Turnbull, a republican centrist, was always an odd-ball in the Liberal party. This has, perhaps unsurprisingly, resulted in his advocation of independent candidates, whom he maintains could help the nation “escape from the thrall of the dominant faction”[13] governing without negotiation.

Nonetheless, Turnbull has refused to comment on if he will support the Liberal candidate running in his old seat of Wentworth[14], suggesting that Turnbull has either had a change of heart politically, or wants to do all he can to rid the nation of Morrison.




[1] Albanese, A 2022, ‘Anthony Albanese's keynote address at the AFR Business Summit 2022’, Australian Financial Review Business Summit, Sydney, March 9,

[2] Vincent, P 2021, ‘Ex-Prime Minister Paul Keating says Australia 'has lost its way' and claims Scott Morrison has given up sovereignty to the US with his controversial submarine deal in a withering takedown’, the Daily Mail, December 18,

[3] Keating, P 2021, ‘Paul Keating addresses the National Press Club on Australia's strategic framework’, November 10,

[4] Keating, P 1991, ‘Keating on Kerr’, Speech, Parliament House, Canberra, April 7,

[5] 2022, ‘Scott Morrison ‘demonstrated a mastery of the detail of government’: John Howard’, Sky News, April 23,

[6] Knott, M 2022, ‘Anti-Liberal groupies’: John Howard blasts ‘teal’ independents’, Sydney Morning Herald, April 23,

[7] Croucher, C 2022, ‘Friends like these: How Palaszczuk, Rudd could 'complicate things' for Albanese’, 9 News, April 23,

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ransley, E 2022, ‘Julia Gillard makes ‘rare’ political pitch to Canberra for Katy Gallagher’,, May 16,

[10] Coughlan, M 2021, ‘Scott Morrison rejects predecessor Tony Abbott’s call for COVID-19 royal commission’, 7 News, August 13,

[11] Albanese, A 2020,, @AlboMP, Twitter, September 2.

[12] 2010, ‘‘Fraser quits Liberal Party’, ABC, May 26,

[13] Turnbull, M 2022, ‘Speech to the Harvard Club of Washington DC by The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull AC 29th Prime Minister of Australia’, Harvard Club of Washington DC, Washington DC, May 6,

[14]2022, ‘Malcolm Turnbull says Australians are ‘voting with their feet’ to support teal independents in election’, The Guardian, May 6,

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