Australia went through its federal election on 7th of September 2013 and the nation cast their votes for electing their candidates for the next three years. In Australia federal and state elections are held separately and term of an elected federal government is three years. States and territories have four year terms (except Queensland with three year term). Federal government has a total of 150 members of parliament.
It was my first chance of viewing the campaign and polling in Australia since my arrival to Australia. There are two very interesting facts about the electoral procedure in Australia. First thing is that it is mandatory for all Australian citizens above the age of 18 to cast their votes. If someone doesn’t turn up for casting the vote, except medical emergency, he/she is fined for an amount of $55. Second interesting thing is that you just not vote for your favourite candidate, but you give your preferences for all the candidates contesting within a constituency. You put 1 against the name of your most favourite candidate and then keep numbering for all the candidates in the sequence of your preference. This helps in getting better opinion about the popularity of the contesting candidates and their respective parties. Like other developed countries party leaders of the Liberal Party and Australian Labor Party, two largest political parties in Australia, have live debates on the TV channels and explain their policies. They also answer questions raised by the senior journalists.
Till today results of 134 constituencies has been announced. According to the results the Coalition (led by the Liberal Party) have won 81 seats, Labor Party won 50 seats, Green have won just one and others have won 3 seats. As the Coalition has won more than 50% of the seats, they are going to form the next government. Leader of the Liberal Party Hon. Tony Abbott will take his oath as the new Australian Prime Minister. New government has to face challenges like unemployment, carbon tax, same-sex marriage and asylum seekers. However economic situation would require special attention by the newly elected government as the mining sector has been adversely affected due to the lack of proper planning and implementation of the carbon tax during the previous Labor Party government. Thousands of Australians lose their jobs. Due to the unnecessary increase in production costs, Australia is facing reduction in its exports. China is getting the full advantage of this situation and has emerged as the biggest exporter to Australia. Whereas Australia has to import lot more and as an exporter its market has significantly reduced.
Business community is very optimistic about the Liberal Party and it believes that the new government will put the things on the right path which will be helpful in the growth of local industries.
Sada-e-Shahid wishes the very best for Hon. Tony Abbott and his team and expects that the bew government will try its best to help the deserving skilled people in getting back to their jobs.