Recent opinion polls – Newspoll and Essential – have confirmed the poor standing of the Coalition and the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton. The news is getting worse for the Coalition, as they continue to oppose every government program and announcement with a negative response, without providing a viable alternative.
The Shadow Treasurer, Angus Taylor, commenced that the inflation rate coming down to 7 per cent was terrible news, and that the Labor government doesn’t understand the pain that the electorate is going through. Similarly, the Shadow Finance Minister, Senator Jane Hume, criticised the government’s two-for-one prescription program, which essentially halves the cost of medicines, citing concerns that it won’t do much to alleviate the cost of living pressures. However, the Coalition had seriously considered introducing the same plan when they were last in government.
Even with the government’s Voice to Parliament proposal, the Coalition has responded negatively, asking for more details, then asking for more or something different to what they asked for. This constant opposition for the sake of opposition has led to criticism, with the public calling for a constructive opposition that offers support when needed and builds a policy and an alternate vision for how government should be done.
The failed Abbott ministries serve as a reminder of the result of continual opposition – continuing even when they were in government – with the Morrison and Turnbull ministries also facing criticism for similar tactics. Effective oppositions in the past, such as the Whitlam and Howard oppositions, opposed what needed to be opposed while supporting what needed to be supported with cogent and actual argument. They built a policy and an alternate vision for how government should be done, ultimately leading to success.
The current Liberal Party has shown little interest in this approach, with a sole focus on getting back into power as quickly as possible. However, with the anti-corruption commission coming and the potential for leadership candidates to feature in it, it may be time for the party to consider mass resignations and the restarting of the party with better candidates.
As the Labor government faces pressure in developing the budget, an effective opposition that offers constructive criticism and provides alternatives is needed to hold the government accountable while building a vision for the country. The Coalition must reassess its opposition tactics and provide a viable alternative if they hope to regain public support.
Do smaller parties and independent candidates offer a solution?
The rise of smaller parties and independent candidates is changing the face of Australian politics, and could be a sign of the failure of the two-party system, according to some political experts. With the major parties experiencing a decline in their primary vote, and demographic changes leading to shifting voting patterns, it’s becoming easier for smaller parties and independents to win lower house seats. This was evident in the 2022 federal election, where the Australian Greens won a lower house seat off the Liberal Party for the first time, and several teal independents also picked up seats previously held by the Liberal Party.
As a result, there’s a growing likelihood of more minority governments in the future, as multiparty coalitions become the norm rather than the exception. While this may be a relatively new concept for Australia, it’s a model that’s worked well in other countries such as Germany and New Zealand. However, there are concerns about the potential for shadow candidates who are really part of one or the other major party, and the use of job figures to shuffle preferences through in the Senate.
Despite these challenges, there’s a lot of enthusiasm within the electorate for the smaller parties and independent candidates, who are bringing fresh perspectives and meaningful reform ideas to the political landscape. They’re also offering an incentive for people to participate in politics, with the belief that getting into Parliament isn’t as insurmountable as it might have been in the past. With the major parties facing an uphill battle to remain relevant and electable, the success of smaller parties and independents could be the key to their long-term survival.
It is clear that the Australian political landscape is facing significant challenges. The emergence of minor parties and independent candidates, coupled with declining support for the major parties, is redefining politics. It is important to note that this trend is not limited to the Liberal Party, as the Labor Party also faces similar issues.
To address these challenges, there is a need for reform to the voting system to ensure that it is fair and inclusive for all parties and candidates. Such reforms could help to promote greater diversity in Australian politics and provide more opportunities for minor parties and independents to have a voice.
However, it is important to ensure that any changes to the political system occur naturally and are in the best interests of Australia as a whole. The major parties have played an important role in Australian politics for many years, and while their relevance may be declining, they are likely to remain a major force in the foreseeable future.
The challenges facing the Australian political landscape are significant, but with thoughtful and considered reforms, we can ensure that our democracy remains strong and vibrant for years to come.