- The Coalition is expected to win a total of 78 seats in the Lower House, and will form majority government.
- Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese is expected to run unopposed for leadership of the Labor Party, following Bill Shorten’s resignation from the top job.
- All eyes are on Newspoll following the surprising election result, with almost all commentators surprised by the inaccuracy of polling data released in the lead up to the election.
- The PM’s election pledge to introduce new tax cuts may be delayed until the next financial year.
- The Queensland Government has taken steps to speed up approval of the Adani Carmichael coal mine.
A Morrison Majority
In the wake of Saturday’s shock election result, the Liberal-National Coalition is set to form majority government with 77 seats now secured in the House of Representatives, while Labor has so far secured 65 seats alongside six independent MPs. Of the three seats still in doubt, two are expected to be won by Labor. Counting likewise continues in the Senate, where the Government has secured 34 seats but is expected to pick up one extra. Labor has secured 26 seats and the crossbench will be dominated by a predicted nine Greens senators. Outspoken Tasmanian representative Jacqui Lambie will be returning to her former post in the Senate, while Clive Palmer has failed to secure a seat despite an estimated $80 million campaign spend. The crossbench is also expected to feature two One Nation senators, two from the Centre Alliance and Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi.
With Cabinet yet to be sworn in, media reports predict modest movement on the frontbench with several senior ministers expected to retain their portfolio responsibilities, inducing Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Health Minister Greg Hunt are all likewise expected to remain in their respective roles.
Delays to Government’s tax cuts
The Coalition’s ambitious tax policy is expected to be delayed until the next financial year, after the PM confirmed it is unlikely that the election writs will be returned until the end of June. This will push the next sitting week into late July, preventing the passage of the legislation required to implement the Government’s tax reform package. Despite the setback, the ATO has indicated that retrospectively amended tax assessments could be possible if the laws are passed after 30 June, delivering the tax benefits to Australian families in the short-term. Additionally, the newly-returned Government is facing broader challenges, including articulating a clear third term agenda in the face of a surprise win and delivering the projected Budget surplus in 2020. The promised surplus remains central to the Government’s economic credentials but is expected to be made more difficult with signs of an economic slowdown.
The Labor Leadership
Nominations opened for the Labor leadership on Thursday and will close on Monday morning, following Labor’s loss and Bill Shorten’s decision to step down as party leader. Currently, NSW MP Anthony Albanese is the only declared candidate for the top job, but acknowledged the “magnitude of the challenge” his party faces after the election result. Reports suggest a contest over the deputy leadership will likely be fought by Queensland MP Jim Chalmers, Victoria’s Clare O’Neil and frontbencher Richard Marles. Senator Penny Wong appears likely to become Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, while some early reports have indicated that Kristina Keneally will be considered for the deputy role. Speaking to the press in Adelaide this week, Senator Wong cautioned that the Opposition should “not engage in easy scapegoating of any policy or any individual”, but instead “take time to soberly reflect [and] understand the reasons for this loss”.
Following Labor’s poor election results in Queensland, State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has asked the Coordinator-General to oversee the approvals process for the Adani Carmichael coal mine in a bid to expedite the project. The Premier said that both the Queensland public and her Government were “fed up” with waiting for the relevant departmental approval of the environmental management plans. Labor’s poor polling in the Sunshine State has been partly attributed to the party’s position on the mining project.