Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanked his fellow Pentecostal churchgoers on Sunday after a miraculous election victory that defied years of unfavourable opinion polls and bruised a Labor opposition that had been widely expected to win. Morrison’s Liberal-led conservative coalition has won or is leading in 76 seats, the number needed to form a majority government, according to the Australian Electoral Commission. Slightly more than three-quarters of the roughly 17 million votes have been counted. A jubilant Scott Morrison hugged community members after an early Sunday service at the Horizon Church in Sydney’s southern suburbs, from where he was first elected to parliament in 2007. “You don’t get to be a prime minister and serve in that capacity unless you first are a member of your local electorate,” Scott Morrison said. He drew cheers later on Sunday when he arrived in the stands to watch his team, the Cronulla Sharks, in a rugby league match in his beachside electorate. Morrison told raucous supporters late on Saturday, who had earlier seemed resigned to defeat, that he had always believed in miracles. The result drew comparisons with Republican Donald Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were among the first world leaders to congratulate Morrison. “Congratulations to Scott on a GREAT WIN,” Trump said on Twitter before calling the Australian leader.. Jacinda Ardern, the progressive prime minister of neighbouring New Zealand, also called to congratulate him, saying that Morrison
A conservative stronghold for a century, Australia’s hinterland is now cracking like the drought-parched earth, voters say, with once-safe districts in jeopardy ahead of Saturday’s election. Driven by anger on issues from climate change to water allocation, the splintering presents a problem for the governing conservative coalition that normally considers itself secure in rural areas but is trailing in national opinion polls. In Mildura, a city of 30,000 people on the edge of the outback and part of the safest of 16 electorates held by the coalition’s junior partner, the farmer-based National Party, nobody can recall it ever needing to campaign so hard. “If you just look at the distribution of posters, they’re up everywhere,” Stefano de Pieri, a politician-turned-chef who has run a restaurant there for almost 30 years, told Reuters from his kitchen by a bend in the Murray River. Mildura was one of five constituencies to spurn the Nationals at state polls in November and March, its disillusionment stoked by a deepening drought and a feeling the 99-year-old party of “the bush” was taking voters for granted. “There is a sense of Mildura wanting to go through a political renewal,” de Pieri added, a contrast from previous years, when the Nationals were seen as sure-fire winners. In the agricultural heartland beyond, the mood is similar. “Everyone I’ve talked to is not going to vote National Party,” said Leonard Vallance, the livestock president of the Victorian Farmers’ Federation. “They need a good shake and I think they’ll get
Bill Shorten, leader of Australia’s opposition Labor party, is known as a deft negotiator who can work a room to his advantage. His ability to organize – honed while hammering out union pay deals in industries as disparate as horse racing, skiing and ports – may prove decisive at the May 18 general election. Opinion polls suggest the former trade union leader will guide a rejuvenated Labor to victory, ending nearly six years of conservative and center-right rule. “When he came onto the scene it struck me immediately that this guy was going places,” said race horse industry executive John Alducci who faced Shorten in contract talks in the 1990s. “He was aggressive, they all are. But he was intelligent and knew how to put forward a case when negotiating for stable hands.” Shorten, 52, has never been the preferred choice of voters, consistently trailing leaders of the Liberal-led coalition, including current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in personal popularity polls. But Labor’s brand has strengthened since Shorten took over in 2013 after a period of leadership instability; a crucial detail in an electoral system whereby voters cast ballots for party members and do not directly elect the prime minister. Labor’s 2019 campaign has focused on higher spending for health and education, and more ambitious curbs to greenhouse gas pollution than his opponents. Shorten said late last month in a leadership debate that the economy was stoking inequality. The center-left Labor wants to restrict the use of negative gearing – whereby
Australians have rallied behind Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his emotional story of his mum with Twitter users sharing accounts of their own mums who gave up careers to look after their families.
The hashtag #MyMum was trending after Mr Shorten fought back tears during a press conference after questions were raised about his mother’s story.
The Labor leader’s voice broke as he described his mother’s circumstances, to counter claims that he didn’t tell her full story during an appearance on Q&A this week.
“My mum suffered a catastrophic heart attack in her sleep … she never woke up,” he said. “It’s been about five years to last month when she passed away. I miss her every day.
“But I’m glad that she wasn’t here today to read that rubbish,” he said of the reports.
Australian political parties are using voter email addresses to find matching social media profiles then combining them with the country’s compulsory electoral roll data, illustrating how privacy scandals have done little to slow the march of data-driven campaigning.
While the use of data and public profiles from Facebook, Twitter and other social media for political campaigning has become widespread globally, Australia is one of the most open countries in the world to online information gathering by political operatives.
“Most Australians have little idea about how many data points organisations like political parties, let alone Facebook, have on each of them,” said Glenn Kefford, a political scientist at Macquarie University who has written extensively about data-driven campaigning.
“They would be shocked and probably disgusted.”