This Australian election marks an all-time high in public contempt for party politicians. Perpetual in-fighting within the ruling Liberal-National coalition, and the decidedly uncharismatic prime ministership of Christian fundamentalist Scott Morrison, has kept Labor in a steady lead in most polls — despite the failure of its leader, Bill Shorten, to ignite the public. His refusal to approve or rule out the controversial Adani coalmine project reflects a desire not to frighten the horses. While some of his economic proposals are more bold they, too, are a mix of the neoliberal directions that the party has been on since the mid-80s, with some concessions to traditional Labor sentiments. It is a reflection of the all-round confusion of political identity that Shorten’s adversary for party leadership, Anthony Albanese, is touted as coming from the left of the party, though he attacks Shorten for being anti-business.
The Greens, too, pose us with difficulties because of a considerable difference between the pragmatic willing-to-do-deals leader Richard Di Natale and the mainstream membership that insist on a more radical direction in the tradition of their much-loved earlier leader, Bob Brown. The Greens have also been hurt by warring between the national organisation and the state organisations that have demanded more control. Nevertheless the Greens, both socially and economically, remain to the left of Labor.
One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, unlike the leaders of many of Europe’s new authoritarian nationalist parties, continues to wrap hardline social policies and neoliberalism together as naturally as fish and chips.
This time ’round there’s an unprecedented number of independent candidates, many of them carefully positioned to do maximum damage to Labor and, more especially, Liberal heavyweight incumbents in vulnerable seats. This has turned out to be the most interesting aspect of an otherwise lacklustre election.
Our chart has been compiled with reference to speeches, manifestos and, where applicable, voting records. Should significant policy changes be announced during the campaign, the chart will be updated accordingly.