Australian politics has experienced a seismic and profound shift.
Scott Morrison’s prime ministership is over on the back of a female independent climate revolt. It’s the women, stupid.
The Liberal Party has been smashed by a sea of teal women.
Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham told the ABC that gender was “clearly a factor” in the election result. Former Liberal minister Julie Bishop said independents appealed to people who felt that the moderates within the Liberal Party were not being heard in a government that was led by “Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce”.
The Coalition’s own tracking polls said Morrison was unpopular with women. In fact, it was lethal.
In the chase for Labor’s blue collar heartland, Morrison failed to connect with women.
In the end, Morrison couldn’t deliver the government a second miracle and lost his party some of its historical heartland on the back of a climate, integrity and independent insurgency.
His 11th-hour epiphany that he is a bit of a “bulldozer”, and then his promise to remain a bulldozer but switch gears just wasn’t enough to convince Australians he deserved another three years, or that he was capable of sufficient personality and policy change on key issues like climate change.
A generation of Liberal politicians have been lost and the recriminations will be wide and deep.
A new reality for both parties
After six weeks of campaigning, and three years of trouble-plagued governing, voters have sent one giant message to the major parties: do not take them for granted. This election is the shock the major parties must learn from or their power will continue to diminish.
Labor was able to successfully turn this election into a referendum on Morrison’s character and three-year legacy but not yet enough to win a clear majority — that is the reality the party must grapple with.
Anthony Albanese is the architect of this Labor strategy and has weathered criticism for being too timid over his term as Opposition Leader. Yet, his strategy of making the government the issue and paint it as tired and out of ideas has had some impact — he will become Australia’s next prime minister.
It was just three years ago that Morrison became the Coalition’s biggest asset, winning the so-called unwinnable election and cutting through to pull off an unlikely win.
Three years later, after holidaying in Hawaii during the nation’s biggest existential bushfire crisis, failing to read the room to race to obtain vaccines or enough RATs, as well as being depicted as a man consistently “missing” in action and unprepared to take responsibility, voters have decided to switch camps.
They have done that despite expressing a broad lack of enthusiasm for Labor — the primary vote tells the story there — but the baseball bats have been out for the Liberals where it matters most.
Labor inherits a tough job
The Coalition entered this election from behind but with one central goal — to paint Albanese as too risky, too economically illiterate, and therefore unelectable.
They failed, despite making some inroads on the back of Albanese’s own-goals.
Albanese’s focus on cost of living and wages has been a success, as has the negative zeroing-in on the public’s anger at Morrison.
This election is the first time since 2007 that Australians have been able to deliver a verdict on the full term of a prime minister and they have not wasted the opportunity, although the next parliament will have the biggest crossbench in decades.
The “teal wave” has swamped the Liberals, and Morrison’s chase for working-class suburban seats in Labor heartland wasn’t enough to counter it.
Now Labor inherits the cost-of-living crisis they focused on to push this government out of office. They face an inflation conundrum, and interest rates set to rise as workers continue to languish.
The recriminations inside the Coalition will begin as the moderates seek to flex their dwindling muscle to make the case that the Prime Minister’s strategy hurt them in their heartland.
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