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Australia sticks with status quo

Opinion Piece

A surprise win to Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party in the Australian elections provided a stunning end to the news week — bringing with it some textbook methods of how to win, and how to lose, an election.

Even though the polls were closing, the general belief was that Bill Shorten and the Labor Party would still win — as they had been favoured to do for months. But a massive swing to the Liberals in Queensland and a smaller one in West Australia mean Morrison could potentially form a majority government, depending on final counting, or at least a minority one.

Commentators believe it was fear of job losses and change that was the dominant factor. Labor’s policies of action on climate change and changes to tax loopholes, franking credits and negative gearing made voters nervous, and Morrison was able to attack them as a party that would increase taxes.

The old adage that governments get themselves voted out and an Opposition should slide into power was ignored on this occasion by Labor, with disastrous results.

It came in the week when one of Labor’s greatest politicians Bob Hawke died. The man who won four elections would have known what was needed. He was infinitely more charismatic than the present Labor leader Bill Shorten, who resigned immediately after the defeat.

Back in New Zealand the news delighted National’s leader at the party’s Wellington conference.

Simon Bridges is also looking at the possible formation of a Christian party, led by MP Alfred Ngaro, that has the prospect of getting 4 to 5 percent of the vote and potentially propelling National back into government. While he denied there would be any deal to allow Ngaro to win the safe National seat of Botany, Bridges did describe the potential of a Christian party as alluring. Watch this space.

The Australian win was a tonic for National after a week of watching Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern get even more international recognition as co-host of the Christchurch Call, the Paris meeting seeking to stop the internet being used to promote hate and terrorism.

It is back to the trenches for Ardern and the Government tomorrow as Parliament resumes.