“Australians have the same priorities as Belgians: it’s sports before politics”

VRT's Eveline Masco is spending a year downunder and has discovered some unexpected similarities between Belgian and Australian politics. As the new Prime Minister Tony Abbott takes over Eveline now reports on Election Day Australian style.
AFP

We’ve been living in Australia for no longer than 8 months now, and we’ve had 3 prime ministers so far. At first sight, this quick shift of power resembles the Belgian political game at its best.

Yesterday, all Australian citizens were asked to cast their vote. And in true Australian style, that involves enjoying a sausage sizzle while queuing to the ballot box. As a local newspaper put it: “no sausages, no democracy.” The entire day, the word “sausage” was a trending topic on Twitter in Australia.

In the months leading to the federal elections, all polls predicted the ruling Labour Party’s wipe-out. After years of leadership fights within the party, the loss of Labour should not come as a surprise. In a last attempt to turn the tide, Labour sent Julia Gillard home and brought Kevin Rudd back to office in June. Rudd, elected prime minister in 2009 and pushed out of his seat by Gillard halfway through his 6 years term, tried to get the Labour Party united again. He did not quite succeed: Labour’s now suffered its lowest primary votes since the 1930’s.

So after Rudd I, Gillard and Rudd II, Australia now elected Liberal Tony Abbott as prime minister. Today, Abbott started his first day as the new prime minister in a lycra suit cycling around Sydney. Thus emphasising his image as an athletic bloke, known to be running around inside Parliament House wearing very, very short shorts.

A conservative and religious man, Abbott is opposed to gay marriage, calling it “the fashion of the day.” Interestingly enough, his sister is openly gay, which will undoubtedly lead to some very animated family get-togethers around the barbie.

Tony Abbott’s plan for his first 100 days as prime minister starts with his pledge to stop the boats with Indonesian refugees and repeal the carbon tax - if the Senate doesn’t block his plan.

But that’s enough politics for one weekend. Today, the newspapers devoted a special 13 page wrap to the election results. And 16 pages to the Australian Rules Football Finals. First things first.