The recent results of the 2019 Australian Federal election have undoubtedly thrown the country and its political institutions into something of a spin. Instead of delivering the Labor government that many people were expecting, the country has instead decided to bring back the Liberal Coalition government of Scott Morrison for another term. This brings up several questions about the short and long term future of political policy in the country. In this article, we’ll find the answers to some of those questions and explain what they mean for Australians over the coming years.
The Stability of the Government
Australian politics has seen a very high number of Prime Ministers in recent years. It doesn’t take long for either of the big two parties to become tired of its leader and decide that someone else would be a better fit. While Scott Morrison is likely to have bought himself some time thanks to the unexpected victory he achieved, it is expected that the usual sniping and planning behind his back will resume in the coming months. The government has several tricky issues to overcome in the next few years, and any one of them could cause the current leader to come a cropper.
While the coalition has managed to secure a majority, it is not a very large one, and it remains at risk from rebellions from within its own party. This means that the government will have to move carefully when it comes to policymaking decisions.
Australia’s economy has been fuelled by the mother and father of all natural resource booms over the past decade or so. This allowed it to avoid the problems which many western nations faced during the recession of the later 2000s, up to the early 2010s, thanks to high demand for Australia’s natural resources from the emerging economies of East Asia. However, if the current trade war between China and the United States leads to a fall in the price for these resources, the Australian economy is very exposed to the potential impact.
Australia’s tax base is also very dependent on these natural resources, particularly when it comes to providing services in rural areas where the mining industry operates. Any change in demand for the goods which these sectors produce could cause severe problems in rural Australia.
Many political observers have concluded that the Labor vote was hurt by the party’s firm stance on climate change and the perceived harm which their policies may have done to the natural resources sector. However, the increasingly extreme climate in Australia is of increasing concern to voters, particularly as major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne start to feel the impact of ever-higher temperatures. It is possible that a few more summers of crippling heat and wildfires could tip the balance back in favour of the Labor party. Many analysts have taken the voters’ rejection of Labor’s policies as a sign of a generation-defining statement on climate change, but there is still every chance that a significant shift could be to come.
The unexpected election result is another sign that there won’t be a dull moment over the coming years in Australian politics. The picture remains as fluid as ever, and anyone making a long-term prediction would have to be very brave or foolish.