Much of what happened in the federal election was down to people working out what an appalling person Morrison was, and what a seemingly genuine person Albanese is, with a concomitant swing away from the Liberals to Labor and the Greens. Perhaps even more surprising and fascinating was an ‘if you won’t do something, we’ll do it ourselves’ with a concomitant huge swing in some previously safe Liberal seats to ‘climate independents’ (the Teal Independents). While many will say, ‘but there was a swing against Labor too’, it was only about one eighth of the swing against the Liberals, and I have heard numerous stories of people who have been rusted on Liberal voters but in this election were going to vote Labor for the first time. What seems to have happened is that there was a swing away from what are sometimes referred to as the ‘cartel parties’1 but while perhaps a few percent left these parties, some who left the Liberals jumped to the Labor Party, thus decreasing the swing against the latter.
As Barry Jones (an advisor to Climate200) said: “In 2019 Morrison was not well known, a daggy dad, uninspiring but not threatening. By 2022 he was too well known, a sanctimonious hypocrite, rewarding sycophants, punishing dissenters, secretive, lying, with a tin ear on gender equality, and heavy reliance … on ‘dog whistling’ to attract the votes of religious minorities” and other bigots2. The Coalition now holds its lowest proportion of seats as a share of parliament since the Liberal Party first ran at the 1946 election. In addition, the Coalition obtained the lowest percentage of votes from women in the history of the Liberal Party.
The Labor Party now have a slender majority in the House of Representatives3, and if they decide to go it alone without seriously engaging with the Greens and Teal independents, they will end up going the same way as the Liberal Party. The reason I say this is because of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT); it is the most progressive jurisdiction in the nation and has a Labor-Greens coalition government. The ACT’s progressive nature was demonstrated by its vote for same sex marriage, where the yes vote in the ACT was 74% compared to the Australian average of 62%. The ACT Labor-Greens government has with the help of the Liberal Party, made the latter unelectable; with them having been out of government since 20014.
After the election, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese phoned each of the five returning lower house independents and emphasised that he wanted this to be a different parliament. He wanted standards to be higher. He wanted a better tone.
According to the Independent MP for Indi, Helen Haines, Albanese indicated he had “an ambition to have … a strong and collaborative, respectful relationship with the crossbench, and integrity is at the core of that.”5
If Albanese can do that and the Liberal Party under Dutton continues in the Morrison mode of combative, obstructive, lying, far right, religious stupidity, the Liberal Party will make itself unelectable. However, if Albanese tries to sideline either the Teal Independents, or as is more likely, the Greens, then the Labor Party will end up going the same way as the Liberal Party; into irrelevance. This is because the Greens increased their vote significantly on the basis of the realisation that the dreadful effects of climate change are here now. It is also the main game of the Teal Independents; although many are nominally conservatives they want significant action on climate change. Any action considered to be too weak in reducing emissions by 2030 will demonstrate that like the Liberal Party, the Labor Party are not serious about dealing with climate change.