Asia Minute: Australia’s Political Shift
Australia’s political world has been rocked by another change at the top. As we reported yesterday for the fourth time in the last two years, the country has a new Prime Minister. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more on what that may mean in today’s Asia Minute.
The political equilibrium in Australia has shifted a bit toward the center. Tony Abbott lost the leadership of the Liberal Party, which despite its name, is the more conservative of Australia’s two major parties - the Labor Party carries the banner of the political left.
Abbott was voted out as Prime Minister by his own party - with rival Malcolm Turnbull taking over by a vote of 54 to 44. Unlike his immediate predecessor, Turnbull supports same-sex marriage and has voiced concerns about whether Australia is doing enough to combat global warming. But Turnbull stressed the economy as the main reason for the leadership challenge, saying about Abbott that “the Prime Minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs.”
The country has been hit hard by China’s slowing economy, and a global drop in demand for commodities—Australia’s leading exports. An official with the credit rating agency Moody’s warned against prolonged political turmoil, saying “if political uncertainty leads to economic policy uncertainty or dampens business sentiment, it would add to the challenges facing the Australian economy.”
It would also add to the challenges of Australia’s coalition government - likely to face a national election next year.