Australian voters have delivered a stark rebuke to both of the major political parties, awarding votes to a raft of new independent MPs who will take seats in the new lower house of the Australian parliament. Both major parties – the Liberal/National conservative coalition and the centre-left Australian Labor Party – lost their way in a sea of big changes to the shape of the Australian electorate.
Despite recording their lowest national poll result, 32.8% of the total vote, the Australian Labor Party will likely be able to form a majority government – they have to reach 76 seats. Whilst that seems a likely outcome at this stage of the vote count, even if they fall short by a few seats, Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese says they will be happy to work with the record new list of independent MPs to roll out their agenda for the life of the next parliament.
Candidates standing as independents or minor parties polled just over 30% of the total vote in yesterday’s federal election, a record, led by the Greens and a raft of new independents MPs under the banner of the “Teal Wave” who were able to unseat sitting members from some of the safest seats in both New South Wales and Victoria, Australia’s most populous states. In Western Australia there was a particularly stern rebuke of the Liberal government and the former PM Scott Morrison.
The swing toward Greens and Independents is said by some analysts to be due to the electorate’s concerns about climate change and targets to reduce carbon emissions, and the failure by the former coalition Liberal/National government to address the issue. Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the research group the Climate Council, said in a statement that “millions of Australians have put climate first”.
“Now, it’s time for a radical reset on how this great nation of ours acts upon the climate challenge,”
Labor has promised to cut emissions by 43% by 2030, and to reach net zero by 2050, partly by pressuring companies to make cuts. But another research institute, Climate Analytics, says Labor’s plans don’t go far enough to keep global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.
The PM-elect will be sworn in tomorrow morning by the Australian Governor General and then head off to Japan to take part in the Quad Summit in Tokyo where leaders from the US, Australia, Japan and India will meet to discuss the Russian-Ukraine conflict and a regional approach to China. The Quad meeting also comes as the US and allies aim to convince India to take a harder line on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.