As Australia welcomes in a Labor Party government for the first time in nearly a decade, the question arises as to whether there will be more change than continuity in Australia’s international and security policy, as well as its domestic affairs. When it comes to national security, there appears little to differentiate the incoming center-left Labor government led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese from the outgoing conservative Liberal-National Coalition government led by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
But several issues featuring prominently during the campaign, including climate change and issues of identity, can be expected to shape foreign and defense policy for the coming term and beyond in ways that could lead to significant change.
During the campaign, the coalition sought to present the Labor Party as weak on national security, but Albanese stuck closely to Morrison’s positions in part to keep national security from taking center stage. In fact, emphasizing the issue of national security backfired on Morrison when news of the Solomon Islands signing a security pact with China caught the government by surprise just weeks before the election. Despite Morrison’s rhetoric of having bolstered Australia’s defense capabilities and raised its Pacific Islands profile, Australia appears to have been blindsided by deft Chinese diplomacy.