Anthony Albanese returns to Canberra amid brewing political tensions
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese faces growing fury over the cost of living and Labor’s response to the Israel-Gaza conflict as he returns to Canberra following a whirlwind global diplomatic stint.
Mr Albanese’s return to parliament comes after tens of thousands gathered across major cities over the weekend, with large pro-Palestinian rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, and a pro-Israeli vigil held in Sydney to separately call for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages.
The protests came one week after the national bank doled out its 13th interest rate hike for Australian households since May 2022, leading to biting criticisms from opposing leaders who have laid into the prime minister for domestic inaction.
Speaking on Monday, independent Senator Jacqui Lambie said that Australians were growing increasingly “desperate” over unaffordable living costs arguing the Labor government had lost its footing.
“These guys in charge of the country – they said think would make it better and quite frankly we’re not seeing it at all. Completely lost the plot,” Senator Lambie argued.
“I watched their two-year-old behaviour late last week over the IR deals that David Pocock and I were able to put through and they were like kindergarten kids, they were like Bam-Bam off Flintstone.”
Mr Albanese’s return comes shortly after he struck a historic deal between Australia and a Pacific nation, announcing on Friday that Tuvalu citizens affected by climate change would be offered residency in Australia.
The new treaty agreement, described by Mr Albanese as “the most significant ever”, will see hundreds of climate-changed impacted people able to migrate to the country each year.
In exchange, Canberra will have the right of veto over other countries seeking to strike a security deal with Tuvalu.
Pacific negotiations follow Mr Albanese’s historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking the first trip to Beijing made by an Australian prime minister in seven years. This succeeded a stint to Washington DC where the prime minister talked cyber security and AUKUS with President Joe Biden.
This week, Mr Albanese will tackle a number of issues in the House of Representatives as it churns through leftover legislation before the end of the year, including Labor’s contentious workplace laws that were split in the Senate last week.
On Thursday, crossbench senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie brought on a vote to split off the non-contentious elements of the government’s proposed IR legislation.
With the bills passed, they will now be brought on for a vote in the House of Representatives, forcing the government to either split up its omnibus bill or vote against elements of its own proposed legislation.