JAMES ROYCE WRITES — After one of the longest election campaigns in national history, fittingly concluded with a week-long results-counting cliff hanger, Australia is welcoming back Malcolm Turnbull as its 29th prime minister.
Despite running both a widely criticized and altogether lackluster campaign, Turnbull and his Coalition successfully scraped back into Canberra by snatching 74 of the 76 seats needed for a majority government.
“This is a great day today,” the PM said. “It’s a great day to thank the Australian people for the decision they have taken in this election and to commit to them anew our absolutely unrelenting determination to ensure that this Parliament delivers good government, wise legislation and builds on the strengths of our economy to ensure that truly our greatest days are ahead of us.”
Pleasing those that voted against him, Turnbull also said he would work with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in the almost perfectly split Parliament to ensure the nation’s business gets done.
Yet, in the same speech celebrating his election win, Turnbull admitted that he’d be unable to deliver on a primary election promise. The prime minister said it would likely be impossible to maintain a “strong, stable” government with the current and familiar cast of characters in the parliamentary frontbench. Maintaining the incumbent government isn’t the only thing that isn’t turning out quite as planned for Turnbull, and a shifting Parliament is only the first of what looks like many concessions the newly elected Prime Minister will have to make after leading the Coalition to only the tightest of victories.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many broader policy changes face the returning government as well. The budget, the marriage equality plebiscite, and superannuation are all likely to spark trouble in an already divided Parliament. The potential shockwave that may come as a result of these decisions is predicted to only be short-lived. But long-term global economic instability that may follow the Brexit referendum and a potentially devastating U.S. election could create serious, lingering trouble for the country and its leaders.
Yes, Turnbull should be celebrating his government’s win following a marathon election. But with a restive Parliament, pencil-thin majority, controversial policy decisions on the horizon and an uncertain global picture, it’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to get back to work if he has any hope of successfully navigating the tough road up ahead.