We had a late night staying up to see as many of the results roll in as we could, and so today my mind is all ajumble with everything I noticed. Forgive me for the dot point-style post! For context, if you haven’t heard, it’s pretty clear that the Liberal/National government has been defeated and that Labor will lead the next one, but it’s still not clear whether they have a majority outright or whether they’ll need the support of some crossbenchers to govern. Our next PM’ll be Anthony Albanese, which means the dashing Toto Albanese is set to become Australia’s First Pet 😉
- Considering the unambitious, lacklustre campaign Labor ran, I think it’d pretty hard to be excited that they’re going to form the next government. However, I definitely do feel a huge sense of relief. I’m admittedly biased but it’s felt like the Libs were lurching from one crisis to the next, all of which made them completely unelectable (all the way back to the horrorshow of the 2014 budget) and the fact that they lasted nine years in power is absolutely unreal.
- The Greens had a really good night! Until now they’d only had one lower house seat (Melbourne), but this election it looks like they’ll pick up at least two and maybe three seats in Brisbane, and they’re still in with a chance in Macnamara (inner-southern suburbs of Melbourne) too. In the half-senate selection they’ve also secured one senator per state, which is a relief.
- The teal independents also had a good night. In the weeks leading up to the election the media was all like, “the teal independents aren’t going to win all the seats they’re running in, but if they can pick up one or two…” My friends, they’ve won about seven. (Well, one of those was a retain, but the point is there are seven of them.) My local independent candidate, Zoe Daniel, was one of the first that the media was prepared to admit had won her seat. For the first time in my life, my sitting federal MP is not going to be a member of the Liberal Party and that feels surprisingly great!
- The seat I grew up in, Higgins, has elected a Labor MP for the first time ever. When I was growing up there it was as safe as safe could be for the Liberals (I mean it’s the seat with Toorak and Malvern in it for crying out loud), so that feels like a huge achievement for Labor. They’ve picked up a few other seats too, of course, with their performance in Perth particularly impressive (I mean they had a swing of like 10% to them across WA). They’re still in contention for some seats that usually go to the Liberals, too, like Deakin and Menzies in Melbourne, Bennelong in Sydney and Sturt in Adelaide.
- Kristina Keneally did not win in Fowler, where the Labor Party had parachuted her in over the head of an already-preselected candidate who belonged to the local Vietnamese community (see relevant link post). The independent who won instead, Dai Le, looks like she kind of sucks (she’s not a teal – she’s a disgruntled ex-Liberal who got kicked out of the Liberals for running against a Lib-endorsed candidate in council elections) but I am still happy to see Keneally not win that seat because she absolutely did not deserve it.
- Australian territories only get two senators each, and it looks like the ACT has booted out the one of theirs who was a Liberal for a teal independent. Good to see.
The election as a whole seems to be more of a story of how the Liberals lost than how Labor won. And the Liberals lost because people are sick of their inaction on climate change, their inaction on the natural disasters getting more and more frequent and intense due to climate change, the lack of seriousness with which they dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic (state premiers basically carried us through that, at least until Dom Perottet replaced Gladys Berejiklian in NSW and then it was game over for everyone), their “death by a thousand cuts” to the public healthcare system and aged care…
I do hope Labor will do something to fix the healthcare system, including the NDIS and aged care. I hope they’ll take real action on climate change. I hope they’ll launch a federal ICAC, an independent body with teeth to investigate governmental corruption. But I also really want them to do a number of things they’ve remained silent about, at least this election campaign. I want them to increase welfare benefits and end the vile bureaucratic harassment of recipients that’s escalated continuously under the Libs’ watch (Robodebt being only one example). I want them to resettle not only the Biloela family in Australia, but every other asylum seeker who comes here. I want them to carry out media reform, so the Murdoch, 9Fairfax, and Stokes empires stop wielding such massive influence. I want them to actually do something real and meaningful about housing inaffordability, although that’ll probably take a high degree of cooperation with the states. I want them to stop weakening our rights to data privacy, encrypted messaging, etc. and to actually turn around and start strengthening these rights instead. And hell, none of this is actually radical – it’s just like standards are so low right now that even crumbs would be amazing.
Honestly, Labor never really does much of anything without immense public pressure, so I guess what I hope is that the public pressure is there. On the positive side, Labor’s primary vote was less than 32% and with Greens and “perceived to be progressive” independents winning seats all over the place, I think they should have been put on notice that people are sick of business as usual. Maybe they’ll be feeling the pressure to shape up. We’ll see.