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Australia Votes: Liberals In

  • September 8th, 2013
  • Posted by EU Australia

Tony abbott 2Voting in Australia has produced a new government, the Liberal-National Party coalition gaining a clear victory with a voting swing of towards 3.6%.

NEW NATIONAL PROGRAM

“I look forward to leading a future government that is competent and trustworthy”, said the incoming Prime Minister, Tony Abbott (picture), reiterating two of his long-standing claims against the other side.

He also declared an early attack on “stopping the boats”, the blocking of refugee movements across the seas; cancelling the carbon tax linked to an emissions trading scheme, for the environment, (contracted also to link with the ETS in Europe); and, not so boldly, to get the federal budget “on track” to “believable surplus”.

The electoral win was strongest in terms of the primary vote, the initial votes cast before the distribution of ballots from minor parties to the two leaders.

The Labor vote was the “lowest in more than 100 years”, said the Prime Minister elect, though the losses had not all leaked to his own column.

SIGNS OF RELIEF

Labor was demonstrating a clear sense of relief at the limits to the party’s defeat.

A feature of the election campaign had been a loud chorus of expectation that the party faced an historic wipe-out, with possible loss of 40 of its 72 seats in the House of Representatives – more than double the eventual outcome.

Projections at the close of counting on election night were Liberal- National Party 90, Labor 56, others 4.

A feature of the night in Australia was that the loss had come to about 16 seats; the cabinet stayed in parliament with the loss of no Ministers;  party spokespersons were talking about being in a viable position  to come out of the defeat well under a new generation of leaders.

RuddThe lead-up had seen high drama, or low-down shulduggery on the Labor side, from a back-room dismissal of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (picture) in 2010, in favour of Julia Gillard; his back-room campaign to get the job back, and his come-back party-room victory against Ms Gillard less than two months ago, this year.

Most commented that the disunity had done more harm than bumbling in policy and administration.

The Australian economy having weathered the storm of the Global Financial Crisis well, through heavy fiscal stimulus, has been measuring well on jobs figures, modest interest rates and slow inflation, manageable indebtedness and a Triple-A rating for government borrowing.

Major programs were legislated, and accepted for the most part by the then Opposition, for a large-scale expansion of education and disability care.

“I’d give us nine out of ten for governing the country, but zero out of ten for governing ourselves”, said the outgoing Minister, Tanya Plibersek.

MEDIA GONE FERAL

Kevin Rudd announced he was giving up the leadership of his party, though plainly glad to have stemmed the tide of rejection, especially in his home state of Queensland where the damage was slight.

“I saw Sky News saying just before we’re all gone, including me!”, he said.

rupert-murdoch2The gybe was at the Sky proprietor, Rupert Murdoch (picture), the media ‘bad boy’, subject of castigating inquiries by legislators in the United Kingdom, who had  set his extensive media outlets in Australia onto the outgoing  government in full attacking mode.  See EUAustralia Online: What future for media reforms?, (25.3.13); Commons committee’s harsh finding on Murdoch, (2.5.12).

The campaign by the Newscorp group became among the most egregious in  postwar history, rivaling a similar operation from the same source in 1975.

Trumpeting the loose polls became a shrugging-off of journalism; it was  one of the group’s newspapers that came up with the jeopardising  of the 40 seats, reading off too many straw-polls in single constituencies, with small samples, done by robots.

In the end these surveys were dismissed by the electoral analyst of the national broadcaster, Australian ABC, as “rubbish”.

GREAT SHOW ON THE HUSTINGS

Regardless of voting intention, crowds enjoyed the media stunts of rthe party leaders.

Where the country occupies a whole continent, campaigning Prime Ministers and their challengers feel they have to rush from place to place asll over it, to stroll through shopping malls, visit factories or mines wearing industrial clothing and hats, or address crowds.

Mr Abbot, with athletic background, this time did some physical training on television with soldiers in Darwin, and ran up the large landmark of Townsville, Castle Hill.

Abbott beach Rudd selfieMr Rudd, portly by comparison, made a thing out of shooting selfies with younger members of the crowds around him.

How many votes are there, in standing up well to a gruelling work-out, or grinning for the phone-cam?

WORLD STAGE A SIDE-SHOW

Kevin Rudd had been half-expected to fit in a rushed trip to St Petersburg for the summit of leaders from the leading economies, the G20 (5-6.9.13).

St PetersburgDiplomatic efforts by the Labor government had secured the chairmanship of that body, for the next summit in November 2014, in Brisbane; together with obtaining a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations.

In the event the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, excused from the electoral combat at home,  was present to sign on to a declaration  by 11 of the 20 states that the government of Syria was held accountable for the use of chemical gas against 1400 or more of its citizens.

The occasion  saw a stand-off between the United States President Barack Obama, and the host, Vladimir Putin, over the outrage in Damascus.

The Russian President, content that most governments were rejecting the idea of punitive raids against the Syrian regime, mixed it with claims the charges against that regime lacked evidence, or even that the deed was  done by the insurgents fighting against it.

 

Reference

G20 Russia,(Home).http://www.g20.org/docs/summit/summit_2013.html, (7.9.13).

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