Australia’s conservatives set to secure majority government

Australia‘s ruling centre-right coalition is poised to secure a governing majority in its shock election victory over the centre-left Labor Party, the national broadcaster ABC has projected.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition defied forecasts to be re-elected on Saturday, in what he called a political miracle.

On Monday, ABC’s election analysts projected that Morrison’s coalition will hold at least 77 seats in the 151-member lower house, one more than needed to govern on its own.

Labor, which was widely expected to win the election, is set to claim 68 seats, with independents and minor parties taking six.

The coalition will not hold a majority in the Senate, the upper house, meaning it will need the support of independents and minor parties to pass legislation.

A number of close races across the country were still to be officially decided following Saturday’s vote, with the formal count by the Australian Electoral Commission not expected to conclude until later this week.

The expected result sent Australian banking, property and health-related stocks to an 11-year high on Monday as investors cheered.

Australia PM Scott Morrison returns after tight election (2:37)

Cabinet reshuffle

Among Morrison’s first tasks following his victory was forming a new cabinet after several moderate ministers chose to retire from politics rather than contest the election. The personnel shift will be closely watched for signs of policy changes.

“The cabinet reshuffle will indicate whether he plans to move on polices such as climate change,” aid Rodney Tiffen, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Sydney, told Reuters news agency.

“A big signal will be whether he moves the ministers for environment and energy. If he replaces them with people who have argued for stronger action, it will be marker.”

Morrison has rejected efforts to increase the use of renewables to generate electricity, arguing it would damage the economy which relies on coal-fired power and mining exports.

The coalition has stuck to an official target to cut carbon emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, but the United Nations has warned Australia was unlikely to meet this goal.

Labor campaigned on more aggressive targets, aiming to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach 50 percent renewable power by 2030.

The re-elected Liberal-led coalition has no renewable energy target beyond 2020

Morrison has indicated he will also make promised income tax cuts a priority once the parliamentary numbers are confirmed.

Labor soul-searching

After a long and bitter election campaign, he said Australians have had enough of politics.

“They’ve had their say, they’ve made their decision. Now they expect us to get on with it so they can get on with their lives,” Morrison told 2GB Radio in Sydney.

“That’s what the quiet Australians have said and I’m going to honour that.”

Morrison’s surprise victory has prompted soul searching within Labor, which was leading all the opinion polls in the two years before Saturday.

“Saturday wasn’t Labor’s night but the sun still came up the next morning,” Bill Shorten, who stepped down as Labor leader on Saturday night after the loss, wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday.

“The fight goes on and the cause that we champion, equality of opportunity for all Australians, endures. We can’t change the past but we can change the future and that’s what politics is all about.”

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