Australia poll result divides the nation

Labor leader Bill Shorten (top left) and former PM Tony Abbott ( left) conceding defeat. Above: Prime Minister Scott Morrison arriving with wife Jenny and children Abbey and Lily, at the Federal Liberal Reception at the Sofitel-Wentworth hotel in Syd
Prime Minister Scott Morrison arriving with wife Jenny and children Abbey and Lily, at the Federal Liberal Reception at the Sofitel-Wentworth hotel in Sydney.PHOTOS: DPA, EPA-EFE
Labor leader Bill Shorten (top left) and former PM Tony Abbott ( left) conceding defeat. Above: Prime Minister Scott Morrison arriving with wife Jenny and children Abbey and Lily, at the Federal Liberal Reception at the Sofitel-Wentworth hotel in Syd
Labor leader Bill Shorten (above) and former PM Tony Abbott conceding defeat.PHOTOS: DPA, EPA-EFE
Labor leader Bill Shorten (top left) and former PM Tony Abbott ( left) conceding defeat. Above: Prime Minister Scott Morrison arriving with wife Jenny and children Abbey and Lily, at the Federal Liberal Reception at the Sofitel-Wentworth hotel in Syd
Labor leader Bill Shorten and former PM Tony Abbott (above) conceding defeat. PHOTOS: DPA, EPA-EFE

Coalition cheers victory but upset for voters looking to kinder environment policy

SYDNEY • The result of yesterday's election in Australia triggered rage and disgust for those hoping for a change of government deemed fairer and kinder to the environment.

Many took to social media yesterday to express disbelief in the opposition Labor Party's failure to win office after an election in which climate change was a major issue.

Voters in Queensland state were a major target of anger for their overwhelming support of the conservative Liberal/National coalition, which has faced intense criticism in Australia for its pro-mining and weak climate change policies.

Queensland is a major coal producer and also home to the Great Barrier Reef.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was criticised for running a deeply negative scare campaign against Labor leader Bill Shorten, saying his tax and climate plans would cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars.

"The people have spoken. Negative wins. #ausvote19," tweeted Mr Craig Reucassel, an Australian television and radio comedian.

"Queenland. When your Barrier Reef is dead, when your state is smashed by increasing temperatures and more savage cyclones; when your workforce is suffering because the rest of the world has stopped buying your coal and gas ... We will remember #AUSVote19", tweeted @croydoncathy.

 
 
 
 

@gacd86 tweeted: "I watched Tony Abbott get elected PM, I'm watching Scott Morrison get elected PM... and you want me to still have hope in this country? Maybe one day. But definitely not tonight... or anytime soon."

Dr Zareh Ghazarian, a political science lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, told The Washington Post that the result was "a complete shock".

"We have completely expected an opposite thing for two years. Voters rejected the big picture. They have endorsed a government that has run on a very presidential campaign and on its management of the economy."

He believed that a Labor Party victory could have been viewed by some as a move towards greater attention on battling climate change, expanding social programmes and ending political instability that had led to six prime ministers in eight years.

Now, Mr Morrison's come-from-behind campaign may provide a further morale boost to conservative politicians in the United States and elsewhere in the Western World hostile to immigration and sceptical of renewable energy subsidies.

"Thank u Aus Thank u Qld! Labor lost because they asked ppl to choose between security, prosperity & the environment, we are smart enough to achieve them all, no 'us & them' sadly Shorten is myopic @ScottMorrisonMP you are a legend," Tweeted @Rojosi.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard tweeted support for Mr Bill Shorten: "A courageous concession speech from @billshortenmp. He and the entire @AustralianLabor team can be extremely proud of a campaign that put the ALP values of fairness and equality front and centre. I'm certainly proud of all of you."

Yesterday's election also saw the defeat of former prime minister Tony Abbott, infamous for once calling the science behind climate change "crap".

Mr Abbott, who was prime minister from 2013 to 2015, was one of the most vocal climate sceptics in Parliament and had held his seat of Warringah in Sydney's northern suburbs for a quarter of a century.

But amid a groundswell of activism on climate change among his affluent beach-side electorate and a strong challenge from independent candidate and former Olympic skier Zali Steggall, Mr Abbott was unable to hold on.

Mr Abbott admitted his defeat, less than three hours after polls closed.

"I can't say that it doesn't hurt to lose," he told supporters, but added: "I'd rather be a loser than a quitter.

"It's often said that all public lives end badly, but I'm certainly not going to let one bad day spoil 25 great years," he added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE WASHINGTON POST

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 19, 2019, with the headline 'Australia poll result divides the nation'. Print Edition | Subscribe