Australia’s Labor Party (ALP) looks to be on track to form a majority government in the coming days as voters sent the Liberal-National Coalition and Prime Minister Scott Morrison a strong rebuke, electing ALP leader Anthony Albanese to be the next prime minister.
In Australia, the Liberal Party is considered to be a center-right party, while the Labor Party, its main opposition, is considered center-left. With 14 races still yet to call, Labor has 72 seats locked up and is looking good to win at least four more seats, which will give Labor its first government victory in nine years. The Liberal Party ran a distant second, grabbing only 52 seats as of this writing.
Morrison conceded the election to Albanese late Saturday night, telling supporters, “I’ve always believed in Australians and their judgment, and I’ve always been prepared to accept their verdict.”
Albanese promised — as all politicians do — to unite the country.
“I will work every day to bring Australians together. And I will lead a government worthy of the people of Australia,” the new prime minister promised. “I can promise all Australians this, no matter how you voted today, the government I lead will respect every one of you every day.”
Albanese may have to be sworn in temporarily as an “acting” prime minister, as the Labor Party has yet to officially garner the 76 seats needed to nail down a majority government. Should the ALP not get to 76 seats, Albanese is expected to be able to form a governing coalition with the assistance of smaller left-wing parties.
According to many observers, climate hysteria also won the day in the Land Down Under, as Green Party candidates and candidates known as Teal independents, who are in favor of draconian climate-change measures, made a strong showing, sending at least 12 candidates to parliament.
“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,” Climate Council’s Amanda McKenzie said in a statement.
The success of the Teal independents and the Green Party was surprising even to many climate activists.
“I think everyone has been taken by surprise by these results,” said Marija Taflaga of Australian National University. “I think it will mean there will be greater and faster action on climate change more broadly.”
The Labor Party has pledged to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 43 percent by the year 2030 and has promised that Australia will reach “net zero” emissions by 2050.
Among the Labor Party’s plans are to push a surge toward so-called renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Critics from the Teal independents and the Greens decry the fact that the Labor Party has also said it would consider approving new coal projects, providing that they are economically and environmentally viable.
National Party leader and former senator Matt Canavan had a different take. Canavan posited that the Liberal/National Party Coalition went too far to the left and lost what he called “the forgotten people.”
“We, unfortunately, have lost last night because we have forgotten the forgotten people,” Canavan told Sky News.
“We adopted a Liberal moderate platform on energy, on climate, on the culture issues, and that platform has failed.”
In addition to the alleged climate-change factor, the Morrison-led government had become deeply unpopular during the Covid-19 pandemic as it allowed states to set draconian restrictions.
Government change in Australia moves fast, and Albanese should be sworn in — at least on an “acting” basis — as soon as Monday. On Tuesday, the new prime minister will head out on his first state visit, going to Japan to meet with the nations of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue — also referred to as the Quad — which includes Australia, the United States, Japan, and India.
President Joe Biden will represent the United States at the meetings.
“Traveling to the Quad meeting in week one signifies how important we believe this partnership is for our security,” said Labor Leader and probable cabinet member Penny Wong. “And we will be taking new energy and much more to the table — including our commitment to act on climate change after a lost decade.”
The Australian election is a cautionary tale for America in coming years. While the GOP looks ready to make major gains in November with Joe Biden’s presidency floundering, sometimes a single issue can rouse a zealous opposition to action with votes. In Australia, climate-change zealots appear to have shifted momentum to the far left. Could climate change (or abortion) create a similar result in the United States?