Australia’s Disorganized Political Cycle Continues


Mark Graham/AFP/Getty Images

Politics in Australia are dysfunctional, to say the least. A prime minister hasn’t lasted a full three-year term in a decade; as of August 24, 2018 Scott Morrison is the fifth prime minister in five years. But before diving into the chaos of it all, we’ll give you a brief rundown of how the politics works in Australia.

The Australian government is a parliamentary system, with a legislative body called the Parliament in charge of electing the Prime Minister. A nominee must receive at least 50% of a vote to become Prime Minister. A sitting Prime Minister or a majority of Parliament can call for a leadership spill, which basically puts the Prime Minister seat up for grabs.

In August of 2018, the Prime Minister at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, called for a leadership spill to gauge how stable his political party was. He defeated his challenger, Peter Dutton, 48 to 35 votes. Later that month, another leadership spill was called without Turnbull’s consent; Turnbull promised that if it passed he would resign. And pass it did, so Australia found itself once again without a Prime Minister. An election, the fifth in five years, began between Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, and Julie Bishop; after two rounds of voting, a winner appeared. Scott Morrison would be the new Prime Minister of Australia, the new leader of the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party is Australia’s equivalent to America’s Republican Party. The platform emphasizes freedom over equality, promoting little interference and regulation by the government. It strongly advocates economic liberalism, opposing ideas of socialism and communism. Morrison, personally, is quite socially conservative. He is an adamant opponent of same-sex marriage, often showing his Evangelical Christian colors in politics. He has also led the charge on Australia’s strict immigration policy, overseeing offshore detention facilities and processing asylum seekers.

His predecessor, Turnbull, also represented the Liberal Party, but leaned much more conservatively. Being economically liberal and socially conservative, Morrison appeased Australia’s right wing of the Liberal Party more than his opponent, Dutton. There are hopes that Morrison will be able to unite the party. In one of the most politically chaotic times in Australian politics, it is a good sign that Morrison has been able to emerge a victor without blood on his hands. He was neither responsible for tearing down the prime ministership nor pushing the leadership spill, proving to the public that perhaps he will end the string of rotating leaders.

Australia’s political scene is unpredictable. There is no saying what the future holds; however, Morrison will potentially be able to hold onto his position and get the government back on track. Perhaps we will be back with another news story on the newest Prime Minister soon, but for Australia’s sake we hope not. Only time will tell.