Australian Election: Labor victory could still be a failure for labour

EDITORIAL


ANTHONY Albanese’s victory in Australia could certainly be seen as another victory for a resurgent global centre-left.

But while it’s a welcome victory for Labor against the Liberal/National coalition, it’s a rather hollow victory for labour itself – unless Albanese takes decisive action, quickly.

Naturally, electoral success against parties backed by Rupert Murdoch should be celebrated. Scott Morrison failed to take enough action on climate change, both in rhetoric and material policy, even after Australia was hit with months of devastating wildfires.

To Australian progressives, there is a clear recognition that the electorate have now rejected the politics of Murdoch and conservatism after years of ineffective rule.

But the hope is also tentative – Albanese, while certainly a progressive in terms of ideology, needs to show he can take action, or risk the pendulum swinging back in a few years.

Though Albanese is seen as a leader of the Labor Left – and has the upbringing and political career to back it – the actual election campaign saw him run as a centrist.

Labour have indicated that change may be slow and steady, rather than transformative – Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said last month: “We don’t pretend that an incoming government of either political persuasion can turn that ship around quickly.

“The damage that has been done by this government – which doubled the debt even before the pandemic, means that one budget, one term in office will not completely fix the damage that’s been done to the economy or to the budget.”

Considering the record of the Liberal/National Coalition, it can be argued true that Labor don’t necessarily have the political or economic rope to enforce a progressive agenda from the off. But there is a fine line to tread between navigating their first term with a narrow majority and failing to take advantage for the sake of the Australian working class.

It should also be remembered that, much like the local elections in the UK this year, this was more a loss for the Liberal/National coalition rather than a victory for Labor.

Votes for the two main parties fell to an all-time low of 68.5 per cent, with the Greens and independents picking up steam across Australia.

So while it didn’t work out for Victor Kline and TNL, there is certainly an undercurrent of progressive agitation across the nation – whether that will force Albanese to swing further left is another question.

Albanese and the Australian Labor Party now have a unique opportunity to enact progressive politics in a nation previously dominated by Murdoch-backed parties – but whether their first few months are more Starmer, or more Corbyn, will be in the minds of progressives worldwide.

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Featured Image: Ted86 @WikimediaCommons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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