Our endorsement for the Australian general election


Australians go to the polls on Saturday to choose a new Parliament and to decide whether Liberal Malcolm Turnbull remains Primer Minister or Labor’s Bill Shorten moves into The Lodge. Even though Australia is a parliamentary democracy and voters choose Members of Parliament and Senators rather than a Prime Minister directly, our endorsement decision on which party or parties to support is based on who will end up being Prime Minister. We believe it is in the interests of Australia’s economy and political system to keep Malcolm Turnbull at the helm of government and thus vote for the Liberal-National Coalition across Australia.

On the economic front, Mr. Turnbull’s and the Coalition’s plan is the right, small-l economic liberal program to keep Australia’s economy growing and continue opening up markets and trade at a time when so many Western countries are turning to protectionism and isolationism. There is no doubt the Coalition under Mr. Turnbull will continue to support free-trade agreements that are vital to keep Australia competitive and the Western world open, whereas the Labor and Green programs would shut the door to new trade opportunities and reconsider Australia’s commitment to recently negotiated trade deals.

On the political front, Australia needs a strong political system with a viable social democratic alternative (whether that is Labor or the Greens) and an equally strong center-right liberal group. During Tony Abbott’s time as leader of the Liberal Party, Australia’s political system –and the Liberal Party itself– moved too far to the right, losing that balance. Since Mr. Turnbull took over as Liberal leader and Prime Minister, the rebalancing back to the center has begun. It is true that the rebalancing has not been as fast as many of us would have liked. But the worst thing that could happen to all those who believe in a political system moving around the center ground would be a defeat for the only leader that can move the Liberal Party back to the small-l  liberal center-right it once occupied.

Do we agree with all the components of the Coalition’s program? No, we do not. We do not like the asylum-seeker policy, which is lacking in the openness and compassion we expect for those who are fleeing from persecution and poverty, or for those who are looking for a better life. However, we fail to see much difference from the Labor Party on this subject. A Labor government would all but certain continue with the current approach to asylum seekers. On the environment, we also find the current Coalition approach too weak in facing the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, but again, we are not confident Labor would be much different and the Greens have shown more shades of red than green.     

In this election, we believe Australians have a unique opportunity to give a genuine, centrist liberal leader a chance to reshape his party and the country. We understand Mr. Turnbull’s inability to move too fast in the face of opposition from the right wing of his own party, but without a popular mandate of his own, he lacked the electoral strength to move faster and deeper on a liberal direction. Were Mr. Turnbull to return to government with a strong mandate of his own making, he would begin a process of moving his party and Australian politics back to the liberal center.

Do Australians really want to thwart that process now? Do they want the Liberal Party to move back to the far right under an Abbott-like leader? Do they want to punish the man the vast majority of the country have always wanted as PM just because he didn’t go fast enough in just a few months at the helm?  

We hope the answer to all these questions is “no.” And that’s why we strongly support a Malcolm Turnbull re-election as Prime Minister of Australia, to change politics for good in the coming years. If we had a vote on Saturday’s election, we would give our first preferences to the Coalition all across the country.