This win for Anthony Albanese is the most transformative election you can imagine

Home Australia News This win for Anthony Albanese is the most transformative election you can imagine
This win for Anthony Albanese is the most transformative election you can imagine

There may have been lots of swirling currents but the results of the federal election overwhelmingly showed that 2022 was, finally, the climate election.

But it was also an election that profoundly changed the political geography and demography of Australia. And an election that rejected smarty-pants political tactics and messaging, and a call for our political leaders to take the job of government seriously.

It wasn’t just that the independent candidates running on climate change made spectacular gains. There was also a swing to the Greens — and at least one more seat in parliament for them, if not more.

Even in the so-called “coal” seats like Hunter and Flynn, there was not a huge swing, as had been predicted, towards the Coalition because of fear of loss of coal jobs but in fact towards Labor.

Decimated and shattered

It is the end of the Morrison government in an election which — while it might not have resulted in a landslide for the opposition — has seen the conservative party decimated and shattered.

It has seen Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unseated from the seat of the Liberal founder Sir Robert Menzies, and a rout in the wealthiest electorates of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

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Scott Morrison concedes defeat in federal election

Scott Morrison’s close ally, Special Minister of State Ben Morton, also lost his seat of Tangney in Perth after suffering a swing of almost 12 per cent against him.

Formerly safe Coalition seats are now marginal seats and there have been inroads made in places Labor has never gone before.

There was a swing of more than 6 per cent against Scott Morrison in his own seat and seats that the Coalition targeted — like Blair in Queensland and Lingiari — also stubbornly resisted the PM’s visits and overtures and swung further to Labor.

The demographics of the seats the decimated Liberal Party now represents are very different groups of people to the ones it represented a decade ago.

The balance of power of the Coalition will also change. The Nationals have held all their seats but the Liberals have lost so many.

The Coalition will be a very, very small opposition grouping, while the crossbench is likely to be around twice as large as it was in the last parliament.

The downfall of the government — and the destruction of so much of what has been the old Liberal Party — and the story of the independents also make the story of the night — that we have a new Labor government — seem almost a postscript when of course it is the most important story for the future.

It seemed to remain a possibility that Labor might be able to form a government in its own right on Saturday night — but whether it can or not, the fact it is set for majority or minority government after having won on just 30 per cent of the primary vote says much about the way Australian politics has profoundly changed at this election.

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Anthony Albanese claims victory in federal election

A coalition builder

One of the most important things to note about the nature of the new Labor government is that it will be an Albanese Labor government — it was Albanese, as leader of the house, who more than any other person made the last Labor minority government work.

He is a superb negotiator and coalition builder: skills that will be crucial whatever the final numbers. And that sets the culture for his government. His Leader of the House, Tony Burke, is an equally wily negotiator.

There are multiple options for Labor if it wishes to negotiate on particular issues and, significantly, a path through roadblocks that have held Australia back for a decade on climate change.

A proper integrity commission looms, which could help re-establish some sense of probity in government and trust from voters. And an Indigenous Voice to Parliament may also finally make progress.

It’s the most transformative election you can imagine, both in the country and in the way we govern ourselves.

Laura Tingle is 7.30’s chief political correspondent.

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