By Dr Nina Markovic-Khaze
On 21 May 2022, Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese decisively won the Australian Federal election to become the 31st Prime Minister of Australia.
Saved from the Australian Government’s forced adoption laws by his mother in the early 1960s, Anthony Albanese’s electoral victory is being celebrated by Australia’s multicultural communities. New Australian Prime Minister’s election is a win for multicultural Australia as his surname is the first non-Anglo-Celtic surname of any Australian PM.
Australia’s multicultural communities are cautiously celebrating Albanese’s electoral victory as the historic win for multicultural Australia. It is the first time in more than 120 years (since the Commonwealth was inaugurated in 1901) that Australian leader’s surname did not come from Anglo-Celtic background. It is an Italian surname, which was even used for mockery by the outgoing Coalition Government, the same one which infamously booted out world No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic from Australia in January 2022. On the day of Novak Djokovic’s birthday (22 May) it became clear that the Australian Labor Party is likely to hold majority seats in the Lower House, ending nine years of conservative rule in Australia.
Albanese’s Italian connection: saved by the brave mother from monstrous government policies
Australia’s new Prime Minister, a long-lost son of Pugliese seafarer, rose to the nation’s highest office from humble beginnings. His late mother, Maryanne Ellery (Maryanne Therese Albanese), met Carlo Albanese from Barletta (near Bari in southern Italy) during her first and only overseas trip in 1962 and fell pregnant outside wedlock. Coming from a conservative Catholic family and faced with Carlo’s rejection (who confessed that he was betrothed to another woman back home in Italy), Maryanne bought herself an engagement and a wedding ring and told her family that her “newly wedded” husband had tragically died in a car accident forcing her to return to Australia alone. Worse than facing her family’s potential disappointment, an unmarried woman in Australia would have had in the early 1960s her child forcibly taken away for adoption under the Government’s policies. Coincidentally, the federal government under Albanese’s Labor predecessor Prime Minister Julia Gillard publicly apologized for the first time in March 2013 to all “people affected by forced adoption or removal policies and practices”. This move came in response to a Senate inquiry that documented disheartening experiences by unwed Australian mothers in post-World War II Australia, with more than 150,000 babies forcibly taken by the government for adoption between 1951 and 1975 alone.
New page on “climate wars” in Australia
In his victory speech on the election eve, Prime Minister-elect and a veteran politician of 26 years promised to try to end “climate wars” in Australia. Unlike in the European Union (EU), where there is a broad consensus among EU leaders about the importance of long-term investment into renewable energy, in Australia debates have been fierce and uneven on this front. Following the announcement of Albanese’s election victory, The Guardian reported that the Australian electorate dumped Scott Morrison because it was “fed up with inaction on emissions and eager for change”. The biggest winners of this year’s Australian elections, apart from Labor, were the independent candidates (the so-called Teal movement) and the Green Party. Climate change action is likely to be the biggest challenge for the new government under Anthony Albanese, from whom voters expect a lot after years of isolation from the rest of the world amid long closure of Australia’s borders (from March 2020 until December 2021).
Although the fate of Djokovic’s participation in the Australian Open 2023 is far from certain (since he was given a three-year visa ban by now booted out former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government), Serbian voters in Australia are waiting for the full formation of the new government to make representation for their beloved tennis player to be allowed back into Australia, hassle-free.
Dr Nina Markovic Khaze is the Director of Communications at Solve Law, Manly, NSW, and President of the European Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand (ACT/NSW branch). She obtained PhD in Political Science from the Australian National University in European Union studies, and master’s degrees in International Relations and Diplomacy. Dr Markovic Khaze was working as asessional lecturer at UNSW and Macquarie University in Sydney from 2014 until 2021, teaching international relations, security studies and diplomatic history of great powers. Prior to joining academia, she was a senior parliamentary and public servant in Canberra. Nina also works for SBS Serbian radio program as a political analyst.