How did the rest of the world view yesterday’s whirlwind events?
The UK’s Guardian seems to think Australian is on a rainbow rollercoaster, with the hardest times for Gillard still ahead, reporting “Australian prime minister Julia Gillard may have been given an opportunity to govern but it will not be easy. Her minority government has already been dubbed the ‘rainbow coalition’ …”
The Guardian’s Alison Rouke also noted how difficult it will be for Gillard to govern a minority government, saying:
“Julia Gillard faces the challenge of holding together Australia’s first minority Labor government in nearly 70 years after she won the support yesterday of two independent MPs to become the country’s first elected female prime minister.”
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Jonathan Watts went on to examine how Bob Brown’s Greens played a vital role in helping Labor get over the line, suggesting that voter anger at the government’s environmental plans was a key factor.
“Like the UK and Germany, a surge in popularity has given the environmental movement an unprecedented parliamentary presence in Australia this year, prompting suggestions that electorates are punishing mainstream parties for failing to act decisively on climate change,” writes Watts in The Guardian.
Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, a key theme was Labor’s success at keeping Australia from being too badly damaged by the global recession.
“During the campaign Ms Gillard and her senior ministers promoted Labor’s economic credentials. Australia was one of the few industrialised countries to escape a recession during the global slowdown. Last year, Australia’s gross domestic product grew by a relatively robust 3.3 percent, and the unemployment rate was just 5.3 percent in July, almost half that of the United States.”
The paper also saw the Independents and Greens as “lawmakers” who held unprecedented power, saying:
“Prime Minister Julia Gillard cleared another hurdle on Thursday in her bid to break Australia’s first parliamentary deadlock in 70 years, winning the tentative support of an independent legislator from Tasmania”
Before going on to add:
“According to most analysts, Thursday’s announcement gave Ms Gillard a slight advantage over her conservative rival, Tony Abbott. The pair have been scrambling to enlist the support of five independent or minor party lawmakers since the national election on Aug 21 failed to deliver a parliamentary majority to either candidate.”
The Huffington Post saw the “lawmakers” as historic too, noting the rarity of a minority government in Australia: “Gillard managed Tuesday to persuade sufficient independent lawmakers to support her centre-left Labor Party to form the first minority government in the House of Representatives in 67 years.”
The Boston Globe focused on Australian and US relations: “President Barack Obama has congratulated Julia Gillard on becoming Australia’s newest prime minister and on forming a government after a 17-day deadlock.”
Back in the UK with the Daily Mail, who tapped into the national feeling that Rob Oakeshott just about killed the nation with his keeping-us-on-tenterhooks ramble, reporting:
“That put Labor one seat ahead and the future of the country then hung on what Mr Oakeshott had to say. He did not come straight to the point, leaving the country in suspense until the end of a 15-minute speech before he announced his decision to add his support to the Labor Party.”
The Telegraph (UK) chose to focus on the precarious nature of Gillard’s government should any independent change their mind, noting that “…the defection of just one MP could bring down her administration, leaving her hostage to by elections and the whims of politicians.”
Moreover, The Telegraph’s Mark Chipperfield is loving the fact that Australia is now being run by a “Pom”, saying “the result, which returns the girl who left Barry in South Wales with her parents at the age of four as a £10 Pom, comes some 17 days after Australians went to the poll and 10 weeks after she ousted the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a coup.”
At the Daily Mirror the focus is on the contentious mining tax and carbon pollution, which they see as some of Labor’s legislative priorities:
“It also means Ms Gillard can continue with her plans to introduce a 30% tax on iron ore and coal miners’ burgeoning profits and make Australia’s biggest polluters pay for carbon gas emissions.”
Despite all this the question of whether or not the Gillard government has a “mandate” — quick, someone throw some coins into the swear jar — is still being asked, with CNN noting on its website:
“Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who replaced Kevin Rudd as leader of the center-left Labor Party in June, now has the votes to form a government, but lacks a mandate.”