Australian Labor topples the Conservatives; PM faces early tests

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s center-left opposition party has ousted the Conservative government after nearly a decade in power, and the Prime…

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s center-left opposition party has ousted the Conservative government after nearly a decade in power, with Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese promising further cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in his election victory speech on Saturday. greenhouse gases while facing policy essay

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he quickly conceded defeat despite millions of votes still to be counted because an Australian leader is due to attend a summit in Tokyo on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Indian Minister Narendra Modi.

Albanese, who has described himself as the only candidate with a “non-Anglo-Celtic name” to run for prime minister in the 121 years the office has existed, referred to his own humble upbringing in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown.

“It says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mother who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing in Camperdown, is able to stand before you tonight as Prime Minister of Australia,” Albanese said.

“All parents want more for the next generation than they had. My mother dreamed of a better life for me. And I hope that my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars,” she added.

Albanese will be sworn in as prime minister after his Labor party achieved its first electoral victory since 2007.

Labor promised more financial assistance and a strong social safety net as Australia grapples with the highest inflation since 2001 and rising house prices.

The party also plans to raise minimum wages and, on the foreign policy front, has proposed establishing a Pacific defense school to train neighboring armies in response to a possible Chinese military presence in the Solomon Islands, on the doorstep of Australia.

It also wants to tackle climate change with a more ambitious 43% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

Morrison’s Liberal Party-led coalition was seeking a fourth three-year term. It had the narrowest majority: 76 seats in the 151-member House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government. In Saturday’s early count, the coalition was on course to win 51 seats, Labor 72, 10 were non-aligned lawmakers and 18 were too close to call.

Major parties bled votes from fringe and independent parties, increasing the likelihood of a hung parliament and a minority government.

Australia’s most recent hung parliaments were from 2010-13 and during World War II.

The minority Australian Greens party appeared to have increased its representation from a single seat to three.

The Greens supported a minority Labor government in 2010 and will likely support a Labor administration again if the party fails to win a 76-seat majority.

As well as campaigning against Labour, Morrison’s Conservative Liberals faced a fresh challenge from so-called Teal Independent candidates for re-election of key government lawmakers in party strongholds.

At least four Liberal lawmakers appeared to have lost their seats to independents, including Deputy Liberal Party Leader Josh Frydenberg, who had been considered Morrison’s most likely successor.

“What we’ve accomplished here is extraordinary,” Teal candidate and former foreign correspondent Zoe Daniels said in her victory speech. “Liberal seat safe. Holder of two mandates. Independent,” she added.

Teal independents market themselves as a shade greener than the Liberal Party’s traditional blue color and want stronger government action to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions than is proposed by the government or Labor.

The leader of the government in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, was worried about the big swings towards several teal candidates.

“It is a clear problem that we are losing seats that are core seats, that have defined the Liberal Party for generations,” Birmingham said.

“If we lose those seats, it’s not certain that we will, but there is clearly a big movement against us and there is clearly a big message in it,” Birmingham added.

Due to the pandemic, around half of Australia’s 17 million voters have cast ballots early or requested mail-in ballots, which is likely to slow down the count.

Early voting for travel or work reasons began two weeks ago and the Australian Electoral Commission will continue to collect postal votes for another two weeks.

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