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Asia Minute: Australians Vote in National Parliamentary Elections

Australian Embassy Jakarta / Flickr
Australian Embassy Jakarta / Flickr

Voters across Australia will go to the polls tomorrow in a national parliamentary election.  Polls show the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is likely to hold onto power, but with a slimmer majority in both houses of parliament.  One factor: the complications of Australia’s political parties. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

When it comes to Australia’s elections this weekend, you can start with the political parties—which may seem a bit confusing to outsiders.  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is a member of the Liberal Party…although its politics are conservative.  The left of center Labor Party is the main opposition—and Labor and the Liberals are the two largest parties in the country.  The Liberals are in office now because of a coalition with the National Party—which according to its website says its priority is “regional Australia”—outside the major cities.

The National Party goes back more than 90 years…and grew out of the Australian Farmers’ Federal Organization--- traditionally representing agricultural interests.  The Greens Party is left of center—its website says it’s based on four pillars: ecological sustainability, grassroots democracy, social justice and peace and non-violence. 

Then there are the smaller parties—nearly five-dozen are registered with the Australian Electoral Commission.  Many are focused on single issues—from the Bullet Train for Australia Party to the Smokers’ Rights Party.  Every seat in Australia’s two houses of parliament is up for election…and turnout should be high…because in Australia, not voting is against the law.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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