Once again, the polls did us dirty. Despite the widely held opinion being that Labor would (just) sneak in, the Coalition took out the 2019 election. If your head is spinning, we feel you—so is ours. The next week will no doubt be full of “How Did This Happen?” analysis from all corners of Australian politics, but for right now, here is what you need to know about what went down yesterday.
Scott Morrison Brought It Home for the Coalition
First things first: in a move that felt very unlikely a couple of weeks ago, the Prime Minister held on. Even he seemed shocked by the news, saying in his victory speech, “I’ve always believed in miracles”
He also observed that “it’s the quiet Australians who have won a victory tonight.”
Speaking of “Quiet Australians”...
The upset is already being compared to Hilary Clinton’s 2016 US presidential loss and Brexit (not a great lineup to be part of). All the events were surprise upsets because they went against predictions made by relying on polling data. In the lead up to yesterday’s vote, the polls had Bill Shorten and the Labor party as taking out a narrow victory. But as Morrison understood, it was the “quiet Australians” that helped him out in the end.
Once again it’s raised issues over the value of polling at all; and highlighted the gulf between what people say publicly about their political opinions and what they express in the voting booth.
Peter Lewis of Essential Research told the Guardian: “We treat polls with more import than they may deserve given the margin of error...Is it that the polls were wrong or is it the way we read polls that is flawed? We obviously need to go back to model and see how it held up.”
RIP Bill Shorten
Not surprisingly, as soon as Labor was on the ropes speculation began that a loss would end Bill Shorten’s tepid time as the leader of the opposition. Seeing the writing on the wall, Shorten stepped down as party leader when it became clear they’d lost. After calling up Morrison to concede the election he made the announcement to the Australian people, saying, “We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.”
Speculation is now boiling about who will take his place. Senior frontbencher Anthony Albanese is expected to put up his hand to run, with deputy leader Tanya Plibersek and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen also expected to make a play for the leadership.
Shorten has noted that he does intend ”to continue to serve as the member for Maribyrnong”.
There Were a Few Painful Moments for the Coalition
After holding it for 24 years, Tony Abbott lost his Warringah seat to Zali Steggall. The former PM’s loss largely came down to climate change—more specifically, his rejection of it. Steggall, an independent and former Olympian, focused most of her campaign on taking meaningful steps to address the climate crisis. In her victory speech she promised to be “a climate leader for you. And I will keep the new government to account, and make sure we take action on climate change.
WATCH: Young Australians Talk Climate Change, Immigration, Indigenous Affairs and More
Clive Palmer’s 60 Million Ad Campaign Failed—Or Did It?
The United Australia Party leader and controversial billionaire is believed to have spent over $60 million on election advertising—aka those yellow billboards you see everywhere. At first glance, it was a bum move.
Despite putting up candidates in all lower house seats, the UAP didn’t take home a single one and only secured 3.4 percent of the national vote. Crunching the numbers, ABC election analyst Anthony Green estimated that financially it works out to about $1,500 per vote.
Some have argued, however, that Palmer’s attacks on Labor may have pushed voters towards the Coalition—even if he didn’t quite manage to swing them to his own party.
Catch up on more election coverage at VICE Votes.
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