“The Australian people have voted for change,” Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese told an excited room of almost 1,000 party faithful at a Sydney RSL soon after midnight on Sunday morning – along with millions of Australians tuning in from home and election parties across the nation.
The 59-year-old son of a single mother and disability pensioner who grew up in public housing said he hoped his journey “inspired Australians to go after the stars”.
“I have laid out an aggressive, clear plan for a better future for our country,” Mr Albanese said, adding that his government aimed to leave no one behind or stop anyone, and “to promote Unity and optimism, not fear and distributive”.
“No matter how you vote … the government I lead respects each and every one of you every day,” he told the crowd.
Supporters cheered the arrival of Labour leader Anthony Albanese after Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted defeat in the federal election. source: Associated Press / Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
Mr Albanese has become the fourth man since World War II to lead Labour from opposition to government after his party made several strides in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
It is unclear whether the fluctuations will be enough for Labour to form a government with a 76-seat majority, or if they will have to rely on the support of neutral MPs.
But in any case, Australia awaits a new political era.
From tackling climate change to scrapping temporary protection visas and overhauling health insurance, here’s what we can expect from Australia under a Labor government.
Pledge to ‘end the climate war’
Neither Mr Albanese nor outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison have put climate change front and centre in their six-week campaign, yet Against the backdrop of natural disasters such as forest fires and floods.
Labor’s climate policy has gone further than the Coalition, which analysts say has contributed to their election gains, while the Greens and independents have made notable progress on the back of proposed emissions targets.
Greens leader Adam Bandt hailed the election result as a “green slippery slope” on Sunday after his party could gain four seats, saying the Greens were willing to fight with Mr Albanese if Labour failed to win a majority chat.
In his victory speech, Mr Albanese was quick to reiterate his climate commitments.
“Together we can end the climate war,” he said, adding that Australia had the potential to become a “renewable energy superpower”.
Labour Party Published in December 2021, it outlines a commitment to a 2030 emissions reduction target of 43 per cent from 2005 levels, which it says will put Australia on track to net-zero emissions [emissions] by 2050.
To achieve this, Labour has said it will invest $20 billion to upgrade the grid so it can handle more renewable energy.
The party also said it plans to remove taxes on electric vehicles to make them $2,000 to $12,000 cheaper and install hundreds of community batteries across the country that will be charged by rooftop solar and provide shared energy storage for up to 100,000 homes.
There are also plans to install 85 solar banks to benefit more than 25,000 people without access to rooftop solar, such as renters and low-income households.
Under previously announced policies, the public service will be required to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, although the Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and security agencies will be exempt.
Labour will also allocate $3 billion to invest in clean energy technologies such as green metals (minerals used in green energy technologies) and seek to adjust what the government calls a “safeguard mechanism”.
The safeguard mechanism would allow high-emitting countries to pay for their emissions, with the eligibility threshold gradually reducing from 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year over time. The Business Council of Australia has proposed lowering the threshold to 25,000 tonnes, a proposal that Labor has said it will follow.
The Greens have announced a negotiating wish list to maintain the balance of power in the pending parliament and have pledged to phase out coal and gas.
Mr Bant also said he would call on the next administration to sign US President Joe Biden’s Global Methane Pledge to phase out methane gas, the second-biggest contributor to man-made global warming after carbon dioxide.
Greens leader Adam Bant has said his party is willing to speak to Anthony Albanese if Labour fails to win a majority. source: AAP / Louis ASCUI/AAPIMAGE
Temporary protection visa repeal
Labor’s stance on border protection and temporary protection visas has been a confusing topic during the campaign, with the party not issuing any hard-line policies on immigration, although it has suggested the system needs to be overhauled.
Nonetheless, Mr Albanese said he supported offshore processing, the resettlement of asylum seekers in a third country and the return to sea when it was safe to do so, but he did not support the Temporary Protection Visa (TPV).
TPVs are issued to asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without a visa and are subsequently found to be unprotected. They can last up to three years, and holders of these visas can work and get health insurance.
The prime minister-elect says Labor may consider granting foreign workers permanent residency if it forms government, given they are already living in the community and paying taxes.
“If someone comes here temporarily and spends their time here year after year, month after month, why don’t we give them a little certainty and let those who have contributed to the country stay?” Mr Albanese said in April said at the National Farmers’ Federation meeting.
In a bid to strengthen ties with the Pacific following the signing of the China-Solomon Islands security deal, Labour also said it would reform mobility schemes in the Pacific and create new contact visas to encourage more immigration.
A heartfelt commitment to Uluru
In the opening remarks of Saturday night’s victory speech, Mr Albanese said he was committed to a “completely heartfelt Uluru Declaration”.
“We can respond to its patient, loving appeal to the voice enshrined in our Constitution. Because we should all be proud that in our great multicultural society we have the oldest, enduring culture in the world, ‘ he continued.
The Uluru Statement, an agreement reached by 250 Aboriginal representatives, provides a roadmap for the recognition of Aboriginal peoples in the Australian Constitution, calling for an Aboriginal voice to parliament.
During the campaign, Mr Albanese reaffirmed his previous commitment to delivering Aboriginal voices in parliament and said Australia’s history did not begin in 1788 should be recognised in the constitution.
But he rejected proposals to make it the third chamber of parliament, saying the body would allow Aboriginal people to have a say on policies affecting health, education and housing.
In his victory speech, the prime minister-elect told the packed room that Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney would be the government’s Indigenous Affairs minister.
Ms Burnie succeeds Coalition Australian Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt, who lost his Haslak seat in Western Australia.
Linda Burney will become Anthony Albanese’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs. source: AAP
A plan to raise wages and address the cost of living
In his campaign speech, Albanese said he wanted “an economy that works for the people, not the other way around.”
“We can work together with businesses and unions to increase productivity and increase wages and profits,” he said.
Labour leader Anthony Albanese said his government aimed to “respect each and every one of you” despite how people voted. source: Associated Press / Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
The Labor leader has promised to hold a full employment summit if elected to find ways to get wages moving.
This would include raising the minimum wage by 5.5 per cent to keep up with inflation – if this is backed by the Fair Work Commission.
He also pledged to put more women in employment by making childcare subsidies universal. Under the plan, the maximum child care subsidy will be increased from 85% to 90%, and the annual payment cap will be removed. Mr Albanese claimed the policy would make childcare cheaper for 96 per cent of households.
“We can work together to make equal opportunities for women a national economic and social priority,” he said after his victory.
Plans to strengthen universal health care
Health care has been a key focus of Labour’s campaign for fringe seats, with Mr Albanese promising “enhancing universal health care through Medicare” in his victory speech.
Labour leader announced offering families an alternative to busy hospital emergency departments.
The clinics — known as Medicare Urgent Care Clinics — will treat patients who need urgent medical care, including broken bones, minor burns and stitched wounds, to free up crowded emergency departments.
They will be located in GP clinics and community health centers across the country and will cost more than $135 million over four years.
Families will be able to get the care they need without long wait times, Mr Albanese said.
In the final week of the campaign, Labour also pledged to invest $970 million to boost primary health care, including a $750 million “Strengthening Medicare” fund from 2023-24, as well as funds to upgrade local GP clinics. $220 million grant program.
Labor says the new funding will reduce pressure on public hospitals by improving patients’ access to GPs and making the management of complex and chronic health conditions simpler and more affordable.
Mr Albanese also committed to forming a working group chaired by the Minister of Health to consult with all healthcare stakeholders on the new primary health care strategy, including the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Rural Australia and Telemedicine, Consumer Health Forum and National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organization.
Mr Albanese also pledged to “address the aged care crisis” in his victory speech, after in his Budget Reply speech earlier this year.
Labor wants the positions to be filled by locals, but says Australia must recruit more overseas doctors and nurses as a “stop solution” in the short term.
Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption
Finally, Mr. Albanese has pledged to legislate a national anti-corruption commission by the end of this year.
The prime minister-elect said there would be scope for public hearings, and it would be up to the body when they would be held, while retrospective powers would also be a matter for the body to decide.