After nine years as the opposition, the Labor party of Australia ousted the conservative Liberal-National coalition. As a result, the Australian Parliamentary election was held on May 21, 2022. The left-wing Labor party, led by Antony Albanese, has won the election and emerged as the largest party in the parliament.
Results project they have won 72 seats, close to the requirement of 76 to form a majority government. The party will likely seek a coalition with smaller parties, which also performed well in the election. For instance, the Green party has secured a record number of votes. Individual candidates also did well, winning in constituencies previously controlled by the Liberals. Thus, indirectly causing the Liberal’s defeat.
The Labor leader Albanese is a veteran in Australian politics, elected as a member of parliament in 1996, and later merged to the party’s leader in 2019. He, and four other frontbench colleagues, will be sworn in as Prime Minister and other leading positions on 23 May.
Scott Morrison, the incumbent Prime Minister, has conceded and congratulated his rival for the victory. He will also resign as the Liberal party leader.
The Liberal party’s nine-year reign has ended with controversies and internal struggle. There has been criticism of PM Morrison for his incompetence in handling internal and external issues.
Domestically, the government’s covid lockdown policy has been widely unpopular and controversial. Most cities were in complete isolation for months, adding up to almost a year and a half, along with the Foreign travel ban. As most economic activities ceased, the aftermath of the pandemic triggered a large economic recession. Similar to France’s presidential election, living prices are also a heated topic. The cost of living has risen dramatically over the past years. It was a major concern for young Australians as opportunities remained in urban areas, where prices were the highest.
International issues also strike the government as inefficient. For example, the wide fire of 2019-2020 shocked the world as millions of hectares were on fire, killing and displacing 3 billion animals. For months, the destruction of rural settlements and major cities was in smoke for three months. Yet, the government took a relaxing approach to handle climate change, a key concern among Australians.
Furthermore, the recently leaked document of the Solomon Islands suggested a new security alliance between the archipelago and China, the nation’s major security threat and regional competitor. Despite the existing cooperation between Canberra and the Solomons, the increasing Chinese influence, and the prospect of naval deployment, undoubtedly challenge Australia’s ability to secure its backyard.
Indeed, the government, along with its Western allies, has shifted attention to countering the rise of China. The country began to diversify its market from China while joining the AUKUS, a security alliance with the US and UK which promised naval cooperation and development. However, allowing the Solomons to be under Chinese influence is too big of a failure. The Labor party did have a record of being soft on Beijing. However, hostilities in recent years might change the party’s historic attitude toward China.
The election might be a significant turning point for Australia. It ends the decade of the rule of the conservative Liberal Party. Additionally, it will switch Australia’s economic and environmental policies. The new Prime Minister's first duty will be to attend the QUAD conference in Tokyo, where leaders of the US, India, and Japan will meet up to discuss their collective effort to counter China.
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