[This article was first published in the Edinburgh Evening News on the 21st of May 2019]
Australian politics have been, if you can imagine, even more tumultuous than the UK’s in recent years. They’ve had five different Prime Ministers since 2013, with the most recent expected to return a sixth in Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Labor Party.
Australia has had a consistently strong economy but there’s deep rooted inequality and wages have been stagnant for some time despite the good economic times. It was fertile ground for a left wing victory, but it was not to be.
Much to everyone’s surprise, including all the pollsters, the sitting Prime Minister Scott Morrison held on to his job after styling himself as the “Daggy dad” of the nation. He felt safe and the nation put their trust in him over the more radical alternatives.
One of his Liberal colleagues and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to a sticky end though. Famous for electioneering in his speedos and being the subject of Julia Gillard’s famous misogyny speech, Mr Abbott lost his constituency seat to a former Olympian Zali Steggall who fought the Sydney borough seat on the issue of climate change and won.
The environment seems to be the issue that killed Labor’s hopes too, losing out it’s former heartland of Queensland where it was seen to have been facing both ways on the issue of a coal mine. Jobs on one hand, carbon emissions on the other. It seems that if you try and face both ways at once, voters will just pick another.