Turnbull: Australia's fifth PM in five years
Australia has a new prime minister – again. Malcolm Turnbull became the country’s 29th leader this week.
Australia has a new prime minister again. Malcolm Turnbull became the country's 29th leader this week when he deposed Tony Abbott as the head of the ruling centre-right Liberal Party in a sudden coup. Turnbull, considered a centrist, defeated the more right-wing premier by 54 votes to 44. Abbott had replaced Turnbull as Liberal leader in 2009 when the party was in opposition. The previous Labor government swapped leaders twice between 2010 and 2013. Australia has now seen four prime minsters in just over two years, and five in five.
What the commentators said
The collapse in commodity prices and the Chinese slowdown form the toughest backdrop for the economy since the last recession in the early 1990s. As mining exports have slumped, overall investment has declined, while there is less and less scope for indebted consumers, sustained by a housing bubble, to drive growth. Abbott's response was an austerity drive that he had not prepared people for and was then unable to implement anyway because he didn't negotiate effectively with the senators holding the balance of power in the Upper House, said Smyth.
Public debt to GDP is just 29%, said the FT, so the priority should be to invest in activities that could rebalance the economy and "inject more competition into the service sector". That will mean taking on the powerful unions who helped bring down a previous Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, said The Times. "There's no guarantee that Australia's prime ministerial merry-go-round is over."