As Australia’s economic challenges mount, the Albanian government is dodging political landmines all over the place

It’s little wonder so many in the Coalition weren’t too worried about losing last month’s federal election.

Some even joked they might now have time to play golf.

But there was more to it than just an urge for the occasional round of 18. Barely a week into governing, Labor’s frontbench is fast learning it’s not getting a honeymoon period.

If anything, this is as easy as it will get.

After almost a decade in the political wilderness, the tasks before Labor are mounting by the day. That’s before it gets to the agenda it’s been elected to deliver.

Making life even worse are a series of landmines — some even laid by Labor before the last election — that risk blowing up in the newly minted government’s face.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanian shakes hands of Labor members of parliament at the first caucus meeting since the election.
Even before all the votes were counted, the Albanian government stormed into office vowing to be working from day one.ABC News: Matt Roberts

There was a pivotal moment in the campaign that some in Labor think won the election.

Anthony Albanese was under pressure over wages and found himself agreeing that the Fair Work Commission should lift the minimum wage by 5.1 per cent — to reflect the most recent inflation figure. No worker should go backwards, he argued.

The Coalition seized on the moment and said setting a figure was an overreach. But it soon found itself looking like it was against Australians getting a pay rise. Labor wanted a fight on wages and the then government had given it one on a silver platter.

Labor won the election and, even before all the votes were counted, stormed into office vowing to be working from day one.

Among the first things it did was make a submission to the Fair Work Commission on the minimum wage. What came next was a classic case of wanting your political cake and eating it too.

An economy — and government — under pressure

“Economic conditions are particularly challenging given inflation is at a 21-year high of 5.1 per cent and is expected to increase further in the near-term due to persistent and compounding supply shocks,” the government wrote in its submission.

“In considering its decision on wages for this year, the Government recommends that the Fair Work Commission ensures real wages of Australia’s low-paid workers do not go backwards,” it added. In the submission document the back half of the sentence was in bold; an effort by the government to nail its message.

Labor knows it can’t outright ask for a 5.1 per-cent increase in the minimum wage.

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