This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning till the end of the election. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
As he began his victory speech shortly before midnight on Saturday, Anthony Albanese gave the nation a hopeful glimpse of what he promises to do for Australian politics. In a boisterous room simmering with excitement and more than a little relief, the incoming Prime Minister asked the crowd to quieten. When the rowdy gathering continued to ignore his pleas for silence, Albanese's face suddenly took on the stern countenance of a principal at a school assembly.
"Can we have a bit of order?" he demanded. Anger flashed across his face. His jaw clenched. His eyebrows arched. It seemed possible he might dive into the crowd, grab one of the offenders by the ear and march them off for an hour's detention.
"I intend to run an orderly government and it starts here," Albanese barked. "So behave."
The Labor leader repeatedly pledged on the weekend that "I want to change the way politics works in this country." The same sentiment was also being expressed in voting booths around Australia. But the people didn't just speak in this election. They shouted and hollered, demanding greater integrity in politics, greater action on climate change and greater equality for women and minority groups. They would no longer be taken for granted, they said. It may be a long time before anyone dares call them quiet Australians again.
Last night Labor appeared to set for a majority of at least 76 seats in only the fourth time it has won government from opposition since WWII. But just as momentous was the radical upheaval in the political landscape. Scott Morrison's Liberal party was massacred across the mainland by an emerging army of Teal independents and The Greens that effectively ended Australia's traditional two-party system and could lead to as many as 16 MPs sitting on the crossbench.
The shakeup of the old political world wasn't just restricted to the House of Representatives, with the Senate projected to consist of at least 57 per cent women members.
As Labor's leadership group is sworn in this morning by the Governor-General, a routed Liberal party will begin sifting through the carnage that almost wiped it out in greater Melbourne and Perth, weakened it severely in Queensland and left it leaderless after Scott Morrison's decision to step down in the wake of a national swing against it of close to 4.5 per cent.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, long touted as Morrison's successor, lost his Kooyong seat to Teal independent Monique Ryan. Picking up the shards of what remains may be left to Peter Dutton, which means the Liberals face even more bloodletting. Do they try to win back traditional conservative city voters by embracing a climate change philosophy that will put them in direct conflict with the Nationals? Or will Dutton, a hardliner you can easily picture trimming his roses with a chainsaw, swing them further to the right?
What the election really taught us - and the evidence is clear in the slumping primary vote for both major parties - is how out of touch with ordinary Australia the political class has become. Both sides, particularly the Liberals, seemed stunned by the electorate's disgust with their addiction to pork barrelling, superficial policies and glib acknowledgement about issues the public regarded as most important.
But why the surprised looks? Repeated surveys and polls - not to mention the deluge of emails from Echidna readers - made it perfectly clear in recent weeks that the hoary old chestnut of hip pocket politics no longer cuts it with a smarter and more sophisticated electorate.
People demanded progress on climate change. They insisted that politics be cleaned up. And not only were they prepared to shout it out loudly - they also put it in writing in booths across the country.
Anthony Albanese along with the rest of the political class has been put on notice. It's time you all behaved.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you believe politics will change for the better because of the election result? Who should lead the Liberals? And are the Teals for real? We'll be with you for the rest of this week to sort through the charred remains of the election and to examine what comes next. So have your say. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
THEY SAID IT: "I want to change politics. I want to change the way it operates." - Anthony Albanese.
"Do not rejoice over me, enemy of mine. Though I fall, I will rise. Though I live in darkness, the Lord is a light for me." - Scott Morrison reading from Micah 7:8 in the Bible during a church meeting yesterday.
"We don't want to read the entrails until we've gutted the chicken." - Senator Jane Hume, outgoing Liberal Minister for Superannuation and Financial Services.
"Scott Morrison never had a vision, never had a conviction. [Australians] didn't want three more years of the shit-throwing that was going on. The only thing we did were those tax cuts - and even then it was arguable whether giving them to people on over $180,000 was a good thing." - Gerard Rennick, Liberal Senator.
"McDonald's can't sell health food and the LNP can't sell socialism. We forgot the forgotten people." - Matt Canavan, Nationals Queensland Senator.
"It's really strange - in attacking the Liberal candidates they (independents) have removed our Indigenous Affairs Minister, three openly gay people and one Asian member of parliament. Is that what they want to achieve? Is that success for them, is it? The moderate side of the party - they've been put to the sword by people who say they're moderates." - Barnaby Joyce, Nationals leader.
"We need to get more women into parliament. That is not only a problem for the Coalition. It is a priority for the other major parties because what you saw ... was also the Labor party vote drop quite substantially." - Josh Frydenberg, outgoing Treasurer, after seemingly losing Kooyong to Teal independent Monique Ryan.
"Australia has not been well served by the culture wars on climate change." - Frydenberg.
"The Liberal party's experiment with the poison of leftism and progressivism must be over." - Alex Antic, South Australian Liberal Senator.
"One thing is for sure, this is a Greenslide." - Greens leader Adam Bandt.
YOU SAID IT: "Will Morrison soar like an eagle once again? Not when Labor has the Teals. Interesting times ahead." - Helen.
"Government spending to tell us how great they are and political ads for election campaigns are obscene and a sad indictment on our politicians and those seeking to buy their favour and concessions. Clearly their priorities are out of whack with community values, good governance, and focus on improving people's lives." - Linda.
"Reading The Echidna has reassured me that there are still intelligent Australians around. Watching and reading the media and Facebook you could be forgiven for thinking they are extinct. Maybe they were only on the endangered list." - Lee.
"When I first heard that Scummo had compared himself to a bulldozer, I asked, "a bull whatter?" Clearly he had mis-spoke! Anyone with the smallest interest in politics knows he meant to say "everyone knows I can be a bit of a bullshitter!" - Tony.
"Aah, how far we have come - backwards. I still remember the jingle from the It's Time campaign in 1972. An uplifting little number with a positive message. Now we are reduced to an annoying negative version of There's A Hole In My Bucket ... I must be getting old and grumpy but I do wish we could have some humanity, vision and inspiring messages again!" - Ross.
"Besides an anti-corruption body, one simple fix to help stop pork barrelling is for everyone to call it what it is - a gross misuse of public funds provided by taxpayers." - Anthony.
"Summer temperatures are nearing 50 degrees in some places with mass dying of native birds and mammals. The fact of climate warming is beyond obvious. In 1788, there were fewer than one million people living and having lived sustainably in Australia for tens of thousands of years. Since then, we have cut down around 50 per cent of our native forests, abused our rivers and increasing salinity is destroying ever larger tracts of fertile land. What are we thinking!" - Dominique.
"What ultimately limits the quality of life of all citizens is the availability of natural resources, living and mineral, per capita. It has been known for decades that it is the enlightened management of the living resources that will determine the future of our grandchildren. Every additional person reduces resources per capita." - Ian.
"Government grants for whatever purpose already go through a rigorous point-score process to determine those which are the most deserving, regardless of being in a safe or unsafe seat. It is only when politicians and ministers start selecting the successful ones that the process is hijacked. Simply remove the political influence. Their job is to govern in the best interests of all, not hand out sweets." - Bob.
"Scott Morrison may consider that 'we are over it' and ready to put the pandemic behind us. Sure, we would like to do just that. Sadly and clearly the pandemic is not through with us. Acting like it is or that we just have to live with it as weddings and other group gatherings turn into super spreaders, is more than stupid. It's irresponsible." - Linda.
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