Left, right, centre-left and centre-right have long been among the favoured terms to describe where people, and parties, sit on the political spectrum. To the extent these categories are still relevant, did Australia just collectively shift to the left at the 2022 federal election?

Frank Bongiorno writes that, with so many independents entering the parliament, and the very strong showing from the Greens, Australia will have its most progressive parliament for many years. In fact, “It is perhaps the most significant since the combined momentum of the elections of 1969 and 1972 that brought the Whitlam government to office”.

With Prime Minister Anthony Albanese elected on a “small target” strategy, it might be tempting to think this electoral result doesn’t mean much at all. But, says Bongiorno, as the campaign wore on, Albanese’s comments and policies sounded more in tune with Labor Party DNA: he stood up to widespread bullying over his plan to give the lowest-paid workers a wage rise, he talked of universal provision of childcare, and reaffirmed his commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

On the other side of politics, the Liberal Party is depleted and the Coalition may fall apart. Peter Dutton is favoured to become opposition leader, “a strange but unavoidable choice for a party that needs both to soften its image and change its substance to have any hope of avoiding many years in the wilderness”, says Bongiorno.

Meanwhile, we’re heading into the third week of our 2022 donations campaign. To all those who have given so far, thank you. If you haven’t yet, please support The Conversation’s vital work with a donation and join the thousands of civic-minded people who are already helping us produce better journalism. If you can, please donate today.

Amanda Dunn

Section Editor: Politics + Society

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