Liberals’ rejection of so many seats gives the Albanians the gift of time. He doesn’t seem the least bit concerned by the possible rise of Peter Dutton as opposition leader – someone he respects, but someone whose political personality is solid for many voters. As a right-wing crusader, Dutton may be the leader the Liberals need to hold the show together, but not the leader they’ll want a few years from now when they try to reclaim middle ground in Australian politics. Will try this. Their biggest advantage is their base in Queensland, where Labor has struggled hard.
The Citizens kept their 16 seats, but the Liberals are making a very slow return to power until they miraculously win back their blue-ribbon territory in Sydney and Melbourne.
Independent MPs such as Helen Haines and Zali Stegel show how to hold on to the former Liberal seat for years after the first victory; Newcomers like Monique Ryan and Allegra Spender will probably repeat the pattern. The success of independents provides stability to Labor.
The toughest talks for the Albanians are just getting started, with Greens leader Adam Bandt. No party leader has a bloc that could join conservatives to scuttle the Labor agenda or bring a no-confidence motion in the Albanians and their government. Only a mysterious coalition of liberals, citizens, independents and Greens could do that.
Bandt will shape this term of parliament with a blocked share of 12 Greens in the Senate. He wants to scrap new coal and gas projects, which the new government is unlikely to deliver. But is he backing down on his old call to completely eliminate coal and gas? So far, Albanese thinks it can live up to its election promises, including its 43 percent target of cutting emissions by 2030.
One Labor insider, looking at the election result, puts it this way: “Show me how they can prevent Labor getting a second term.” On any reading, it’s very hard to show.
New leaders make mistakes. New governments may lose their victories. The Albanese is very confident that if he remains steadfast he can seize power.