Labor on verge of majority government

Anthony Albanese will today be sworn in as Australia's 31st prime minister, with Labor ending close to a decade of Coalition rule and increasingly likely to form majority rather than minority government.

What we know:

  • Albanese and four frontbenchers will be fast-tracked into office ahead of his trip to Japan today for the Quad meeting with leaders of the US, India and Japan (ABC); 
  • It comes as the counting of postal votes reveals a stronger swing to Labor than votes cast on election night, increasing the likelihood of majority government (Poll Bludger); 
  • Labor has so far secured 72 seats — well ahead of the Coalition on 52 — but as counting continues the party needs 76 to form government in its own right;
  • Labor’s victory was particularly emphatic in WA, where it enjoyed double digit swings  after capitalising on the Coalition’s support of Clive Palmer’s court challenge to border closures (The Conversation); 
  • “It’s something that’s a big moment in my life, but what I want it to be is a big moment for the country … I want to change the way that politics operates in this country,” Albanese said of the result on Sunday (SMH); 
  • Labor remains locked in a battle with the Coalition for a handful of seats including Bennelong, Deakin, Gilmore and Sturt, and is neck-and-neck with the Greens in seats including Brisbane and Griffith (Herald Sun); 
  • If Labor falls short Albanese will have to negotiate with a record number of independent and Greens to form minority government.
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Inner cities turn Green and teal

A wave of newly elected teal independents and Greens have pledged to use potential leverage to demand an increased emissions target, if Labor needs them to form minority government.

What we know:

  • The Greens are on track for their best election result ever, including a “Greenslide” in Brisbane where they could gain up to 3 lower house seats (Crikey); 
  • Greens leader Adam Bandt retained the seat of Melbourne, and the party is also a chance in the inner Melbourne seat of Macnamara;
  • They will be joined by up to six new “teal” candidates and reelected independents Zali Steggall and Helen Haines (SMH); 
  • The independents secured wealthy seats that had been in Liberal hands for decades, promising action on climate, integrity and women;
  • Teal candidates including Dr Monique Ryan said they would use their leverage to push Labor to increase its 2030 emissions target from 42% up to at least 60% (The Conversation); 
  • Bandt said the Greens surge creates a mandate to end development of new fossil fuel projects in Australia (SMH). 
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Senate packed with progressives

The Senate is on track for a progressive majority, with a record showing from the Greens and independent climate activist David Pocock set to be part of an expanded crossbench of at least 17 members.

What we know:

  • The Greens are on track to have their largest-ever presence in the upper house with 12 senators (ABC); 
  • Labor will likely need their votes along with former rugby star Pocock, who is set to beat Liberal Zed Seselja for the final ACT senate seat, to pass legislation opposed by the Coalition (SMH); 
  • Instead of Pocock, Labor could turn to Jacqui Lambie and her party candidate, who is on track to oust Liberal Eric Abetz in Tasmania (The Mercury); 
  • The crossbench appears set to be more straightforward to deal with than that faced by the first Rudd government (The Guardian). 
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Dutton poised to lead Liberals

Outgoing defence minister Peter Dutton plans to contest for the Liberal leadership, with little standing in his way after his moderate rivals were largely wiped out in Saturday’s election.

Dutton has told colleagues that he expects to announce his candidacy in a matter of days (SMH). 

With up to 10 moderate MPs — almost certainly including potential leadership rival Josh Frydenberg — losing their seats and conservatives now completely dominating the party, Dutton is regarded a warm favourite for the role (The Australian $). 

Some remaining moderates have cautioned against a shift further right under Dutton, warning it will make the prospect of reclaiming the party’s former heartland seats even harder (The Guardian). 

Alternatively the Liberals may abandon those inner-city seats and try to form a new constituency in the outer suburbs (The Conversation). 

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Clive’s millions net zero seats

Right-wing populist parties have struggled to make any headway in the federal election, with United Australia Party and One Nation battling to secure any seats at all.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party may have lost its parliamentary leader Craig Kelly’s seat in Hughes and only grown its primary vote by 1% to 4.3% despite spending close to $100m during the campaign (Crikey). 

United Australia Party’s best remaining hope is to secure a senate seat in Victoria on the back of Liberal preferences (The Age). 

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson meanwhile is in a race with Legalise Cannabis Australia for the final senate seat in Queensland (Brisbane Times). 

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The prime minister’s defeat suits me fine … such brutality and cynicism, and I would even be tempted to say unequivocal incompetence.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, evidentially still seething over Australia cancelling a submarine contract with France, bids au revoir to former prime minister Scott Morrison (SBS).

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Postscript: Morrison escapes on holiday as nation experiences massive landslide

Scott Morrison has immediately left the country to go on holiday after he became aware of yet another disaster on his watch, this time an enormous landslide taking place across the nation. As seats, and in some cases entire careers, began to come crashing down around the country, Morrison told Jenny to book the first available flight to Hawaii (The Shovel).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.