Election Interpreter 2016
Well, it seems the initial foreign media coverage of the Australian election has picked up on the country's general feeling: the campaign is going to be long, big on rhetoric and so far has contained nothing really new.
First, The Wall Street Journal put the election announcement in the context of regional political dynamics. The paper also raised the spectre of the damage that revolving political leadership can cause:
As the boom unwound, however, Australian leaders on both sides of the political aisle have struggled to stay on the good side of voters and detractors in their own parties. Between 1975 and 2007, the average tenure of an Australian prime minister was nearly eight years. Lately, it is less than two years—including five prime ministers since 2010.
Other countries in the region have grappled with political instability. In Japan, for example, Shinzo Abe in 2012 became the nation’s 17th prime minister in 25 years. The effect of that instability was corrosive to Japan’s economy, its alliance with the U.S. and to the country’s global standing.
This point was also made by BBC New York correspondent and long-time Australia watcher Nick Bryant on The Interpreter earlier this week ('Let's Hope the Next PM Stays the Distance').
A report from Bloomberg pointed out that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is in a similar position to Prime Minister Turnbull in terms of how each is seen by members of their own party:
Both Shorten and Turnbull are fighting their first election campaigns as party leaders and will be seeking to cement their authority. Labor’s last stint in office, from 2007 to 2013, was tumultuous as the leadership switched from Kevin Rudd to his deputy Julia Gillard and back again. Shorten was seen as a kingmaker amid the chaos, flipping his allegiance between the two before becoming party leader after Labor lost the 2013 election.
The New York Times noted in its coverage one of the likely dominant themes in the election, that of the difference between the party leaders:
Mr. Shorten, at a news conference on Sunday in Tasmania, Australia's southernmost state, said Labor represented a 'fairer Australia.' He is likely to use the campaign to highlight the contrast between his own past as a union organizer and Mr. Turnbull's as an investment banker and highly paid lawyer.
Writing in the Jakarta Post, longtime Australian diplomat Richard Woolcott laid out 14 priorities for the next Australian government in terms of its international outlook. Here are a few:
The first priority in updating Australian trade and security policy is to focus on Asia and the South West Pacific Regions. In what is now generally called the Asian century we should focus on our own region...
...Fifthly, and importantly, in readjusting the main focus of Australian policies, we should withdraw our forces from Iraq and Syria. Our presence in the Middle East will not contribute meaningfully to defeating ISIS or to securing stable, democratic, corruption-free governments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
...Thirteenth, in the years ahead Australia should also reopen itself to large-scale immigration to stimulate our culture evolution and economic growth and prosperity.