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The opposition Labor Party won Australia’s federal election over the weekend, ending nine years of conservative rule by the Liberal-National coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Nikkei Asia reported.
Preliminary results showed that Labor secured 72 seats in the lower house of parliament, while the Liberal-National coalition won 54. The final results are expected late Monday. Meanwhile, it’s unclear if Labor will win the 76 seats needed to form a majority government.
Regardless, Labor leader Anthony Albanese is poised to become Australia’s next prime minister. His party has pledged to deliver tax relief to more than nine million Australians through cuts that would benefit anyone earning more than $31,000 per year.
It has also vowed to build tens of thousands of new social and affordable housing units over five years. Albanese also tried to appeal to women by pledging to close the gender pay gap and improve their career options.
Morrison, meanwhile, conceded the elections and congratulated Albanese.
Analysts noted how the coalition’s loss followed eroding support for Morrison over his poor handling of national crises and criticism of his leadership qualities. Morrison had especially come under fire for taking a vacation during the 2019 wildfires and vaccine delays during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, smaller parties and independent candidates performed strongly – projected to win about 11 seats – detracting from the overall support for the major parties.
Among the many challenges Albanese will face is China’s increasing influence in the Pacific region: Labor intends to build a defense school to train Pacific island security forces, as well as to enhance South Pacific foreign aid by nearly $370 million over the next four years.
The Liberal-National coalition had tried to paint Labor as China’s ally during the election campaign. Albanese’s party, however, criticized Morrison for failing to prevent a recent security deal between China and the Solomon Islands.