Challenges await the winner


Turnbull or Shorten, whoever the prime minister is after 2 July will have their work cut out for them

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At Labor’s recent election launch, it was good to see former Prime Minister Julia Gillard looking happy and relaxed. When last seen with her political hat on, she was showing the strains of keeping the party together while holding down those Prime Ministerial responsibilities. Now, just under three years out of that job, she looks happy and refreshed.

One suspects that whoever wins the next election will age quickly in their tenure.

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By all accounts, the Australian economy is struggling. While not in any sharp decline, it seems to be on a treadmill, working hard to stay where it is. That will be the first challenge for the new PM: What should be done to pick up economic pace?

The Brexit- EU-Australia ramifications will play out in the term of the next government. Australia has been slow in moving away from its dependence on China. We need more diversified engagement with nations such as India and other parts of Asia (in areas where we have expertise such as financial services and health care), or we will leave ourselves vulnerable to the collective fallout which will reach across to us via China.

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Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles with guests at Gala Labor Party Fundraising and Networking dinner organised by iPEAL

While the Reserve Bank can decrease interest rates, there is only so much it can do. Governments can slash expenses or increase taxes. While the Coalition has form on decreasing expenses by slashing benefits, the Labor Party has in the past not shied away from increasing taxes. The migrant voter will need to know that there will be changes that will affect their hip pocket, whichever way they go at the ballot box.

In the case that we have a number of politicians not affiliated to any major party, post-election, it will need all the skills of the new Prime Minister to drive policy forward. Politicians can tend to be myopic in their views, and often the bigger picture gets lost in the drive to retain higher ground over opponents in the 24/7 news cycle. While diversity in parliament is healthy for any democracy, it does dilute the power of the party which emerges as the majority winner.

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Liberal Fundraiser at Brothers Banquet, Melbourne

Deals will need to be done to get parts of the new legislation across the line; one can expect fiery clashes between the smaller and the larger players post-election. For those interested in politics, the next three years will be anything but dull.

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It’s also been good to see the number of Indian-origin candidates in the election fray. While most of them are standing as independents, some have found favour with the major parties. It’s a matter of concern though that the two major parties have mainly endorsed Indian-origin candidates in seats where they have limited chances of winning. Sadly, resource allocation from party headquarters is therefore meagre. This needs to change.

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Over time it will be good to see an Indian-origin candidate who has a fighting chance of winning a place in Australian parliament. Till then we will see an increasing number of Indian-origin candidates standing as independents and, though they may have no chance of winning, they will influence the mainstream parties with their preference options. In constituencies where the margins to win are tight, this could leave a significant impact.