Thursday 14 December 2017

Australia's PM elect hits the ground – cycling

Abbott: got straight to work
Abbott: got straight to work

Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney

Tony Abbott, Australia's prime minister-elect, started his first day after his landslide election win with an early-morning cycle ride then started work on scrapping his country's carbon tax and toughening immigration laws.

Despite winning a huge majority in the lower house, Mr Abbott will face an unpredictable ride in the senate, or upper house, after Australia's unusual electoral system resulted in seats being picked up by tiny political groupings such as the Australian Sports Party and the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

Mr Abbott, a British-born fitness fanatic, followed an evening celebrating his election win by setting out on his weekly journey with friends slightly later than usual at 6.30am.

After completing a ride in north Sydney on his Australian-made Hillbrick bicycle, he went to his office in the city for a meeting with the leading civil servants and defence chiefs to discuss his plans to repeal the outgoing Labour government's carbon tax and mining tax and to bolster border security. "My team will hit the ground running," he said.

Mr Abbott's conservative Liberal-National coalition was expected to win almost 90 seats in the 150-seat lower house after Saturday's federal election. He will be sworn in as prime minister by the Governor-General within days.

Kevin Rudd, the outgoing prime minister, resigned as Labour leader on Saturday night after years of turmoil which left the party with 57 seats and a primary vote of 34pc – its lowest in more than a century.

But Mr Abbott will now have to secure the support of a ragtag group of new MPs from "micro-parties" in the senate, which the coalition does not control.

While the coalition's majority in the lower house allows it to form a government and its leader to become prime minister, its bills must still pass through the senate. The current counting for the senate suggests the coalition will have 33 seats, Labour 25, the Greens 10 and assorted others eight.


Australia's complex preferential voting system allows parties to "harvest" votes and do numerous deals with other tiny parties to swap their unused votes.

It often throws up surprises but has delivered more than usual at this election, in which voters frustrated by the major parties appeared willing to throw their ballots at new and minor ones; for Australians, skipping the ballot booth altogether is not an option because voting is compulsory. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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