Labor’s First Year in Government: Key Moments and Challenges Ahead
A year ago, Anthony Albanese claimed victory for the Labor Party in the federal election, marking the first change of government since 2013. Since then, the government has been working to implement its key election promises, including legislative changes and increased focus on international diplomacy. However, the past year has not been without its challenges, and the next 12 months may prove even more difficult. Here are some of the key moments from Labor’s first year in government and the challenges ahead.
In addition to legislative changes, the government has spent much of its first year on the global stage. Prime Minister Albanese and his senior team have made official visits to Japan, Indonesia, Europe, India, and the Pacific, among other destinations. The government’s increased presence in the Pacific aligns with its election promise to boost foreign aid and foster relationships to counter China’s rising influence in the region. The prime minister has also met with China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali and flagged his intention to visit Beijing at the invitation of the Chinese government. Thawing relations with China have seen some early signs of progress, with tariffs on Australian barley and wine potentially being lifted.
Policies Through Parliament
At home, the government has sought to legislate as many of its election commitments as possible. It has successfully legislated its emissions reductions targets of 43% by 2030 and net zero by 2050, as well as tightening the safeguard mechanism that imposes emissions limits on the country’s largest-polluting facilities. Legislation to establish the new National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has also passed, with the NACC set to start from July 1. Changes to child care and plans to gradually introduce more generous Paid Parental Leave have also passed.
The past year has not been without its challenges, and the next 12 months may prove even more difficult. Rising inflation, interest rates, and cost-of-living pressures continue to hurt the bank balances of millions of Australians, and the government’s intervention in the energy market and targeted relief in the latest budget may not be enough. With a national housing crisis underway, the government is still facing an uphill battle on its centrepiece housing policy, with the Greens and Coalition joining forces to stop it passing in the Senate. The biggest item on the government’s agenda in the next year is the Voice to Parliament referendum, which will be held this year. It was another of the government’s central election commitments, and with the Coalition supporting the No campaign, each leader has staked a lot on the referendum’s outcome.
Labor’s first year in government has been marked by increased focus on international diplomacy and successful legislative changes. However, challenges such as rising inflation, interest rates, and cost-of-living pressures, as well as the housing crisis and the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum, may make the next 12 months more difficult. The government will need to continue to work hard to implement its election promises and address these challenges to maintain its slim majority in the lower house.