Holidays New Year's Opinion

Expect more Aussie upheaval in the new year

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, from his official Facebook page.

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA – As 2018 draws to a close, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the year that has been. Specifically, the year in Australian Federal politics, because oh boy, what a year it has been.
This year saw the continuation of one of the oddest crises to ever hit the Federal Parliament. It began in mid-2017, and continued into 2018. There is a little known section in the Australian Constitution, Section 44, that challenged the eligibility of dozens of members of parliament across the political divide.
Section 44 states that anyone with dual citizenship, no matter whether they knew or not, cannot be members of Federal Parliament.
At last count, 14 parliamentarians, either lower house members or senators, have been disqualified because of this tiny section. The lower house members had to renounce their foreign citizenship and then go to a byelection in order to be able to sit in Parliament again.
The upper house members lost their seats to whoever was next on the list in terms of most votes obtained. If they want to get back into Parliament they have to contest the next election.
As I reported a few months ago, we got a new prime minister, Scott Morrison, in 2018. Not because of an election loss, but because the Liberal Party of Australia was not happy with the job their leader was doing. I won’t elaborate on it too much, but I would like to point out that the leadership change to Malcolm Turnbull has not really done much to help the Coalition Government’s position.
They have not improved in the polls and many are predicting a landslide against them in the upcoming election, which is in May 2019. People are growing wary of their inaction on climate change and their harsh stance on refugees.
There are a few recent events that are a sign that even members in safe seats should be worried. The first was the result in the byelection which was triggered by the resignation of the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after he was deposed.
Turnbull’s seat, Wentworth – which is in the suburbs of Sydney – was considered a very safe Liberal seat before the byelection. But it was won quite comfortably by an independent candidate.
The second is a grassroots campaign gaining momentum trying to oust the longtime member of neighbouring Warringah. Local member Tony Abbott has been the representative for almost 25 years and appears very resistant to change and progress.
As Prime Minister from 2013-2015, Abbott brought back offshore detention for refugees, was against same sex marriage and is a big proponent of coal. His reputation would have taken a hit after his role in ousting Turnbull. Some residents of Warringah have decided enough is enough, and are working on a campaign to push the message that it’s time for Abbott to be voted out.
What will 2019 bring? A whole lot more drama, I suspect. With an election coming, do not be surprised if that brings out the worst in the two major parties.
It started to seep out towards the end of the 2018 parliamentary year, so don’t be shocked if it reappears in the new year.
Alyce Collett is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

Leave a Comment