Australia now has its sixth prime minister in a decade, with the ruling Liberal Party/National coalition ousting Malcolm Turnbull last week.
New PM Scott Morrison will have to boost the government’s sagging popular support in advance of parliamentary elections, which must be held by May of next year. And it won’t be easy, with recent polls showing the Labor Party running 10 percentage points ahead and its leader Julie Bishop the first choice of voters to be the next Australian PM.
Political upheaval has pushed the Australian dollar to its lowest point in two years at 73.5 US cents. The currency has also struggled on concerns about how US trade protectionism will affect China, Australia’s largest trading partner. China accounted for 24 percent of the country’s total imports plus exports in 2017, and trade has grown at a compound annual rate of 12.1 percent since 2007.
Australia has also been rocked by an energy crisis. A roughly 50 percent increase in exports of LNG over the past two years has soaked up supplies of natural gas, pushing up prices as well as wholesale electricity rates. Ongoing retirements of aging coal-fired power plants and subsidies for wind and solar generation have raised rates further.
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