Anthony Albanese was an unlikely choice for Australia to elect as PM. During his campaign in 2022 gaffes were front and centre. The press pack descended upon these like hungry wolves in search of blood. If Scott Morrison had not been outed as such a compulsive liar and his Coalition government not soiled in Robodebt and Brittany Higgins’ merde, well, you know the story. Albo waltzed into office on a fresh bouquet of wattle bringing with him the hopes of Aussie progressives. Nearly 10 years of LNP incompetence and corruption had left us short of breath for an optimistic future. The Albanese Prime Ministership so far, however, is losing its shine, it seems.
“In April 2023, 52% of respondents in the Guardian Essential poll approved of Albanese’s performance as prime minister even while inflationary pressure prompted 61% of respondents to say they were either squeezed or struggling to pay for groceries and food. But more than half a year later, Albanese’s approval is net negative in Guardian Essential and 76% of respondents are frustrated with what they see as a lack of action on food and grocery prices, while 77% want more done to reduce power bills.”
Albo Leading The Way On China
Albo’s government has done a host of good things in fixing up things with our largest trading partner China. The Coalition had stuffed up this fragile balance and had us in the frozen wasteland over ideological attacks about blaming them for Covid and sucking up to America’s exclusion of China over security arrangements. Economically, the Albanese/Chalmers policies are treading the cautious RBA approved road to fiscal recovery. We now have the NACC, a federal ICAC, although nobody has seen nor heard of them since their inception. Many cracks were exposed during the global pandemic in terms of those not supported by our institutions and societal safety nets. Albo has sought to facilitate these sections of the community being better looked after. There have been modest wage increases for care workers and the lowest paid Australian workers more generally.
PM Albanese Too Much Talk Is Cheap & Deafening
The phrase ‘Australians have been doing it tough’ has been wheeled out more times than a sausage sizzle tent at a Bunnings store.
Unfortunately, the use of this faux compassion has realised its triteness in the minds of many Australians. The general feeling is that not enough has been done to assist those being smashed by unaffordable rents and high CPI inflation food and energy costs. The ALP government’s desire to be seen as good economic managers has lost them, over time, the empathy of the nation. Meanwhile, there has been a changing of the guard, at least in gender terms, at the head of the RBA. The much maligned Philip Lowe has been replaced by Michelle Bullock – a new bull with tits in Australia’s China shop. Steeply raised interest rates have been smashing the economic hopes of new home owners and the Aussie economy more generally. Only the rampant rates of immigration have kept the country out of recession over the last 12 months. A severe housing crisis has some families living in tents on the fringes of their cities. Rents have sky rocketed due to a shortage of housing stocks. The popularity of things like Air BNB has eroded the long term rental market around the country. The housing crisis is the result of successive governments over decades embracing the neoliberal new world order. Markets will take care of everything we were assured by these Reaganite/Thatcherite economic advisors to governments. Social housing became something of a forgotten concept from a bygone era. Governments stopped doing things and became opinionated observers instead.
Beware PM’s Bearing No Gifts
The electorate blames whoever is in government despite the fact that these things take years to manifest. Voters don’t have the perspicacity or inclination to view things in the long term. Albo has inherited a real can of worms, which is often the way when Labor finally gets into office in this country. Governments cannot so readily bribe the voters with tax cuts and hand outs during times of high inflation. The controversial Stage 3 tax cuts are a clear example of this from the Morrison era. The fact that they have landed upon the Albanese government at such an inopportune time is symptomatic of the lot of Albo as PM.
Another Victim Of An Aboriginal Massacre
The defeat of the Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians is the heaviest albatross to hang around Albo’s neck. I suspect that Albanese thought that the Voice would be carried by the new mood of the Australian people upon his election. The Uluru Statement from the Heart had such a poetic ring to it, pity Australia has such a tin air. The decision by the Nationals and then, by Peter Dutton to oppose the Voice killed off any hopes that this would be so, as no Constitutional referendum has been carried without bipartisan support in the history of this nation. From the progressive point of view, I think that Albo should be applauded for his attempt to move the centuries old failure to recognise our First Nations people in the right direction. On the political front, however, it opened a serious wound where there had not been one in Albanese’s leadership of the nation. The racist history of this former British colony has been white washed over again and again. Right wing conservatives got organised and funded American style to run a successful No campaign against the Voice. By comparison Indigenous Australians were not a united body in favour of the Voice and this was telling.
Albo Could Do More On Climate Change
The Albanese government is getting a lot done with many policy initiatives legislated. Positive changes to worker’s rights have been made law. Saving the Murray River has been reinvigorated after a decade of Coalition backsliding on this important environmental matter. Climate change initiatives have been accelerated and things are moving in the right direction to lower emissions after years of LNP neglect. Australians are faced with a challenge on this to realise the urgency and stick to it. Populist LNP campaigns readily appeal to short sighted back pocket concerns over the global commitment required. Regional Australia needs to stop sticking its head in the sand and grow up on this existential issue facing all Australians. We are all fast running out of time to do anything about global warming and the disasters coming.
Albo needs to wake up to the reality of what his government faces across the aisles in parliament. Dutton and his mob are not going to do him any favours. They have voted against every initiative proposed by the Labor government. Together with the rabid Murdoch press they have fear mongered over Hamas in Israel and banging anti-China war drums. Hysterical alarmism over refugees released from indefinite detention who having served prison sentences for crimes committed were ordered free by the High Court of Australia. Dutton has sought to bully Albanese over all these storms in tea cups. Sky News Australia, the Fox News of Oz, is a totally biased mouthpiece for right wing demagoguery. The media landscape in Australia is dominated by conservative corporate interests. The ABC has been emasculated by a decade of LNP bullying. There is no progressive media network in Australia. Radio, newspapers, and TV all sing from the same song sheet. Protecting property is paramount and everything else is seen in relation to this overarching concern. Indigenous youth crime is a problem but no solutions excepting tougher penalties are proposed. The fact that these kids have nothing to do and have been neglected by governments and their white communities is hardly ever raised. The Voice may have given a voice to this and something may have got done about it – but it was defeated by racism and a ‘do nothing’ ethos. Albo is going to have to toughen up, as the people want to see him fight for what he believes in. At the moment he and his government look weak. He needs to take a leaf out of Paul Keating’s playbook. Every nation wants a bit of a hero every now and then. Standing up to bullies like Dutton would inject some much needed punch into his leadership. Consensus is hard to do if the other side refuses to play ball with you. 2024 needs a new more steely approach.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.