By Elliot Colburn
Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, had announced a Federal Election on August 21st. The ALP (Australian Labour Party) unceremoniously ousted its former PM, Kevin Rudd, and replaced him with the somewhat uninspiring Julia Gillard; its popularity has taken a severe blow. The first poll after the election was called shows the ALP on 52% compared to 70% a month ago, and the opposing Liberal Party and coalition parties on 48%. The question many people are asking is if the increasingly unpopular Julia Gillard can hold onto her position as Australia’s first Sheila.
The ALP has been praised for the way it handled the economic downturn, which didn’t hit Australia nearly as badly as it hit Europe and the USA. Then again, they have the shadow of Kevin “The Liar” Rudd hanging over their party. There is almost no doubt that Gillard will, at the very least, hold onto her Melbourne Suburban seat of Lalor, where she holds nearly a 30,000 strong majority.
Neither the ALP nor Liberal Party seems incredibly popular; the polls prove the narrow public opinion. We saw a similar result in the UK in the recent General Election; the polls were extremely close in the beginning of the election campaign, and we resulted in a coalition, which Australia normally results in. The difference is that there is no strong voice of opposition in Australia. The Liberal Party has no strong arguments against the ALP; in fact neither party has announced all their policies! The Liberal Party have only been out of office since 2007, when the ALP came to power, taking over from the Liberals who had been in power for 11 years. The big issue is immigration. Australia’s big problem is immigration. In recent years, immigrants from south Asia have sailed themselves onto the shores of Australia, angering many Australians and sparking calls for tough immigration controls of the type the Liberals imposed into the last government. However, Gillard’s new immigration measures have proved popular amongst the Australian people, and have been tougher than any ALP government has installed previously.
In reality, it appears Julia Gillard and the ALP will hold onto government in Australia as a result of several factors; the ALP handling of the economic crisis, its too soon after the Liberals left power, Gillard’s immigration policy is proving popular and Gillard hasn’t had long to prove herself to the Australian people. It seems Australia’s first Sheila has got a few more years before she’s sent packing!