With the spread of COVID-19 largely contained in Australia, and vaccines beginning to be approved, the first glimpses of a possible end to the pandemic are now in sight. While the health crisis may be receding, the enormous effort needed to repair the damage inflicted on Australia’s economy has only just begun.
There are some positive signs. Last week it was revealed that even with Melbourne still in lockdown at the time, gross domestic product jumped by 3.3 per cent in the three months to the end of September. But with less than 40 per cent of the 360,000 full-time jobs lost between March and June this year having returned, there is a long way to go.
Such financial insecurity and uncertainty would normally present an opposition party a political opportunity to gain ground on the government. And yet in Canberra, Labor under the leadership of Anthony Albanese appears adrift. At a time when Australia is confronting uncharted waters, Labor is struggling to convey a unified message on a number of issues, not least of all the challenge of energy policy.
While Mr Albanese may have coveted the top job for years, he has struggled to portray himself as an alternative prime minister. As The Age’s chief political correspondent David Crowe wrote recently, his tactics and judgment are being widely questioned by caucus members. “The disappointment with his leadership is palpable.”