Australian leader puts out video recalling broken home

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2016 6:40 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is trying to fight a perception that his wealth puts him out of touch with ordinary people by releasing a campaign video in which he describes being raised by his father after his mother left when he was 9.

The 80-second video, entitled "My Dad," came out late Sunday, less than a month before July 2 general elections.

"He didn't have much money, but he worked hard and sacrificed so that I could go to school and achieve what he couldn't," Turnbull wrote about his father in a statement accompanying the video link.

On the campaign trail, Turnbull has boasted how his experience as a successful merchant banker qualifies him to steer the Australian economy. But opposition leader Bill Shorten, a former labor union boss, argues that Turnbull is focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy instead of helping the poor.

Asked at a press conference on Monday whether the video was meant to "counter misconceptions," Turnbull's eyes moistened as he replied.

"It's important to honor your father," he said. "I would not be the man I am today without him."

His father, Bruce Turnbull, worked as a hotel broker to earn money to send his son to one of Sydney's most exclusive boarding schools.

The video reflects concerns that some members of Turnbull's conservative Liberal Party "are very concerned that voters don't respond well to Turnbull's wealth," said Monash University political scientist Nick Economou.

Polls show that the public is evenly split between the Liberal Party's coalition and Shorten's center-left Labor Party. Australians don't directly elect their prime minister; they vote for the 150 members of the House of Representatives and the leader of a party with a majority there becomes prime minister.

When asked who they prefer as prime minister, survey respondents prefer Turnbull to Shorten, 45 percent to 30 percent, according to a poll by Sydney market research company Galaxy Research published in The Australian newspaper Monday. However, Turnbull's popularity has declined — and Shorten's has increased — since the campaign began about a month ago.

The poll was a nationwide survey of 1,867 voters and had a 2.4 percentage point margin of error.