VICE Votes

What Happens Now? Answering Your Election Questions

Are we screwed over climate change? How did we get this so wrong? Will Penny Wong ever be PM?
Bill Shorten Scott Morrison Clive Palmer Tanya Plibersek australia 2019 election
Images via Wikipedia 

Even with all of Sunday to process the election results, it’s pretty safe to say that the country is stunned.

Not just the far-lefties, the centre-lefties, and the centre-by-centre-lefties, but every single person up and down the ideological spectrum is currently Wile E Coyote in the moment after he runs off a cliff, hovering in mid-air, trying to come to grips with this new reality before gravity sets in.


All the pre-election scuttlebutt suggested the Libs had written off this election long ago. But come Saturday night, they pulled off a win that just a few days earlier had felt almost impossible.

So as the sun sets on the 2019 federal election we’re here to help you understand what just happened.

Is this our Brexit/Trump moment?

Our Brexit/Trump moment would be somehow electing Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party to a lower house majority, or simultaneously experiencing mass hypnosis and scribbling “punch me in the crotch” as a write-in candidate and leaving the AEC with no choice but to travel the country punching all eligible voters squarely in the crotch.

If you’re super desperate to view this through the prism of British or American politics, then this is sort-of like when Theresa May won re-election in 2017, or when George W Bush won re-election in 2004.

WATCH: Young Australians Talk Climate Change, Immigration, Indigenous Affairs and More

How did the polls get it so wrong?

That’s the big question.

One pollster speculated that those who are less engaged in politics are also less likely to respond to polls, and more likely to vote for populist parties like United Australia Party or Pauline Hanson's One Nation. But humanity’s disdain for a cold caller still doesn’t account for the discrepancy between polls and what we are grudgingly going to call, for the sake of argument, reality.


It seems likely that a dearth of landlines helped contribute to an inaccurate sample size for polls that require a fixed location. Or that receiving a call from an automated system is proving less enticing than a call from a human operator.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests some people were getting calls on their mobiles to ask about electorates they did not live in.

What happens next with Labor?

With Bill giving up the reins, the leadership field is open. Anthony Albanese, who originally ran against Bill back in 2013—and has no doubt already written the chapter of his memoir in which he explains how he would have definitely won this election if he’d been leader—is running. That news leaked in the middle of Shorten’s concession speech.

We’re also going to see Tanya Plibersek running against Albo. Interestingly, a recent study placed her as one of the country’s most believable Aussie politicians—just below Penny Wong and Julie Bishop. A Tanya-led Labor could help galvanise swing voters, and ensure three years of “Tanya, why isn’t Penny leader?”

But aside from the cosmetic leadership change—which, admittedly, plays a big role in these contests—what does it mean for Labor’s identity as an opposition party? After all, it made a huge pitch based on a bold vision of the future, and we punished them for it. Well, about that…

What did this mean for climate change?

Here’s the thing: this is very good news for climate change.

But it’s very bad news for efforts to prevent climate change.


I’m sorry, you should have been clearer when you worded your question.

With LNP Senator and Minister for Resources Matt Canavan tweeting at 8:44pm on election night “START ADANI!”—in much the same way a Bond villain would request that his team of scientists initiate the doomsday sequence—we can take it as a given that Australia will be taking no meaningful action to combat climate change in the next Parliament.

The PM claims we’re on track to meet the Paris Climate Agreement, which requires us to reduce our emissions by 27 percent by 2030. In reality, we are heading in the opposite direction. Very much the opposite direction.

But there’s a bigger problem. Well, not bigger, but not helpful.

Labor’s lesson in defeat will be to avoid the risk of bold vision, and since bold vision is the only thing that’s going to save us at this point, any hope we would have for a climate-focussed government or opposition has dried up faster than the Murray-Darling.

If humanity somehow finds the courage to combat climate change, it will happen despite Australia. No pressure, Jacinda.

I’m a sad leftie, is there any good news from Saturday?

Not much. But if really need to alleviate your pain, here’s something: Clive Palmer discovered you cannot buy your way into power. Or, at least, not in the very specific way he went about it.

Fraser “I had no idea the phrase Final Solution had anything to do with Nazis oh no here comes an egg” Anning proved a shade too racist for even Australian voters, and was not returned to the Senate. Remember, he only got in when Malcolm “grammar is how governments enslave citizens” Roberts was deemed ineligible for the Senate under section 44 of the constitution. Roberts is almost certain to return to the Senate as a result of Saturday’s vote.


Finally, if you’re not a fan of Tony Abbott, you can take some small relief at the fact that he was bumped off in his own electorate by independent candidate Zali Steggall. So Tony Abbott and his overtly climate change denying ways are out, and all that’s left is a party full of covert climate change deniers.

And that was the good news section.

So, how long until Scott Morrison gets rolled and I have to learn the name of… uh… is one of them called “Michael Keenan”?

No rolling this time around.

Both the Libs and Labor have changed party rules just enough to ensure that it would be very difficult (but not impossible) for another leadership spill to happen.

But even if they hadn’t, ScoMo—the man credited with winning the unwinnable election—is basically untouchable.

And even if he wasn’t, it will be a generation before anyone credibly floats an opinion poll as evidence of unpopularity. 2019 will become a rallying cry, a promise to the true believers the next time they’re facing down the barrel of overwhelming defeat.

If you’re still keen for a Trump comparison because the last time you felt this way was three Novembers ago, then here’s one: there’s a good chance we’re about to enter our own unique corner of the Fake News era, where no reasonable method of capturing the nation’s mood will be treated with anything but contempt.

A politician cites an opinion poll? Fake news, we don’t believe them any more.


A journalist says voters are turning against a politician? Sorry, you got 2019 wrong, why should we believe you this time?

It’s not that polls are uniformly unreliable; after all, they’ve been a fairly accurate indicator in the past. But this is such a high-profile fuck up, one that even people who don’t care about polls are talking about, that we’ve now basically lost faith in the only method we have for taking the temperature of the nation.

And we didn’t even need a Trump to do it.

Follow Lee on Twitter .

For more election content, head over to VICE Votes.