Election Wrap Up
This morning Anthony Albanese was sworn in as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia. The new Prime Minister was joined by the new Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong and Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher. These new ministers have divided the remaining portfolios between themselves and will act in those roles until next week. Richard Marles is Acting Prime Minister for a couple of days, while Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Wong attend the Quad Leaders Meeting in Tokyo.
The full Ministry will be sworn in next Wednesday and will be followed by a full Ministry meeting, Cabinet meeting, and meetings of the Expenditure Review Committee and National Security Committees of Cabinet. A new Budget will be drafted and delivered before Christmas, so ERC is starting early – hence the new Treasurer and Finance Minister being sworn in today.
At this stage, there is no news on who will be Water Minister following the loss of Terri Butler who lost Griffith to the Greens, nor do we have any news on energy, although it may stay with Chris Bowen. As an aside, I want to thank Terri Butler for her engagement and interest in the portfolio and her willingness to listen to the productive agriculture sector. NIC will work with whomever is chosen in these portfolios and we look forward to ongoing positive working relationships. We wish Terri all the best for the future.
During his first press conference as PM, Mr Albanese nominated a national integrity commission, an employment summit and constitutional recognition and enshrining a voice to parliament for First Nations as top priorities. Mr Albanese also noted he hoped to bring people together after years of conflict fatigue and noted we can do politics better.
The PM told reporters he has received letters guaranteeing confidence and supply from the existing crossbench, but remains hopeful of winning a majority of seats as the counting continues. He said parliament will be back before the end of July, maybe sooner, but they are working to avoid school holidays and a number of international commitments.
In broader terms, the election will be one for the record books. Academics and political pundits will dissect these results for years to come. The Liberal Party has been decimated, including losing its Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg, among numerous others. It lost some seats to Labor, but even more interestingly it lost seats to the “Teal” Independents who ran strongly on climate action and integrity. Female voters in particular turned on the Coalition coupled with major swings in city areas. Western Australia delivered the most emphatic rejection of the Coalition with swings above ten percent (compared to a just under three percent swing nationwide).
Peter Dutton is the most likely person to take on the Liberal leadership although there are a few other names being floated including Angus Taylor, Karen Andrews, Dan Tehan. Most commentators say the party will need a female leader or deputy to try to win back the female vote. Sussan Ley, Michaelia Cash, Jane Hume and Karen Andrews are being mentioned as potential deputies.
There is also increasing conversation about the future of Barnaby Joyce as Leader of The Nationals. Several people have lined up to place the blame for the Liberal losses at his feet, with people campaigning on “A vote for [Candidate] is a vote for Barnaby”. The Nationals look to have held all its seats although Cowper is still in doubt. The leadership is automatically vacated following an election, so it will be interesting to see if Barnaby is challenged. Either way, the future of the Coalition is in question as is the future of the Liberal Party. Much, much more will be discussed on this going forward as the parties assess their performance at the election.
The other very interesting result was the increase in votes for the Greens which has resulted in at least two seats for the party in the House of Representatives, but could be up to five or even six seats in the Lower House. One question will be whether that vote would have been as high if there was a Teal Independent in those seats and if people would have voted Independent over Green as they looked for an alternative to the major parties – who people seem to have abandoned on mass.
The final count will still be some days away, but it looks likely the ALP will have a slim majority in the House of Representatives with a Crossbench of around 15. The Senate will also see some changes with an increase in the Greens numbers, as well as the introduction of new Crossbenchers like David Pocock. Pauline Hanson surprisingly may not secure a seat – it could instead go to the Legalise Cannabis Party or the Greens, but Hanson remains ahead. Campbell Newman and the Liberal Democrats failed to win a seat, and so did Clive Palmer who spent somewhere around $100 million on the campaign. The Palmer advertisements heavily criticised both Labor and Liberal, so it would be interesting to unpick whether that in fact fuelled the push away from the majors.
This is the joy of democracy. It is beautiful in its ugliness. I’ve been asked about chaos and disfunction, but I would say to people this is how the parliament was designed. It is supposed to be a place where local representatives come together to champion their local areas and local issues, while discussing policy which benefits the nation. Parliament is a place for debate and sharing ideas, and negotiation and comprise – and that conversation should be welcomed. When parties have absolute control, other voices aren’t heard and policy outcomes are not always in the best interests of the nation.
Albo is right, politics can be better. I couldn’t agree more and I wish him luck in that process!