“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.” – George Bernard Shaw in Back to Methuselah. Malcolm Fraser (Prime Minister 1975-1983) paraphrased Shaw saying: Life wasn’t meant to be easy. This became Fraser’s best known line.
The Liberal Party has suffered an historic defeat under Morrison and both major parties have had their lowest ever primary vote with only 35% voting LNP and 32% voting Labor. About 12% voted Green. The Liberals are such dills ignoring the secular base of the party for the religious right. Morrison even brought in his own candidates in NSW. People who do not represent their community and so lost out to independents. Their alternative leader Josh Frydenberg even lost his seat. Peter Dutton just survived in Dickson in Queensland and may end up leading the party.
Antonio Albanese is the first Italian-Australian Prime Minister. His father was from South-East Italy and his mother was Irish Catholic.
The Greens are unlikely to have balance-of-power in the house of representatives and will sit on the cross benches with the TEAL (liberal) independents as a third force in the parliament. Climate action is their main focus however Greens leader Adam Bandt has signalled that he will press the Labor government on inequality in health and housing. On the cross benches for the Greens, we will see Max Chandler-Mather (Griffith) and Elizabeth Watson Brown (Ryan) in the house of reps and Penny Allman-Payne and Larissa Waters (Qld) in the senate from Queensland. In NSW, former NSW Greens parliamentarian, David Shoebridge, gets into the senate. Other wins for the Greens are Lidia Thorpe in Victoria, Peter Whish-Wilson in Tasmania, Dorinda Cox in Western Australia and Barbara Pocock in South Australia.
New managers of capitalism in Australia
Labor wins power at a time when capitalism is in severe crisis. Will Labor attempt social reform and put Dental and Mental into Medicare? How will they fund it? By cutting government subsidy to private health funds? Not likely. The new treasurer Jim Chalmers is right-wing Labor from Queensland and may resist the pressure for reform to both health and education. On housing Labor has made a big fuss over Albanese having been raised in public housing. With record house prices, the new managers of capitalism in Australia will struggle to arrest growing inequality in housing, record low wages and real unemployment.
Meanwhile in the background is Australia’s billionaire Simon à Court who is pressing for more government subsidies for renewable energy and electric cars by giving some financial backing to the TEAL independents. True to form the billionaire wants taxpayers to foot the bill for these reforms and is not willing to put up his own billions. Holmes à Court may be looking to be an Australian Elon Musk.
As Albanese goes to the QUAD meeting in Tokyo it is unlikely that he will raise the plight of Julian Assange with President Biden and if he does he will get short shrift from that spiteful administration who still blame Assange for Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 Presidential election.
On the bright side, the Tamil refugees will get to return to Biloela but Labor is unlikely to look too kindly to new boat arrivals having first introduced mandatory detention in the early 1990s.
Inequality was raised as a major concern by the Greens in the 2022 election campaign. However a socialist redistribution of wealth is unlikely to come from the Greens or Labor. Movement on that front will only come from the bottom up. Antonio Albanese is certainly no Jeremy Corbyn. He won’t be singing the Red Flag on election night.
Life wasn’t meant to easy under Albanese.
Workers of all countries unite!
Ed., 23 May 2022.