CHAOS DOWN UNDER

Written by Emily Eng

Last Friday, Scott Morrison took helm over Liberal Party leadership as the new Prime Minister of Australia, marking the end of a week of chaos. It has been a civil war of sorts within the party, with Morrison taking over the reigns from incumbent leader Malcolm Turnbull in a party-room vote on Friday. Turnbull himself had decided to stand away from the contest as he said he would resign from parliament soon. This left the challenge to hard-right MP Peter Dutton who was the key driver behind the unseating of Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and Morrison. While Bishop was eliminated in the first round, Dutton and Morrison fought a close run-off, with Morrison winning by a mere 5 votes over his competitor (it was 45-40), suggesting that the party remains largely split.

In his address to Australians before being sworn in, Morrison played down the possibility of an early election, which he has to call by May 2019, promising to immediately prioritise the severe  drought that has swept across the east side of Australia.

So what?

Before his election, Morrison was treasurer in the Liberal Party, and known most largely for his tough stance on asylum seekers, especially his failure to act on the best interests of asylum seeker children in detention. While he identifies as a devout Christian, many have found his ways mind-bogglingly un-Christian. Many condemned his lack of empathy when he criticised the government for funding the flights of asylum seekers to Sydney to attend funerals following a boat disaster in 2010 where 48 perished.

However, Morrison could be the change that Australia needs- Turnbull had long struggled to appeal to conservative voters, while Dutton was expected to pull Australian politics to the far right, threatening to withdraw Australia from the Paris climate agreement and being extremely vocal about slashing migrant intake.

Morrison stands as the 5th Prime Minister Australia has had in 5 years, with no Prime Minister being able to serve a full term since 2007.

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