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The cities strike back

  • 24 May 2022
Governments lose elections, but Oppositions still must demonstrate that they are a capable alternative. Both the Morrison Coalition government and the Albanese Labor Opposition played their part last Saturday. There were many sub-plots in the pattern of voting, but this election was primarily lost and won in the four biggest mainland cities. 

While the Coalition led by Scott Morrison was messing around with misplaced scare campaigns about religious discrimination and gender identity it was deaf to the issues about integrity in government, cost of living, equality for women and action on climate change raised by the teal Independents, the Greens and Labor. These latter concerns were the ones which resonated most strongly with the community. 

The focus of the Prime Minister condemned to extinction his own urban colleagues, largely party moderates, by pandering to his rural Coalition partner, the Nationals, on climate change and other issues. Effectively the theme ‘A Vote for Josh Frydenberg is a vote for Barnaby Joyce’ resonated across metropolitan Australia. That is not, however, to excuse the Liberals themselves. Morrison bargained that the Liberals would benefit from his focus in the suburbs, but that proved to be mistaken. There was no benefit from his misplaced priorities. 

The Nationals manipulated the Liberals by imposing its anti-climate action stance on the Morrison government, and ultimately denied themselves a continuing place in government. Joyce also denied any responsibility for the loss because the Nationals held their seats. He showed no empathy for the lost Liberals. ‘The Liberals fight Liberal battles and the Nationals fight Nationals battles’. But he was mistaken in his complacent view that Labor could not win without the regions. That is exactly what has happened. 

Most attention has been given to the outstanding feat of the six female teal independents who built on the foundation laid by Cathy McGowan, Helen Haines, Zali Steggall and Rebekha Sharkie to cut a swathe through safe Liberal seats. This outcome transforms the Parliament and has long term consequences for gender equality and for the party system. 


'Labor is back in office with a new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, who is a break from the Whitlam-Hawke-Rudd Labor leadership model. His lower personal profile may turn out to suit the times if he can show he is a good listener, a genuine collaborator and a consensus-builder.'   

Equally important has been the breakthrough by the Greens in Brisbane and the further strengthening of their role in the Senate because