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Australia has elected a pro-republic prime minister, raising fears the country will look to remove the Queen as its head of state.
Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, 59, won a crushing victory over prime minister Scott Morrison’s Liberals at the weekend, leaving royal supporters anxiously wondering what it meant for the nation’s ties with the monarchy.
The centre-Left Labor Party’s manifesto does not include plans for a referendum, but anti-monarchy organisation Republic claimed yesterday ‘a republic will happen’ as a result of Mr Albanese’s election.
On its official Twitter account, the group said: ‘Excellent to see pro-republic Anthony Albanese becoming Australia’s PM. Won’t be a referendum just yet as they’re rightly committed to first recognising Aboriginal people as the original Australians in the constitution. But a republic will happen.’
The centre-Left Labor Party’s manifesto does not include plans for a referendum, but anti-monarchy organisation Republic claimed yesterday ‘a republic will happen’ as a result of Mr Albanese’s election
The idea of setting up a republic was tested in Australia in 1999 when former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull led a failed campaign during a national referendum, which was lost after almost 55 per cent of voters chose to keep the ties with the monarchy.
Mr Albanese’s victory has stirred up discussions among supporters who have looked back on his pro-republic comments and asked whether the monarchy should be more important than the cost of living, homelessness and medical care.
More than 20 years ago, Mr Albanese told a republic referendum committee: ‘I urge people to support the republic and support it now because it is inevitable – everyone accepts that. We should do it now so we can do it with pride.’
In 2016, Mr Albanese – ‘Albo’ to almost everyone – raised the subject again, inviting people who agreed with him to share his views on social media. But even some of the Labor faithful were not inspired, with one writer on social media saying it wasn’t the right time: ‘You don’t get my vote on this. Have a good look at countries that had a monarch and got rid of them. They now have a president or a dictator.’
Another writer commented: ‘Sorry Albo, everyone does not accept that… I believe the money spent on becoming a republic would be better used to house the thousands made homeless by fire and flood and also those made homeless by their life choices before all else.’
While Australia faces a long wait before the issue of a republic emerges officially, political leaders in Belize and Jamaica have recently suggested that steps would be taken towards breaking their links to the Crown.
Mr Albanese’s victory has stirred up discussions among supporters who have looked back on his pro-republic comments and asked whether the monarchy should be more important than the cost of living, homelessness and medical care
Australia’s new leader preferred to concentrate on another major issue among voters last night, vowing to introduce a big shift in climate policy.
Climate change is a key concern for Australians after three years of record-breaking bushfires and floods, and Mr Albanese said that under his party, the country could become a renewable energy superpower.
‘We have an opportunity now to end the climate wars in Australia,’ he said.
‘Australian businesses know that good action on climate change is good for jobs and good for our economy, and I want to join the global effort.’
Mr Albanese promised to adopt more ambitious emissions targets, but he has so far refused calls to phase out coal use or to block the opening of new coal mines.
One of Australia’s longest-serving politicians, Mr Albanese served briefly as deputy prime minister to Kevin Rudd in 2013.
Rise of Left, and blunders Down Under that Boris must learn from
Daniel Johnson for the Daily Mail
Back in December 2020, Brexit talks were stalling and an ‘Australia-style’ no-deal between Britain and the EU loomed. That was when Boris Johnson was overheard whistling the Aussie ballad Waltzing Matilda in the corridors of No 10.
In the event, of course, a deal was signed – and the Prime Minister focused his attentions elsewhere on the international stage.
But now he urgently needs to look again Down Under, where a political earthquake has just taken place.
His rough counterpart, Scott Morrison – leader of the centre-Right Liberal-National government – has been turfed out of office by a rag-tag alliance of woke Lefties, Green eco-warriors and latte-sipping independents, ending a ten-year hegemony.
And the Australian situation is far from unique. It is simply the latest example of a tide that has swept centre-Left parties into power in Germany, Spain and Canada.
This, I’m afraid, is the fate that awaits Boris and the Tories if they fail to get a grip on the mounting crises besetting this country – and tackle the Opposition.
At the next election, it seems improbable that Starmer could overturn the Tories’ 80-seat majority single-handedly. More realistic is that the Conservatives face a sinister coalition of Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and Green candidates striking grubby deals to turf them out in individual seats
The parallels between the Australian Liberals and the British Conservatives are not perfect, but they are striking.
Morrison, like Boris, was relentlessly targeted by a hostile and personal media campaign.
Both his own Liberals and Boris’s Tories have been damaged in the short term by the rising cost of living, and in the longer term by the erosion of traditional support in their suburban and rural heartlands.
Greens and independents lured metropolitan voters away from the Liberals in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In the Aussie equivalent of ‘Blue Wall’ seats, the centre-Right haemorrhaged support, while in the ‘Red Wall’ areas they lost ground to populists.
The Australian Leftists, too, are instructive in a British context.
Australia’s new Labor PM, Anthony ‘Albo’ Albanese, comes across as a reassuring, lawyerly moderate – a bit like our own Sir Keir Starmer, who like him is 59.
And like Starmer, Albanese struggled to beat his opponent on his own. When the Mail went to press last night, Albanese was still one seat short of an overall majority.
At the next election, it seems improbable that Starmer could overturn the Tories’ 80-seat majority single-handedly. More realistic is that the Conservatives face a sinister coalition of Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and Green candidates striking grubby deals to turf them out in individual seats.
Next month, the Tories will be tested in by-elections in Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield. Speculation has been mounting that Labour and the Lib Dems will agree a pact: for Labour to ‘step back’ in the Devon seat and the Lib Dems to give Labour a clear run in West Yorkshire. Such moves, repeated across the country in a general election, could prove fatal to the Tories.
Now, it’s important not to overstate the similarities between British and Australian politics. Having met three former Aussie prime ministers – John Howard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – I can safely say that Scott Morrison is less charismatic than any of them.
He and Boris are friends and allies, but very different. Unlike the man David Cameron once called a ‘greased piglet’, Morrison is bad at wriggling out of scrapes.
Known as ‘the bulldozer’, Morrison also has a tin ear for public opinion, unlike Boris who is usually quick to read the room. On climate change, Morrison has defended Australia’s mining industry – while here the Tories jostle to out-green even their Left-wing opponents.
But Boris does need to learn some crucial lessons from the Australian debacle. He urgently needs a principled, coherent plan to tackle the cost of living.
Inflation is running at 9 per cent here and our economy is heading for a recession. Instead of putting up national insurance and dragging millions into higher tax brackets, Chancellor Rishi Sunak should be slashing taxes.
With his big-spending, big-government policies, Boris has tried to please the Red Wall voters who lent him their support at the last election. But ‘levelling up’ doesn’t mean chucking limitless sums of taxpayers’ money at every problem. Australia shows us that a Left-wing leader masquerading as a moderate can always outbid any Conservative in spending promises – something Boris should have learnt long ago.
The PM needs to rediscover his Thatcherite instincts. Unless he can get a grip on the economy and reassure the country that he knows where he is leading us, he will end up, like his mate Mr Morrison, taking a long walkabout in the political outback.
Daniel Johnson is the editor of TheArticle.com