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Australian Voters Kicked Out The Conservatives, But... Don't Expect Fundamental Changes From Labor


Anthony Albanese, far more like Biden than like Bernie

Australia just had its general election and the right-wing party (The Liberals) was turned out of office after 3 terms/9 years. With 55.9% of the vote counted, Trump-like prime minister Scott Morrison conceded to Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party. All 151 House seats were up for grabs, as were 40 of the 76 Senate seats. The government is determined in the House (not the Senate). Albanese has signaled a slightly left-of-center government.



Murdoch, who plays an outsized role in Australian politics, has been an important booster for rightists and his media properties pushed hard for another term for Morrison with his big national paper, The Australian, and his local papers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide all endorsing the Liberal coalition. Despite Murdoch, Western Australia abandoned the conservatives and swung left even more strongly than polls were predicting it would.



This morning, the NY Times was reporting Labor has already won 72 seats (of the 76 needed to form a government) to the Liberals' 55, with strong swings towards the Greens and left-wing independent parties willing to form a coalition government with Albanese. That would be a better outcome than an outright Labor majority-- still a likelihood-- since the independent candidates are more progressive than Labor.


A handful of races were still too close to call, but early results showed Labor winning at least 72 seats of the 76 needed to form a government. Alliances with independent and minor-party victors would give it a majority if it does not reach 76 seats by itself.
The Labor victory, on a campaign promising “renewal not revolution,” makes Albanese the fourth Labor leader to win the government from the opposition since World War II. After a race that became a referendum on Mr. Morrison and his combative style-- in the final days he acknowledged that he could be “a bit of a bulldozer” and promised to change-- the results pointed to exhaustion with the incumbent more than enthusiasm for the challenger.
...Political analysts said the conservative Liberal-National coalition faltered in large part because the prime minister had lost the public’s trust as he defended a government pulled to the right by members who refused to seriously tackle problems like climate change, integrity in government and sexual harassment in politics.
Instead of Morrison’s blustery style-- leading a government that passed little memorable legislation but successfully managed the early months of the pandemic -- Albanese promised to be more collaborative, sharing the spotlight and the decision-making.
...Albanese has promised to push for a higher minimum wage and for more money for the “caring economy”-- child care centers, health care, nursing homes and disability services.
He and his party also pledged to nearly double Australia’s 2030 target for cuts to carbon emissions, bringing the country more in line with other developed countries; to support a federal anti-corruption commission; and to increase foreign aid in a broader plan to tighten relations with Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands to counter China’s growing ambitions.
James Curran, a historian at the University of Sydney, said many of Australia’s most successful Labor leaders-- such as Paul Keating or Bob Hawke-- exuded charisma and promised big shifts in how Australia worked, domestically and internationally.
Albanese, by contrast, won with a pitch for workmanlike competence and incremental change.

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