The World Today for May 20, 2022

NEED TO KNOW

The New Guard

AUSTRALIA

Australia is experiencing its most raucous federal elections in years as outsiders seemed poised to disrupt the placid pace of leaders in Canberra after polls close on May 21.

Voters in North Sydney, a wealthy, multicultural district of the continent-country’s largest city, usually cast ballots for the center-right Liberal-National Coalition of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. But independent candidates under a teal color movement stressing “climate action, integrity in politics and gender representation” are giving the governing party a run for its money in the area, the BBC reported.

“Bell teals for big parties in Australia’s election,” was the “bell tolls”-alluding headline in an analysis from the Australia-based Lowy Institute, a think tank. The analyst noted how the now opposition Labor Party is also on track to defeating the Coalition, too.

Billionaires Simon Holmes à Court, a mining heir, and Clive Palmer, a mining magnate and one of Australia’s richest individuals, are bankrolling the outsider candidates. The former is supporting folks interested in climate change while the latter has been tapping into a general frustration with how the government handled Covid-19, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

As Sky News added, Labor might need to negotiate with some independent candidates if its leaders want to form a government for the first time in a decade. The possibility of a hung parliament, where nobody can form a new government, would keep Morrison in charge but precipitate an intense period of politicking in the legislature, University of Sydney Constitutional Law Professor Anne Twomey explained in the Conversation.

The campaign has been charged. Recently, Morrison debated his rival, Labor leader Anthony Albanese, wrote Yahoo News Australia. Albanese argued that workers needed higher wages, while Morrison dodged a direct question from the moderator asking how much of a pay raise Australians deserve.

“The idea that those heroes of the pandemic, those low-wage workers, people on the minimum wage, they are cleaners, they’re people working in the care sector, they’re people who work in retail, they are people who helped get us through the pandemic,” Albanese argued. “They deserve more than our thanks.”

Among voters, there has been a growing sense that the current government doesn’t represent their interests. For example, The First Dog on the Moon cartoonist at the Guardian lampooned the sense of secrecy in Australian politics, noting that officials also routinely shelved government reports when they preferred their findings to remain shrouded in ignorance.

Still, the future of Australian democracy is also arguably at stake. As the New York Times reported, Australian political parties have hidden $1 billion in income even as voters’ faith in their governing institutions has been on a steady decline.

It looks as if the newcomers will have their chance to try to make things right.

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