What Australia’s new PM will do next and why the outcome ‘sends a clear message on climate action’

The devastating wildfires of 2019-20 sparked an outpouring of support for climate action (AFP via Getty Images)

AustraliaPrime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese said he was committed to uniting the country as leader of the first Labor government in a decade.

In his election victory speech, he said: “Every parent wants more for the next generation than they had. My mother dreamed of a better life for me. And I hope my journey in life will inspire Australians to aim for the stars.

During the campaign, his Labor Party made a series of promises that he said would help voters do just that.

The party insists that increased spending will boost the country’s economic growth and has set out a vision to boost manufacturing in the country.

The Labor Party said it would work with businesses to invest in manufacturing and renewable energy to create more jobs in Australia, and pledged to create a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

To balance the budget, he identified cost-saving measures, such as cracking down on tax evasion by multinationals.

He said it would also force the Australian civil service to hire more civil servants instead of using consultants and contractors.

There was also a commitment to reduce funding pools for community and regional grant programs.

But Mr. Albanese has been particularly focused on improving the care sector, including childcare, elderly care and Medicare, the nation’s universal health insurance scheme.

Anthony Albanese vowed to unite the country (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Anthony Albanese vowed to unite the country (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Labor has promised to make it easier to see a doctor and set up 50 urgent care clinics. That would mean paying medical facilities to extend their hours of operation and range of treatments, to keep patients with minor injuries and illnesses away from emergency departments.

Childcare would be cheaper, allowing working parents to continue their jobs and careers. Party finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher admitted it could be a costly plan, but insisted it would spur economic growth by putting more parents back to work.

Labor also promised to match Scott Morrison’s 30% coalition childcare grant increase for families with two or more children, and proposed extending the grant to families with one child in child care. The party also said it would extend subsidies to the wealthiest families.

On housing, officials have pledged to build 20,000 social housing units over five years through a Housing Australia Future Fund.

But globally, the most stark difference between Labor and the coalition is in the party’s environmental credentials, and campaigners celebrated.

Mr Morrison, known for his support for the coal industry, once introduced a piece of coal in Parliament and refused to pledge to end the use of fossil fuels.

After the devastating bushfires from 2019-20, his government was accused by scientists to be “willfully negligent when it comes to climate», and not to protect biodiversity.

The purpose of the work is to cut greenhouse gas 43% by 2030, which business groups argue, but environmentalists say it should be closer to 60-75%.

Mr. Albanese wants to spend $20 billion to accelerate needed upgrades to the national power grid for renewables.

Pollution limits from the largest industrial emitters would also be tightened.

The party also pledged to end exports of live sheep – a trade that has shrunk and exposed as inflicting extreme suffering.

The new government will face intense scrutiny to deliver on all these promises.

After the election result was announced, also showing gains for the Greens and Independents, former Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said there was now a clear message on climate action from the ‘electorate.

Environmentalist Bill McKibben tweeted: “In a hotly contested climate election, Australia unseats the Prime Minister who once brought a lump of coal to parliament.

“A huge win for the Greens and for activists who have fought for decades – and it will matter to the world.”

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