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Australian Labor’s hollow victory Its empty gestures will be met with disillusion

Performative gestures won't end poverty (Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Performative gestures won't end poverty (Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


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May 25, 2022   5 mins
and
May 25, 2022   5 mins

On the surface, the triumph of Australian Labor over the Liberal-National Coalition seems like a standard rotation between the same two parties that have alternated in power since the Second World War. Take a closer look, however, and it becomes clear that Australia’s political landscape has undergone a fundamental transformation. The country has finally caught up to the political, social, and cultural crises roiling much of the Western world — a phenomenon aptly dubbed “the end of the end of history”.

Consider some of the basic facts. While narrow victories are not new to Labor — it ran a minority government last time it was in power from 2010 to 2013 — the Coalition has been smashed. With vote counting still ongoing, it is staring down the barrel of losing nearly 20 seats. Its primary vote plummeted by 5.6% since the last election to 35%.

But it is where the seats have been lost that tells the bigger story. At least seven are in the former heartland of the Coalition’s senior partner, the Liberal Party: affluent, inner-city seats in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth that have reliably voted Liberal since before Scott Morrison was a twinkle in his father’s eye. For example, the Melbourne seat of Kooyong, which former treasurer Josh Frydenberg lost to independent Monique Ryan, was held for 32 years by Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. This is the man who literally founded the Liberal Party in 1944 to promote “the true revival of liberal thought which will work for
 the full development of the individual citizen, though not the dull and deadening process of socialism”.

Yet it is not the socialists who triumphed in the leafy boulevards of Kooyong. Indeed, all seven seats have been taken by so-called “teal” independents, committed to traditional liberal values, but disgusted by the Liberal Party’s lack of action on issues such as climate change, corruption and women’s safety. The teals — not incidentally all professional women — would have been members of the Liberal Party in another time, and represented an appealing option to traditional Liberal voters, especially women, fed up with the conservative direction and buffoonish leadership of the Party, under self-proclaimed “bulldozer” Morrison. The few remaining party moderates now fret that these seats may never be won back, even with Morrison gone.

That so many independent candidates succeeded electorally in the context of Australia’s preferential voting system, which strongly tends towards the status-quo, is truly historic. That the Australian Greens, long disdained by Australia’s conservatives and the Murdoch press, are also poised to grab lower-house seats representing some of Brisbane’s most affluent constituencies off the Liberals adds to the astonishment.

Morrison’s impact on the election was not confined to the blue-ribbon heartland. Described as a “psycho” and a “horrible, horrible man” by his own colleagues and as “smirking, unkempt, immature and dishonest” by voters, ScoMo’s time has run out. Relatively unknown when he led the Coalition to a “miracle” victory in 2019, Australian voters have spent the last three years getting to know all about their Prime Minister’s shortcomings: his rabid tribalism, his clownish stunts, his tin ear on social issues like women’s safety, and most importantly his aversion to responsibility when it came to addressing challenges like climate change, the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, disaster preparedness, or stagnating wages.

Even his leadership of the country during the pandemic, highlighted by some commentators as a key achievement, didn’t amount to much. Contrary to hot takes on social media, Morrison did not lose the election because he supported lockdowns and closed borders; rather he was punished most drastically in those states, such as Western Australia and Victoria, where he attacked the state Premiers for their popular Zero Covid policies. The electoral map of Melbourne, for example, now resembles a red wall that the British Labour Party would kill for. WA voters could never forgive Morrison’s support for billionaire Clive Palmer’s legal challenge to Premier McGowan’s hard border policy, or his quip that they should stop hiding in their cave like The Croods and reconnect with the rest of the country.

Yet the Liberal Party’s woes do not mean that the ALP will enjoy smooth sailing. Its strategy of fighting the election with a policy-lite agenda and a focus on Morrison’s character and incompetence will likely suffice to scrape through a small majority when the counting is done. But governing will not be easy, for some of the same reasons that hammered the Liberal Party’s vote: most Australians appear to have had enough of the major parties.

For one, even if it does win an outright majority in the lower house, the ALP will have to contend with coterie of Greens and independents on the Senate crossbench to pass legislation through the upper house, setting up endless fights over its levels of ambition, especially on climate change. This will prove especially challenging as the country confronts myriad problems: a cost-of-living crisis, skyrocketing house prices and massive household debt levels, stagnating wages, an uncertain global geopolitical environment. Then there is climate change, which the election revealed to a top priority for many voters. This is perhaps not so surprising, as Australia’s eastern seaboard is seemingly alternating between fire and flood these days. But the ALP lacks a coherent policy agenda to address these issues, or a strong mandate to implement ambitious responses. Indeed, its share of the vote was even lower than the Coalition’s. At 32%, the ALP’s primary vote is the lowest-ever in the postwar period for a party to form government. This vote-share only translated into an election victory thanks to the magic of Australia’s preferential voting system.

This points to a deeper issue, too. Labor will now confront the same dilemmas that other social democratic parties have faced around the world for some time. The original Third Way innovator in the Eighties, the ALP will have to reap what it helped sow: an atomised society, divided by a growing income, wealth, and cultural gap between a stagnating working class and professional and progressive middle classes; a deindustrialised economy reliant on primary commodity exports and a financialised housing bubble; and widespread lack of trust and faith in democracy, at least in the major parties.

The ALP confronts this context without strong organic links to society. The unions now account for a marginal part of the workforce, while many NGOs and civil society groups are professional outfits with a narrow social base. In this context, the government will find it difficult to unite its various constituencies behind an ambitious policy agenda to tackle Australia’s various challenges.

If experiences elsewhere are anything to go by, the likely outcome is disappointment followed by disillusion, as Labor fails to respond seriously to issues that matter to these voters, and resorts to symbolic and performative gestures to maintain an illusion of governance. As Joe Biden’s Democrats are currently finding out, this is not a sustainable basis for governing. The professional middle classes — whether in the ALP, the Greens, or the ‘teal’ independents — won the latest round. There are no guarantees, however, that their gains would be sustained against the impact of the strong economic headwinds facing Australia.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party, having lost its silvertail supporters and nearly all its small-l liberal parliamentarians, seems destined to travel another familiar route — towards Trump-lite populism and further to the Right. It is hard to see how the party could win back its old base, something which the majority among the remaining parliamentary cohort seems both incapable and disinterested in achieving.

Instead, the Party, likely under the leadership of ultra-conservative former Defence Minister Peter Dutton, has already indicated that it sees its pathway to victory via Labor’s historic heartland — blue-collar, lower-paid electorates on the outskirts of Australia’s major cities. Few doubt that the cost-of-living crisis and rising interest rates will have a worse impact on these communities. Rising petrol prices also bite hard when people rely on motor vehicles for long commutes. But whether the Liberals succeed in their new strategy, and whether these constituencies, combined with the Nationals’ support in the bush, would be enough to win elections remains to be seen.

One thing is certain, though. Australia’s antipodean exceptionalism is gone. No more will Australia be a relic of “end of history” stable politics, amid the wider crisis engulfing western democracies. Although its preferential voting system somewhat blunts the transition, the 2022 election results clearly show that the end of the end of history has finally arrived in Australia.


Shahar Hameiri is a Professor in the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, Australia

ShaharHameiri

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Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

A lot of links to the Guardian here, and an excitable and personalised Guardian type level of analysis, as well as some sloppy misuse of words. If we wanted Guardian analysis we could get it for nothing. The Coalition was not “smashed”. There was a 2.5% swing from the Coalition to Labor on first preferences, and 3.7% after transfers. The Coalition fell from 75 seats to 58. Winston Churchill warned that under the preferential voting system elections would be “determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”, and he was spot on.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I agree that the national swing wasn’t a landslide (though it was here in W.A.) but I think it’s fair to say the Coalition was ‘smashed’ in the sense that they lost absolutely ‘heartland’ seats. In W.A. they lost Curtin (home to several billionaires) to a teal independent, which the Liberals had never lost before. And they lost heir apparent, the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg – a major loss. It looks like they have lost the ‘moderates’ in the party, which they needed to appeal to the broader community. Given that their coalition partners, with their somewhat fringe views, didn’t lose any of their (regional) seats, the coalition as a whole, in opposition, is going to seem to represent a small minority, and with a new leader many will find very unattractive.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Moderation has been in short supply in Australia over the past couple of years. There is nothing “moderate” about a Corbynesque party leader with the sort of reckless high spend net zero policies which have let inflation rip across the western world, and a corrosive socially “progressive” agenda to boot. Increasingly only households where at least one person has a well paid management position in the public sector can afford to live in the poshest suburbs. They are utterly divorced from the economic activity which pays their salaries, and vote accordingly.

Neil McNab
Neil McNab
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

There is nothing “moderate” about a Corbynesque party leader with the sort of reckless high spend net zero policies which have let inflation rip across the western world, and a corrosive socially “progressive” agenda to boot.” Pray name this “Corbynesque” leader in Europe who has so led them astray?

Zoë Colvin
Zoë Colvin
1 year ago

The Coalition & minor right-wing parties won 5561381 votes, whereas Labor & the Greens won fewer – 5471940. The seats lost by the Coalition were without exception lost by the Liberal party, not their partners the National Party & the Queensland Liberal National Party. This suggests that, with more clarity about what & who the Coalition stand for & a more coordinated effort to explain themselves to their core right of centre voters, they can win back those who strayed to Hanson & Palmer & their mainly vindictive anti-Coalition preference deals. The country will then find itself in a battle between metropolitan voters, who are wealthy enough to take the economic consequences of Green policies, & rural & outer suburban voters who have cost of living worries at the centre of their concerns. The numbers even now suggest the Coalition has more support from the latter group than Labor does from anyone. Possibly the non-metropolitan voters, (Howard’s battlers), were actually alienated by the moderate Liberals & their unsuccessful efforts to please the wealthy metropolitans. As to Morrison, your characterisation seems unfair – he was a reasonably okay Prime Minister, caught in an extraordinary set of circumstances. His mistake was to throw away his authority by governing on an equal footing with the states during the pandemic & to be caught taking a holiday when bushfires broke out. The fury of Western Australians at the suggestion that they ought not to be closing their border to the rest of Australia is indicative of the saddest thing the pandemic revealed – Australians apparently don’t think of themselves as Australians when the chips are down but as Queenslanders or Victorians et cetera. Hospitals are built by federal funds & yet states closed theirs to inter-state patients. The cruelty of this policy, seen most starkly in the problem that arose between South Australia & Victoria, which led to the death of newborn babies, does not seem to have bothered voters at all.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  ZoĂ« Colvin

“Possibly the non-metropolitan voters, (Howard’s battlers), were actually alienated by the moderate Liberals & their unsuccessful efforts to please the wealthy metropolitans.”

Zoe, If the moderates in the Liberal Party were unsuccessful, then no one had much vote-changing reason to be alienated by them, they were powerless.

I hardly mentioned Morrison, but his inability to listen lost a lot of women voters. His inability to come up with a reasonable integrity commission lost some more. His stupid stunts (remember bringing a lump of coal into Parliament?) lost the vote of the environmentalists, particularly younger voters. His crass attempts at culture war politics (transwomen in sports) lost him more votes. People tired of it all. Then of course we heard of what some of his colleagues, thanks to their texts, thought of him.

Stephen, the reckless economic policies have been those of the Liberals, for example, giving out big tax cuts to the comfortably well off while borrowing huge amounts of money to do so. Tony Abbott, the most destructive politician you could find, ranted about ‘debt & deficit’ as Opposition Leader, then as PM promptly doubled the national debt, while giving tax cuts. We’ll see how far Labor actually gets with any ‘corrosive’ progressive social policies – my prediction: not very far.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Hamilton
Zoë Colvin
Zoë Colvin
1 year ago

People vote on perception, so whether or not the moderates were powerless (debatable) is neither here nor there. I am surprised by your characterisation of Tony Abbott as “the most destructive politician you could find”. Thanks to Turnbull, we will never know what kind of PM he might have become, but you only have to talk to people who dealt with Abbott in his time as health minister to know that he was not as you describe him. His active engagement with Aboriginal Australia & his enormous energy when raising funds for charity or engaging in voluntary community activities are other indications that he is one of the least destructive of politicians.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

It was blue on blue in those seats they lost, so not a major change in voter preferences. Once the TEAL Independents fails to get anything meaningful done as China builds military threats closer to Australia, these voters will return.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Stewart
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

The teal independents were not independent but part of an activist group organised and bankrolled by billionaire heir Simon Honours a’Court, and they only targeted Coalition held seats

“Environmental policies” will amount to anti mining , drilling, farming, forestry and fishing, and funneling yet more cash to wind farms and solar.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

The independence of the teal candidates is complex. Some, but not most, of their funding came from Homes a’Court. You can see their origin in pre-Homes a’Court times in MPs like Zali Steggal, Helen Haines et al. They say they won’t be forming into a party but keeping their independence.

They stood for election in the seats they lived in and had most chance of winning. They had a lot of help from life-long Liberal Party supporters, and were themselves former Liberals. In Curtin the successful teal candidate is the niece and granddaughter of former Liberal ministers: a Liberal Party blue-blood, as Julie Bishop called her. They’re Liberal Party rebels. Morrison & Abbott could have listened to them and kept them in the fold, but chose to listen to Barnaby Joyce instead – a stupid political decision for which they are now paying the price. The teals got the support notably of women and younger people, the voters who would be most alienated by a Liberal Party led by Peter Dutton.

More cash for solar and wind farms would be a good thing – they’re two resources Australia has a lot of. If we can economically produce green hydrogen from them we may have something to export when the gas runs out.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Hamilton
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Wind is not a “resource”, and converting it into a resource is an expensive and wasteful process, only suitable for isolated grids where there is no other option.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 year ago

It is also very erratic, unlike:”I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running TIDE is a wild call and a clear call, that may not be denied”.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

If wind and solar are so good they will be economic without more public subsidy, inevitably diverted from more productive economic activity. Solar panels with back-up batteries are an expensive way of moving from generating electricity from Australian raw materials to generating from Chinese raw materials.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Quite a few big companies are pursuing green hydrogen … I suppose they’ll expect as much subsidy as they currently get for mining. One thing we could learn from our Asian neighbours is that government subsidies are a way of getting new (later very successful) industries off the ground.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
1 year ago

I assume you mean ‘new to them’ as opposed to actually new. What brand new industries have Australia’s Asian neighbors created? I’m all agog.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Yes, new to them, as green hydrogen would be new to us.

Marko Mars
Marko Mars
1 year ago

We’re still at the stage where the spivs are making oodles of money out of the renewables scam and the peasants aren’t getting shafted as much as they will be when it really gets up and running. The teal independents have cleverly seized this moment in time to run their own scam, preying on the bottomless idiocy of our graduate and administrative classes to garner their support.

I give them two terms and then I think we will see a pitchfork rebellion just as we are seeing in Sri Lanka right now. Sweet schadenfrude.

Strange how the esteemed authors of this article can’t see something so blindingly obvious.

Marko Mars
Marko Mars
1 year ago

I keep seeing this guff about Morrison not being concerned about women’s safety. It must have been something that polled well in the focus groups but it’s really not tethered to reality.

It is I suppose related to those two drunken Liberal staffers who got it together and then the woman got regretful the next day. How the hell do you police that? Maybe chaperones for all women when out drinking, hard to see what else would work. Oh, I know. Let’s have a dozen lectures for the men on how to respect drunk women. No need to educate the women to not get legless, they’re perfect just as they are.

For once in his life Morrison seemed to recognise the sheer pointlessness of government meddling in private decisions and he’s being pilloried for it.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

UnHerd’s summaries of Australian politics are the best you’ll read anywhere.

I agree with just about everything the authors have written but I’m not sure this election result will turn out to be quite ‘the end of the end of history’. This election has been remarkable for the success of a breakaway movement from the conservatives (in Australia, the Liberal Party). These new ‘teal’ independents consist largely of what used to be called ‘doctor’s wives’ – one of them is a doctor and a wife! – wealthy professional people who support a free enterprise economy but are socially progressive and concerned about protecting the environment.

But this has sort of happened before: a group of more centrist, socially progressive Liberal MPs, with a particular interest in the environment, broke away in the late 70s and formed the Australian Democrats, which had some success for many years, but have all but faded away. Around the same time a more left, environmentally-minded group, The Greens, formed, and have been more electorally successful.

The new Labor government, constrained in many ways, will seem to be bumbling along, but will bring in an integrity commission and better environmental policies (two key demands of the ‘teal’ independents) allowing those votes to return to their traditional conservative home – unless the Liberal Party goes populist, as the authors suggest. A likely nasty recession will see votes return to Labor from the Greens, so the result after the next election should look more ‘normal’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Hamilton
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Help. I struggle to identify with Australian politics. Which is the party that pushes against the ever more authoritarian trend in which the country seems to be going? Or maybe it was just authoritarian and I didn’t notice it previously?

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

Lesley, remember your history: Australia, Britain’s former colony, is much like Britain, with a dash of the U.S.A. thrown in. Our constitution was an Act of the British Parliament. But instead of a House of Commons and House of Lords, we have a House of Representatives and a Senate (states’ house), like the Yanks. That’s what our politics is. The idea that Australia is an authoritarian country is laughable. We do have compulsory voting, because to vote is your democratic duty, it gives the process validity if everyone participates. The parties opposed to vaccination, lockdowns etc. are fringe parties. One of them, funded by a billionaire, would disappear but for his money and huge spending on advertisements.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Hamilton
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

I believe Lesley is South African.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I believe she is, but just as I know a little South African history, I’m sure Lesley knows some Australian history.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

The word “your” threw me.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The Great White Shark cruises off Lesley’s fabled beach, before heading to Bondi for lunch.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I’m glad it passed by me on the west coast! Lot of seaweed in the water this morning after yesterday’s storm … out and out I swam hoping to get past it, but then thought of sharks and swam back to shore.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 year ago

Here in ‘Arcadia’ we only have the dreaded Stickleback to contend with, fortunately.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Russell, if you swam out and out, then you perhaps need to extend this bravery to saving your nation from becoming little China 🙂

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

You can’t rely on me Lesley. I was once told that because I had lived in China for a few years I would never be employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs – my allegiances are suspect!

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 year ago

Haven’t you forgotten the Eureka Stockade? An event that made both Peterloo & Bloody Sunday “look like Noddy”.
I tend to agree with Lesley, from my part of this “sceptered isle” it did look as if your police went well OTT, much to our astonishment and regret.
I suspect your proximity to China is having a detrimental effect on your national life, thanks to the process of osmosis.
Perhaps this election will rectify this slide towards “the pit of eternal stench”, or am I being too optimistic?

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I suspect your proximity to China is having a detrimental effect on your national life, thanks to the process of osmosis.”

Do you mean osmosis from Chinese-Australians, or from the mainland? In between Australia and mainland China lies our main holiday destinations – more than a million visits to Bali each year, and then there’s Thailand … so the osmosis from neighbours is of a fairly laid-back kind.

Since China produced it’s ‘demands’ of Australia, and slapped trade bans on our coal, wine, lobsters etc. no side of Australian politics has been exactly pro-China, though they are our most important trading partner. Similar to the U.S., it doesn’t matter what party is in power now, there is a bi-partisan wariness of China. We don’t need the likes Peter Dutton beating the drums of war, we simply need to diplomatically state our position.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
1 year ago

Both.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

So a return to the appeasement of China?
Bye bye Taiwan.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Russell, there is far more vigorous push back both in the USA and the UK against attempts at authoritarianism and various ludicrous rules and laws… so I still don’t understand.
Before lockdown I had the Aussie ‘police state’ at the edges of my consciousness because of feedback from other people (including Brits), but during lockdown I had the time (for the first time in my life), to witness exactly how browbeaten Aussies are and just how meekly they accept rules even when they are obviously suspect. Rules is rules is the rallying cry, regardless of who makes the rules, how suspect the rules are and how damaging the rules are to a spirit of freedom.
The fact that you mention that the only parties opposed to mandatory vaccines, lockdowns etc are fringe parties, only proves my point. This was supposed to be the time for you to question the increasingly dodgy narrative, but no, you rolled over. I think most of you could mostly be marched off a cliff. Lemmings.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

Last week I marched down the street, like a lemming, to the doctor’s and had my fourth COVID vaccination, plus an influenza vaccination, all on top of a whooping cough vaccination, so obviously meek, browbeaten and totally unaware that I had lost my ‘freedom’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Hamilton
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Russell, have the damning results of (especially) the mRNA trials not hit your ears and eyes yet? They are everywhere. We talk about it often in our local community, so maybe we are just better read than you are and certainly more rebellious and curious! I think that what you are doing is the epitome of being Australian. Did you not have a problem with the ‘containment camps’? The vaccine mandates which certainly takes away freedoms the manhandling of people ‘breaking lockdown’, the atrocious way people allergic to the vaccines were treated?
PS hope you didn’t jaywalk on your way down the street to get your booster!

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

Not so much as a micro-rebellion like jaywalking.

I think the mRNA vaccines are experimental, since the technology is new, but the doctors no longer offer AZ because a bunch of anti-vaxxers created enough hysteria about AZ that now all I can get is Pfizer. So, I choose to go with the experimental and (sort of) trust that the scientific establishment isn’t entirely lying to us. So far so good – I haven’t heard of anyone who even knows of someone who has been injured by the vaccines.

I don’t approve of mandatory vaccination, but I have no problem whatsoever with quarantine camps, which we’ve used in the past, and I would much prefer to be in the newly built ones than to be stuck in a sealed city hotel room. The new ones have outdoor areas and fresh air. As to the girl who was interviewed on UnHerd – she I would send to one of our offshore detention camps, forever.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago

“The idea that Australia is an authoritarian country is laughable 
 The parties opposed to vaccination, lockdowns etc. are fringe parties.”

Wow, just wow.

Ceelly Hay
Ceelly Hay
1 year ago

It is an excellent summary. But what part will the younger (under 40) voters play in the future? Everyone under a certain age is less likely to be secure financially than previous generations. How will this affect their voting?
I remember under Bob Hawke’s Labor Party, the Australian government abandoned the previous ‘full employment’ policy controlling inflation by keeping a section of the population, mainly young, unemployed.
At university, the effects were very apparent. After years when all the graduating classes got work; then, in a single year, most people could not get jobs immediately after uni. It took a while to get work. Not much has changed in the past 30 years, except the policy has affected more people. More people are less financially secure as a result. With skilled migration increasing the competition for houses and work, on top of this. How will a growing number of less secure voters affect the future?
Much of the current social unrest in the west, including Trump as president, directly results from insecure workers due to government policies. But unfortunately, the left’s identity politics and culture wars justify ignoring the problem labelling it as ‘people having the wrong values’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ceelly Hay
Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago

If you don’t begin an article on Australian politics by acknowledging the indigenous owners of the land then you can’t be taken seriously. At least that’s what Albo wants us to believe, judging from his acceptance speech.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

Thanks for this nuanced article. All the reporting on the Australian election I read over the weekend amounted to “the *correct* party (i.e. for the left-leaning press’s taste), Labour won – yay!” plus the same kind of unreflected gushing that is usually reserved for Jacinda Ardern. I definitely didn’t feel like I had been properly informed.
I have to say, ScoMo did seem like a really dodgy and uncouth piece of work – his pronouncements on green policy and the environment tactless and strategically daft. I think he deserved to lose. Albanese seems to be talking the talk on the environment and the green transition at least, but how is it going to be financed? Australia’s finances look pretty parlous to me and the green transition is going to cost a LOT. And is this guy going to be China’s patsy?

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yes, as evidenced by appointing the PRC appeaser Richard Marles as Defence minister.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

No, as evidenced by his rush from being sworn in to get straight to the airport and fly up to Tokyo to the AUKUS meeting and start being best friends with the Americans.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

Sorry, it was a Quad meeting, not AUKUS (so many ways to be close to the U.S.)

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

Cosying up to the Yanks is a better idea than cosying up to China or being naive about the fact that living in a geopolitically risky neighbourhood requires strong alliances. I’d be grateful about their (and Britain’s) willingness to support you.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yes, they’ll be supporting us for as long as they think it’s in their interest to do so.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

You can complain about the Americans as much as you want – but them being there for you is much better than them not being there for you.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

They’re not being here for us, they’re being here for them. Hopefully the arrangement will continue.

Marko Mars
Marko Mars
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Call that tosh nuanced?