Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Trumpian Wonder Down Under

Australia's conservative Liberal party coalition has won national elections Saturday despite all the polls pointing towards a Labor party sweep, and PM Kevin Morrison will keep his office by running on the Trump platform: tax cuts for the rich, forget climate change, and it's all immigrants' fault.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison led his conservative government to a surprise victory in Australia’s election, seeing off a challenge from the left-leaning Labor opposition with his pledge to safeguard the slowing economy.

“I have always believed in miracles,” Morrison, 51, told cheering supporters in Sydney, flanked by his wife and two daughters. “Tonight we’ve been delivered another one.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten, 52, earlier phoned Morrison to concede defeat, saying it was clear he could not form government even as millions of votes remained uncounted. He wished Morrison “good fortune and good courage in the service of our great nation” and said he would step down as opposition leader.

With 70% of the vote counted, the Liberal-National coalition is expected to win 74 seats in the 151-member lower house, with Labor on 65, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. The broadcaster said it remained unclear whether the coalition would gain the 76 seats needed to form a majority.

It is a remarkable win for the conservative government, which has been plagued by factional infighting during its six years in office that hobbled its ability to craft policy. Morrison, who took the helm in August and is the Liberals’ third leader in four years, spent much of the campaign relentlessly attacking Labor’s detailed policy platform that included boosting the minimum wage and taking tougher action against climate change.
He urged voters not to risk a change of government just when the economy -- in its 28th year of uninterrupted growth -- appears to be running out of steam.

“The economic story, the economic message, the economic choice was what differentiated the parties at this election,’’ Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

Morrison faces a drawn-out battle to legislate planned income tax cuts that could provide much-needed fiscal stimulus for the economy. His ability to do so will hinge on the makeup of the Senate, where populists and independents could hold the balance of power. Vote counting for the upper house will likely continue for days.

Morrison must also navigate the intensifying trade war between the U.S., Australia’s most important ally, and China, its biggest trading partner. The government must shore up ties with Beijing, which have been strained since the coalition last year introduced laws aimed at ending Chinese interference in national affairs, and barred telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. from participating in its 5G network on security grounds.

Morrison closed down Labor’s lead during the five-week campaign, and a Newspoll published Saturday put the opposition just three points ahead. With the contest so tight, it was vital for both parties to hold or pick up seats held by a thin margin. 

And it was rural voters out in Queensland and Tasmania who won it for the conservatives.  If there seems like there's a lot of similarities to Clinton vs Trump in 2016, that's because there is, and Australia's Trump has won.  Despite deadly wildfires and record summer heat in the country last year, voters turned against climate change and wage increases in order to stop those people and keep Australia for...well, certainly not its aboriginal population, that's for damn sure.

The Trumpification of Alerica's allies continues.

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