The introduction of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 to the Australian way of life is a dilemma the federal government could do without in an election year.
The challenges of a summer plagued by lengthy testing queues as well as testing shortages will be in the memory of many Australians for some time to come.
So too will abruptly ended festive gatherings and summer holiday plans.
Such issues could be easily swept over, however, given COVID’s looming two-year anniversary, patience for the continued pandemic continues to wear thin for many.
Omicron, and its added complexities, presents a challenge for the Morrison government which is seeking re-election on its handling of the pandemic and renewed optimism that the national economy will rebound from the COVID challenges of the past two years.
Bare supermarket shelves and a downturn in consumer spending give the appearance that the Coalition has underestimated the impact of Omicron.
However, these challenges are plaguing governments across the political spectrum in many parts of the world. Australia is no exception.
Current political polling paints a bleak picture for the government, with numbers showing a decline in support for the Coalition.
The continuing pandemic’s biggest threat to the government is its unpredictability.
A looming election campaign will see the government eager to control the narrative on its achievements during the previous term.
It will spruik the economic measures it has introduced during the course of COVID’s almost long presence in the nation.
So too will it push the initial tightening of Australia’s international borders as the country came to terms with how to deal with a modern-day pandemic.
The subsequent easing of restrictions, promises that lockdowns of large proportions are off the agenda and an eagerness to open the nation up to the world, however, could sway voters either way.
The Labor opposition will try to seize on whatever failures it can find.
It will attempt to describe how it could have better handled the pandemic.
Hindsight, is as they say, a wonderful thing.
Voters will remember that Labor state governments too have grappled with the virus.
The difficulty in navigating a path through this enduring pandemic has been an enormous challenge for Labor and Liberal leaders alike.
Timing of the 2022 federal election will be crucial for either political party in its desire to form the next government.
An earlier election could see Australians cast their vote with the summer of Omicron at the front of mind. A May federal election, which is looking likely, could provide enough time for the latest COVID variant to subside and a new issue could emerge that polarises the Australian public in place of the continuing pandemic.
But the Coalition government’s Omicron-plagued summer of discontent could be enough to bring the election result to the brink.To order photos from this page click here