Up to one third of Australia’s population of 26m claim a direct or historical link to Ireland and it is natural, then, that Australian elections are followed with some interest here.
And the lesson in Oz, just as it was in Germany last autumn, is that long-standing coalitions run out of road, to be replaced by other coalitions. For Scott Morrison, the self-styled “bulldozer”, the combinations of unpopular Covid-19 management and a series of ecological disasters, coupled with an abrasive style that spoke to an un-Australian sense of entitlement, have tipped him out of office.
And the campaign gave us one more interesting addition to the political lexicon: “The Teal Independents.” A group, mainly eco-conscious women, who targeted affluent suburbs in Australia’s big cities adopting as their campaign livery a combination of green and Liberal Party blue. Hence the colourful sobriquet.
Each candidate is funded and endorsed by ‘Climate 200’, an activist group established by the millionaire businessman Simon Holmes à Court. Other campaign points have been gender equality and anti-corruption issues.
Anthony Albanese, leader of the Labor Party, the fourth to govern since the Second World War, has made climate change and international relations his priority.
Former prime minister Morrison stepped down as Liberal leader with an address delivered at his church.
“God calls us, if you are a prime minister, pastor, running a business, teaching in schools, working in the police force. It doesn’t matter. We are called to trust and obey. That is the life of faithfulness. We live our faith each and every day.”
For the “Lucky Country” it is a chance to reset. As all incumbent governments know, that can sometimes take time.