The left-of-center opposition has won Australia’s general election. The Labor Party’s victory Saturday ends almost a decade of conservative government.
In a triumphant speech to supporters in Sydney, Labor leader Anthony Albanese boldly promised action on global warming, indigenous rights and sluggish wage growth. He said he wanted to “promote unity and optimism, not fear and division.”
In his victory address, Albanese said Australia – which currently relies on coal for most of its electricity - has the opportunity to make fundamental changes.
"Together we can end the climate wars. Together we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower," Albanese said. "Together we can work in common interests with business and unions to drive productivity, lift wages and profits.”
From humble beginnings living with just his mother in state-subsidized housing, Albanese will be his country’s 31st prime minister. He said he hoped his journey would inspire “Australians to reach for the stars.”
It’s unclear if Labor will have enough seats to govern alone, or will need the support of independents and minor parties.
More than 17 million Australians were eligible to vote. It is estimated around a third did not support either of the two main parties. Analysts have said non-aligned lawmakers, many of whom are women who are seeking action on climate change and integrity in politics, could wield significant power in the new parliament.
Australia’s outgoing center-right coalition government suffered a humiliating defeat in the polls and Scott Morrison will step aside as leader.
He ended his speech to party election volunteers in Sydney saying he "looks ahead to victory" in the next election.
But today, it is the Australian Labor Party and its supporters who are celebrating a significant victory.