The Inside Word

“Winter has come” for the Albanese Government

This period during the winter recess of Parliament can be a tough time for incumbent governments, particularly when its less than a year out from a federal election. During this time governments should be clearing the decks for an election,  be right on message, and out every day selling its achievements. For the Albanese Government, this would mean spruiking its cost-of-living relief and new tax cuts that commenced at the start of this month.

But that isn’t the case right now, and I get a sense that people are a bit restless and remain uncertain about what their future looks like. There remains some uncertainty over interest rates, which are pushing household budgets to the limit. New research from Roy Morgan shows there are now 1.5 million mortgage holders (30.8%) ‘At Risk’ of ‘mortgage stress’ in the three months to April 2024.

I also sense the defection of Senator Payman from Labor to the crossbench has unsettled the government, most of whom fear the issue will be used to target some sitting MPs. Some Western Sydney and Victorian seats might come into play at the election, given seats like Watson and Blaxland have a Muslim Australian population of over 30 per cent. Plus, Labor-held seats like Werriwa, McMahon, Parramatta, Wills, and Calwell all have Muslim populations of more than 10 per cent. The recent UK election saw Labour lose four seats to pro-Gaza Independents in areas with large Muslim communities, despite winning a thumping victory, which will further this concern within Australian Labor. It’s yet another distraction Labor doesn’t need.

On top of this, Peter Dutton’s nuclear debate has succeeded in diverting attention from the Government’s messaging around its core cost-of-living measures, the $300 electricity rebate and the tax cuts.

Surely, doubts have cropped up in the minds of voters regarding the Government’s overall direction under Anthony Albanese. 

There are some question marks about the PM’s judgement: The Voice referendum was rejected by a majority of Australians; there was the somewhat over-the-top welcome home to Julian Assange; and then mixed messaging from the Government on an appropriate punishment for Senator Payman after she crossed the floor in support of the Greens motion calling for recognition of Palestinian statehood.

When large parts of the community are doing it pretty tough, it is during these times that people look to the government for strong leadership. People would much rather politics be taken out of the national energy debate so the government can focus on the acquiring the cheapest low emissions energy options for Australians. 

People want the same common sense applied to the issue of housing unaffordability, so young Australians can aspire to one day own their own home, just like previous generations of Australians have.

Recent polling identifies Labor’s primary vote among young people aged 18 to 34 at just 30 per cent, with support continuing to shift to the Greens. Perhaps the PM will use the winter recess to reshuffle the ministry and get his government back on message.

In the months ahead, the party that best lays out genuine and believable plans that provide hope to young Australians wanting to purchase a home, and some relief on cost-of-living, will likely be more successful on election day, due sometime between now and May next year.

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