Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time.
After starting 2023 on a high, the prime minister has ended the year on less favourable terms. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

PM will be hoping there’s time to reset going into 2024

Andrew Brown December 9, 2023

The new year can’t come soon enough for Anthony Albanese.

As the parliamentary year comes to a close, the prime minister will be hoping the summer break will also deliver a break from the political hits.

The federal government has been coming under fire for its handling of the aftermath of the High Court’s decision ruling indefinite immigration detention was unlawful.

While it had no choice in freeing the almost 150 detainees, it was attacked by the opposition over laws that were raced through parliament to deal with the decision, coupled with the arrest of five people freed from detention.

The opposition attacks appear to have been working, with the Labor government sinking to its lowest approval ratings since Labor won the May 2022 election.

Coupled with the defeat of the voice referendum, the handling of the Qatar Airways controversy and new data showing Australia being in a per-capita recession, the second half of 2023 has been bumpy for the government.

But Mr Albanese appears confident of political success, touting rising wages and cost of living relief measures as some of the key achievements of the year.

“We have, since we came into office, seen the creation of at least 624,000 new jobs … That is more jobs created than in any new government in Australia’s history, and we’re only halfway through,” he told parliament.

“We have the first budget surplus in 15 years, turning a $78 billion deficit under (the coalition) into a $22 billion surplus.”

The prime minister also used the final question time for the year on Thursday to spruik achievements including the Housing Australia Future Fund, implementing a national anti-corruption commission, climate change measures, and cheaper medicine and child care.

Coalition Leader Peter Dutton will hope that cost of living concerns remain front of mind for voters going into 2024.

While Mr Dutton warned his colleagues the government would recalibrate during the summer break, the opposition leader has pledged that 2024 would be a significant year.

While an early election might be unlikely, voters could go to the polls to decide the next government from August at the earliest – should the prime minister choose to fire the starting gun before his full term is up.

But a key test will emerge for the government when a by-election is held in the Victorian seat of Dunkley, following the death of much-loved Labor MP Peta Murphy.

Mr Albanese insists his government has more to do during its first term and will hope it can put the issues of 2023 behind it when parliament returns in February.