Australia has a new Prime Minister and a new ruling party. Despite a number of campaign missteps, the Conservative Party lead by Tony Abbott has been swept into office by a landslide. The victory was largely due to dissatisfaction with infighting and instability within the Labor Party than anything else.
Abbott, however, is not for same-sex marriages and once described them as the fashion of the time that would eventually pass.
Abbott vowed to cut taxes and crack down on asylum seekers arriving by boat. Abbott stated that “From today I declare that Australia is under new management and Australia is once more open for business.”
Social issues were not big on the list of campaign issues despite attempts by out-going Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s vow to pass same-sex marriage. Instead, the fact that Labor dumped Rudd in 2010 for Julia Gillard and then saw Rudd return as leader in June 2013 had a lot to do with the dissatisfaction felt by Australians.
Gillard was a highly unpopular Prime Minister. Her views on same-sex marriage coincide with those of incoming-Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Rudd conceded defeat saying that “I know that Labor hearts are heavy across the nation tonight. I gave it my all. But it was not enough to win.”
Abbott’s Liberal-National Party coalition won with about 52.6% of the national vote and would control at least 88 of the 150 seats in the lower House in Parliament. The Senate results will take about a week to finalize. It is the worst showing for the Labor Party since 2004.
The Labor Party had to form a minority government in order to govern and relied upon the Green Party as well as various independent MP’s in order to garner enough votes over the last three years to effectively do anything. Former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke stated that “This was an election that was lost by the government more than one that was won by the opposition.”
Minority governments tend to be inherently unstable. The recent vote on same-sex marriage in Great Britain illustrates that as it came close to destabilizing the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.
Abbott ran on promises to rein in government spending, scrap unpopular carbon taxes and stop refugee boats. He had the backing of Rupert Murdoch. Rudd tried to warn the Australians about the dangers of austerity budgets, but was largely ignored.
Conservatives tend to love austerity budgets despite the fact that they tend to collapse economies.