Australia

100 days since Anthony Albanese won the election, here’s what he has and hasn’t delivered on

We all live the best version of our lives on Instagram, and if the prime minister’s profile is anything to go by, the carefully curated posts from the past 100 days tell the story of a heroic effort to deliver on the victory handed to him by the people of Australia.
Anthony Albanese’s dog Toto features prominently, alongside glossy advertorials portraying a man of the people.

But there’s the serious stuff too; confirming a royal commission into robodebt, backing for Ukraine against Russia, announcing an inquiry into the secret Morrison ministerial self-appointments, detailing a pitch for a referendum on Indigenous recognition and sharing his hopes for the skills summit that looms in the days ahead.

He’s certainly been busy, jetting across the nation and the globe to the Torres Strait and the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji, as well as being on the ground in war-torn Ukraine. He bumped elbows with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and met with key international allies in Madrid and Tokyo.

But away from the performative arts of social media, just like all of us, there are issues ahead that are less palatable to post.

Achieving the promised bump in the national pay packet remains a challenging topic as the uncoupling of wage growth and employment rate continues to confound economists. The skills summit will bring political, business and union interests together but there’s no guarantee that engagement will ensure that workers see a wage rise.
The worker shortages that continue to choke the economy span critical sectors like health, aged care and childcare, as well as hospitality. Some pubs are already closing their doors a couple of days a week, so while , there are some businesses that have had to shut off the taps intermittently while they wait for job applications to roll in.

Anthony Albanese (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv in July. Source: ABACA / ABACA/PA

With such low unemployment, the migration system is in the spotlight and may hold the key to recharging the growth agenda but even is a mammoth task.

Selling a bigger Australia also opens the government up to political attack.

While the covert takeover of numerous ministries by the former prime minister Scott Morrison is now being sent to an independent inquiry by a former High Court Judge Virginia Bell, the continued attacks from Mr Albanese have opened up a seemingly fruitful line of attack for the Opposition, accusing Labor of conducting a witch hunt and concentrating on the past.

The draft question for a referendum on a Voice to Parliament continues to be fraught and nationally sensitive. The prime minister has declared this his most important priority but it’s still an idea being debated with no date for when a vote might be held.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese walking with a group of people outside

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Garma Festival in northeast Arnhem Land in July, where he put forward a proposed wording for a referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Source: AAP / AARON BUNCH

While there were many smiles and welcomes when Mr Albanese , there’s also the task of ensuring the many different Aboriginal and Torres Islander nations feel reflected in the final design.

As it stands now, there’s a continued push in the Torres Strait for the achievement of Treaty concurrently.

There are some community leaders so fed up with a lack of investment in their remote island communities that they are engaging with Chinese investors. Even talking about whether substandard and unreliable communications infrastructure – which can be a life and death matter if someone needs to be medevacked off an island – means they would engage on Huawei providing a better service.

None of this would be able to happen without a sign-off from the Foreign Investment Review Board, which would be highly unlikely to be forthcoming.

But as Mr Albanese faces the immediate domestic cost of living pressures and the looming end of the cut to fuel excise, the broader diplomatic ructions in the region loom large.

In Darwin, the noise of jet engines is puncturing the tropical sweat, as massive international defence war games known as Pitch Black roar to life for weeks of airborne muscle flexing.

When the federal budget is handed down in October there will likely be some unexpected resources windfalls and moves to cut expenditure.
The budget will inevitably include some pain, and with it, the knowledge that governing requires tough decisions and rarely pleases everyone.

Anna Henderson is SBS World News’s chief political correspondent.

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