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Today — we go inside the Labor party at the moment it won victory.

The Vote: Inside Anthony Albanese’s election night

Read Transcript

Almost a decade of conservative government in Australia has ended.

 

Votes are still being counted, but it looks like the Liberal and National Party have suffered their worst result in decades.

The Greens, independents and minor parties have had historic wins, and will wield significant power in the new parliament.

But the government will be led by Anthony Albanese, Australia’s 31st Prime Minister – it’s something even he didn’t think was possible just a few years ago.

So did it all come together? How did Labor react on the night? And while they have won government, are there big lessons in this result that the party will have to take onboard?

Today — we go inside the Labor party at the moment it won victory. 

 

Guest: Chief political correspondent for The Saturday Paper, Karen Middleton.

 

Read Transcript

RUBY:
So I've just arrived at an RSL in the inner west of Sydney. I'm in Anthony Albanese's electorate and I'm at his election night party. It's going to be a long night. We don't know what's going to happen, but we do know that at some point Anthony Albanese is going to arrive here to either concede defeat or make his first speech as the Prime Minister of Australia.

[Theme Music Starts]

From Schwartz Media and 7am, I’m Ruby Jones and this is The Vote.

Almost a decade of conservative government in Australia has ended.

Votes are still being counted, but it looks like the Liberal and National Party have suffered their worst result decades. 

The Greens, independents and minor parties have had historic wins, and will wield significant power in the new parliament.

But the government will be led by Anthony Albanese, Australia’s 31st Prime Minister – it’s something even he didn’t think was possible just a few years ago.

So how did it all come together? How did Labor react on the night? And while they have won government, are there big lessons in this result that the party will have to take onboard?

Today - we go inside the Labor party at the moment it won victory. 

It’s Monday, May 23.

[Theme Music Ends]

RUBY:
So I've just arrived in the main room, the arena, a few hundred people in here, journalists and staffers, and results have just started to come through some early stages and take hold. But there's nothing as it really gives an indication of how this is going to go…

Archival Tape -- Patricia Karvelas:
“All of the polls are suggesting that this is the night that Labor will seize power, but none of them are quite believing it…” 

Archival Tape -- Leigh Sales:
“Okay. We're an hour into counting, Anthony. So what's the state of play?” 

Archival Tape -- Antony Green:
“Well, as that plays. We're not getting a clear picture at the moment…”

Archival Tape -- Antony Green:
“…if there was going to be a 4.5% swing, we’re not seeing it yet. That doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be, we’re just not seeing it yet.”

Archival Tape -- Leigh Sales:
“Well we’ve only got 1.7% of the vote, so y’know it’s very early days…”

RUBY (VO):
In the hall there’s a lot journalists, and I go looking for Karen Middleton in the crowd – she’s sending texts, taking calls and trying to find out what party strategists are making of these results so far.

RUBY:
Okay. So Karen Middleton, it's now almost 8:00. We're starting to see results come through. Talk me through what we're seeing.

KAREN:
So it's a mixed bag. It's still early in early counting some seats and it was always going to be a really mixed result. But I think we're here at the at the Labor Party event and I think they're starting to dare to be a bit more confident. They were terribly nervous and I think people walking around, someone actually said to me they had PTSD after 2019 is what happened with the opinion polls. So they didn't dare to think they were actually going to win and they're now looking more confident. We're seeing an early swing against Peter Dutton in the seat of Dickson in Queensland, which was a big surprise. So we haven't heard anything much yet from the seats in Victoria. So we don't know that. Josh Frydenberg it would be pretty amazing if the Liberal Party lostt Peter Dutton and Josh Frydenberg

RUBY:
The two leadership contenders

KAREN:
The two leadership contenders. So at this point who knows? So there are some mixed results and I think we see some wildcard. So there are a lot of things we should say. It's a bit unclear yet, but I would say this is a happier party here at the Labor event this time this year than it was this time in 2019. 

RUBY:
Yeah, the mood is definitely excited and hopeful, I would say in that room.

KAREN:
Yeah I think, I think as I said, I think they daring to dream which they weren't prepared to do right at the beginning.

RUBY:
Great, well we’ll check back in with you in another hour or two and see how it’s all going. Thanks Karen!

**

RUBY:
So we're a few hours in now and the room is filling out. There’s lots of journalists, lots of  staffers. The mood is excited, I would say, at this point. It looks like it's a good night for Labor. Seats are going in their favour as well as the Greens. We’ve just seen Adam Bandt give his speech after winning his seat in Melbourne and also picking up the seat of Griffith in Queensland as well for the Greens

Archival Tape -- Adam Bandt:
“…Look, I think there's a reason that people are saying the climate crisis is something that. You just had three years of droughts and fires and floods and enhanced gains. And people can say this is happening and it's unfolding. And I think increasingly what we're seeing is that that cuts across all voting persuasions. It cuts across all demographics. People know it's happening and they want action on it…”

RUBY:
It's way too soon to call. No one really knows what's going to happen, but there is a lot of excitement. And a lot of hope and a lot of optimism for a Labor win. 

RUBY (VO):
I find Karen again -  it’s about 10 minutes to 9:00 and it seems like the story of the night is coming into focus.

KAREN:
The story that's emerging is a story about the environment actually, and about animosity or frustration with major parties. So you're seeing big swings to the Greens and you're seeing big swings to the teal independents. So what we're seeing in particularly in Queensland where there aren't any deal seats and that in terms of the overall picture at this point in the night, it's looking like a minority Labor government with a swag of deals and some Greens in the middle. You look at the faces of some of the liberal commentators on television news, I just saw Michael Kroger's face on Sky News looking ashen. I think everyone is saying the coalition can't form a majority government now. And you would have to say with that kind of a cross bench, it's pretty hard for them to form a minority government.

Archival Tape -- David Speers:
“So right now the Labor Party have picked up. What is it? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven seats. Remember, they need a net gain of seven seats to form a majority government. We can't say they've got there yet because of these ones that are still in doubt that could offset these gains. But boy, Labor would be feeling increasingly comfortable about getting to a majority when you look at that. Chisholm, Boothby, Higgins…”

Archival Tape -- Liberal Analyst:
“I think the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead. So I…I just can't see how the electoral maths will add up for the Coalition at the moment and WA is proven to be as bad as the rest of the country.” 

Archival Tape -- David Speers:
“Even the prospect of a minority government is gone now do you think for the coalition?” 

##Archival Tape -- Liberal Analyst:
“I'd say so, yeah.”

RUBY (VO):
At this stage of the night, Labor supporters are becoming pretty exuberant, they’re sensing a victory.  But not everything is good news - there’s seats the party is in danger of losing as well. Seats like Fowler, which was a pretty safe Labor seat - the party held on a 14 percent margin - but now it looks the Labor candidate Kristina Keneally might have lost the seat. 

Archival Tape -- Sky News:
“Let's have a look at the seat of Fowler and then that's been a big conversation point. So Kristina Keneally coming in from outside the electorate.”

Archival Tape -- Sky News:
“No one from the Labour Party is giving away Fowler At the moment, but it's a concern.” 

RUBY (VO):
Labor front-bencher Tony Bourke is among the Party figures who’re starting to arrive and join the party, so I want to ask him what signal these results are sending to the party.

Tony Burke:
“We're not there yet. Like some of the broadcasters have declared the outcome before. It's quite there, but there's definitely momentum. It's very difficult to say how Scott Morrison remains prime minister and our thoughts right now. We're desperately hoping to just get to that precipice where we start implementing the things we've been talking about.”

RUBY:
And it looks like Kristina Keneally might lose her seat. That'll be a huge blow

Tony Burke: If that happens. It's a huge hit to the party. A huge hit. Christine is someone who we really wanted on the frontbench. It's not over there yet, but definitely there's some clear expectations there being made by the community.

RUBY:
Okay so it looks like Monique Ryan has taken Frydenberg’s seat! Josh Frydenberg is out…wow! That’s incredible, really. The treasurer has lost his seat.

RUBY (VO):
Seats are falling quickly, so I find Karen Middleton again and talk about what’s happening…

RUBY:
Okay so things have started to move a bit more quickly it seems…

KAREN:
Yes..I'm losing my voice now from shouting. Sorry. At the moment it’s still looking like a Labor minority government. But there are some of the hardheads who was saying they think there's still an outside chance of majority government.

We are seeing a whole lot of really wild results here other than what we spoke about, which is the climate environment message and the anti major party message I think is a message of not taking your community for granted, whatever your community is. So I know there was a bit of pushback on. Well, the media are going. 

Archival Tape -- 7 News Reporter:
“Prime Minister-...well, Scott Morrison has arrived here at Liberal HQ, we are waiting for him to come out from that door just behind me. His staff members have filed into the room…”

RUBY:
Okay so Scott Morrison is about to make his speech…

Archival Tape -- Scott Morrison:
“Tonight I've spoken to the Leader of the Opposition and the incoming Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and I've congratulated him on his election victory this evening.” 

Archival Tape -- Scott Morrison:
“I as leader take responsibility for the wins and the losses. That is the burden and that is the responsibility of leadership. And as a result, I will be handing over the leadership at the next party room meeting to ensure that the party can be taken forward under new leadership, which is the appropriate thing to do…”

RUBY:
Okay so it’s just gone 11 o’clock. Scott Morrison has conceded defeat, and now we’re all just waiting for Albanese to arrive to take to the stage to make his first ever speech as prime minister of Australia.

We'll be back in a moment.

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Archival Tape -- Penny Wong:
“Please welcome to the stage. The man set to be the 31st Prime Minister of Australia.” 

Archival Tape -- Anthony Albanese:
“Tonight. The Australian people have voted for change. I am humbled by this victory, and I'm honoured to be given the opportunity to serve as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia.”

RUBY:
So Karen, we've heard Scott Morrison concede and we've now seen Anthony Albanese take to the stage and claim victory as Australia's 31st Prime Minister. Tell me what you thought of the speech. 

KAREN:
I thought it was a good speech. I thought it was a well-crafted and well-delivered speech. I thought it was a speech with great heart, actually. And that was a real theme in the speech that that we can be a better country and maybe we can be our best selves, that we can be a nation of opportunity for everyone. So I think there was heart and inclusion

Archival Tape -- Anthony Albanese:
“And on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement From the Heart in full.” 

KAREN:
and he opened the speech with a reference to the earlier statement From the Heart, a pledge to implement that in full, which I think was very important and says to Australia's Indigenous people, We're putting you first.

RUBY:
A huge moment for the Labor Party and also very clearly a huge moment. And Anthony T personally, you could see him on stage get quite emotional at times, particularly when on his mother, which he did a few times as well.

Archival Tape -- Anthony Albanese:
“It says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mum who was a disability pensioner who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown. Can stand before you tonight as Australia's prime minister.” 

KAREN:
That's right. I mean, she's the most important person in his life. 

Archival Tape -- Anthony Albanese:
“My mother dreamt of a better life for me and I hope that my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars.”

KAREN:
She's no longer with us. In fact, in four days time, it'll be 20 years since she died. He's acutely conscious of that anniversary, and it was always going to be case that he would acknowledge her from that stage if he won tonight. 

Archival Tape -- Anthony Albanese:
“And I hope there are families in public housing watching this tonight. Because I want every parent to be able to tell their child, no matter where you label, where you come from in Australia, the doors of opportunity are open to us all.” 

KAREN:
And he considers that everything he is is due to the hard work and sacrifice and love of his mum, and he wants other people to have the same chance and to be aware that it's possible in this country. So he talked about the door of opportunity being open and in fact, getting wider and that he puts down completely in his own life and everything he's achieved to to the, as I said, the love and sacrifice of Marion.

RUBY:
And so in that speech, he spoke a bit about his priorities. Now that he is the prime minister in one of those first actions is going to be actually leaving the country to go to the court meeting. But tell me a bit about that and other things that we should be expecting him to do straight away. 

KAREN:
He made it clear that he wants his economic team working straight away, working from Monday. They'll be sworn in on Monday. I think he's acutely aware of the state of the economy and the situation many people find themselves in with the cost of living. 

Archival Tape -- Anthony Albanese:
“During this campaign, I have put forward a positive, clear plan for a better future for our country. I know I have shared the two principles that will drive a government that I lead. No one left behind, because we should always look after the disadvantaged and the vulnerable. But also no one held back because we should always support aspiration and opportunity.” 

KAREN:
So he'll be looking at how they can reshape the economy to alleviate some of those burdens on people. So I think that will be very important to him. He's aware of security as well. He knows that Labor reputationally historically is not the party of national security. So I think this court meeting is is very important to him to make a statement that he is the new prime minister and that he does have a grip on national security and that he does have the nation's secure future in mind. He's been talking about this court meeting for some time, about meeting with the leaders of the of India, Japan and the United States. So I think he sees that as an important marker for himself as a new prime minister and a prime minister with credentials that he wants to develop on on security, as well as economic matters and the kind of social issues and welfare and heartt issues that we we'd better know the Labor Party for. 

RUBY:
And votes are still being counted. We still don't know exactly which seats are going to go which way. But what does this result mean more broadly for the Liberal Party? 

KAREN:
Oh, it's a terrible result for the Liberal Party. I mean, it's been described to me as a bloodbath in in Victoria, in Western Australia in particular. Those are the two pivotal states really. Western Australia is so strong for Labor, much stronger than any of us expected. I think that it could well deliver a majority government. There's no doubt, as we know, that be a Labor government of some form. And so I think that it's a huge result for the Liberals. It looks like Peter Dutton will be returning, so he may be the logical next choice as leader. Scott Morrison has already said he won't be a candidate. He's conceded that already. So there's a lot of soul searching to be done in the Liberal Party. I think there'll be a reckoning about the the divergence of left and right and of the political game playing that's going on. Whether the strategies were right, whether the presidential style campaign was right, and what is the future for the Liberal Party? What do they actually believe? That's that's something they really have to reconcile within themselves, because it hasn't been clear, I think, for some time. And they there was talk about being a broad church, but really you've got to actually leave that and incorporate these collective policies that incorporates the whole breadth of that church. And they haven't done it successfully. And I think that's what we've seen tonight. 

RUBY:
And so the era of Scott Morrison is over. I mean, he's staying as a local MP, but… 

KAREN:
It will be unusual if he stays for a long time. Most ex prime ministers don't stick around in Parliament for a while. For a long while they'll stay for a bit and then there'll be a by election. So I would expect that that would be the same as Scott Morrison. He might prove me wrong, but usually it's the ones who think they're going to come back that will stick around and I can't see that happening with Scott Morrison. So I would think that he will disappear at some point into the future. I think the other thing that's really a big issue that we've touched on earlier, but is the rise of the Greens and the protest vote with tails and Greens. And I think that's, you know, there's there's a number of messages there. There's an anti major party message which both the Liberal and Labor parties need to look at is a pro climate action pro-environment message that's really important that people are people are sending to political parties generally with the election of tails and Greens. 

And I think that the Labor Party in particular is going to have to listen. And there's a message about listening to your community. You know, you look at the people who've been shock defeats tonight. They are in circumstances where they weren't listening to their community, whatever that community is. And I really think there's a very strong message there from the Australian people don't take it for granted. We know what we think and we want you to listen and represent our views faithfully. And I think that's a real lesson for our democracy and our politics for this election result tonight.

RUBY:
The night is ending, the crowd is starting to leave - the media are packing up their gear. But then Anthony Albanese actually returns to the hall, he’s walking through the floor to shake hands with some of the party faithful who’ve stuck around and that’s when I get the chance to ask him one quick question: 

 

RUBY:
Anthony, how are you feeling? Has it sunk in?
 

Anthony Albanese:
Well, it's a big moment in my life, but it's also a big moment for Australia when the government changes and I hope to implement the plans that I've put forward for a better future.

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RUBY:
Also in the news today,

 

Anthony Albanese will be formally sworn in as Prime Minister today.

 

Joining him will be the economic team of treasurer Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher, along with Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles.

 

Other ministers will be sworn in after the Labor caucus meets to decide on ministerial appointments in the next couple of weeks.

 

And..

 

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham has said the Coalition must become stronger on climate action after their defeat.

 

Birmingham is one of the few surviving senior moderates in the party and he also told the ABC on Sunday that the party should run more female candidates in future to, quote: “reflect the reality of modern Australia."

 

I’m Ruby Jones, this is 7am, see you tomorrow.

 

Host

Ruby Jones is an investigative journalist and host of 7am.

Guest

Karen Middleton is The Saturday Paper’s chief political correspondent.