Why Australia keeps changing prime ministers | Politics Explained

Remember this guy? He left office in 2007, and he’s the last
Australian leader to serve an entire term without a leadership challenge or a call for an early election. That means no prime minister has served a full term for more than a decade. Julia Gillard toppled Kevin Rudd, who returned the favour three years later. He then lost the election to Tony Abbott,
who lost a challenge from Malcolm Turnbull, who was then replaced by Scott Morrison. Phew! This country has seen a lot of leadership challenges in the last decade. So why do we keep changing prime ministers? Short answer? Because
we can. In Australia, unlike other countries, we don’t actually vote for a prime minister. We vote for parties. The party which ends up with the most
MPs in the House of Reps becomes the ruling party. And the leader of that ruling party then becomes prime minister. Whereas, say in the US, the president is voted in through the electoral college system, which is a conversation for a whole other time. So the only way a president can be removed — other than losing the next election — is by the process of impeachment, which is the formal allegation of a crime, and eventual conviction. It’s a whole big process, and so far no president has actually been removed from office in this way. But in Australia, as a side effect of our system, the prime minister gets no special protection. Because the position is simply held by the
leader of the party, if the party decides that they like someone else better, it can swap without getting the tick of approval from voters. The first of the recent batch of leadership
knifings happened virtually overnight way back in 2010, when Julia Gillard toppled Kevin Rudd in a
leadership challenge. “And Mark, it was a day quite unlike any other.” “Literally, Chris. No one here has seen anything like it.” And back in 2010, that was a fair call. Before this, only two successful challenges had been mounted in Government, first in 1971 and then again in 1991. Since 2010 though, leadership spills have been a much more common occurrence. Because each MP’s term is 3 years, and each senator’s term is 6 years, it feels like politicians are constantly campaigning. And a really good reminder of that are the opinion polls. They’re published around once a fortnight
by different news organisations — including News Corp, Fairfax and the Guardian — and they give an indication of which party people prefer at that point in time. While there’s always a margin of error with these things, they’re often used for political gain. “We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row.” “It is clear the people have made up their
mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership.” The problem with this though, was that it
naturally became a sort of self-made marker for his own leadership. And when Malcolm Turnbull hit 30 negative Newspolls, it was used against him by the people plotting his downfall. “I mean I regret making those remarks at the time, “making remarks about 30 newspolls at the time.” Factions are also much more important than they used to be. Factions are basically groupings within parties according to policy or ideology, so they might be left-leaning or right-leaning for example. Malcolm Turnbull was super unpopular
with the powerful hard-right faction of the Liberal Party. So much so, that they threw their support behind the right-leaning Peter Dutton in a leadership challenge, who ended up being unsuccessful anyway. So, what’s to say these shenanigans won’t
happen again? Just because we can constantly change Prime Ministers, doesn’t mean we should, right? The good news is that the parties themselves have started to change the rules, to make it harder for these kinds of challenges to happen. In 2013, Kevin Rudd introduced new conditions within the Labor party to make it tougher to change leaders. Now, if more than one candidate puts their hand up for the top job, both MPs and senators and party members elect a new leader over a month-long process. If the party wants to call a spill while in government, 60 per cent of MPs and senators must back it, rather than the 50 per cent it was before. The Liberal party has also introduced new laws, although they aren’t as strong. Under the changes, two-thirds of Liberal MPs and senators will have to back a spill for it to go ahead, and it only applies to prime ministers who’ve won an election. That means, it doesn’t apply to our current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. If the Libs are in Opposition, the rules are relaxed even more. And while these changes have made it harder for challenges to happen, it is still possible. For real change to occur, it’s up to the parties themselves to unify. And whether either side of politics has learned its lesson from these bruising battles of recent years? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. “And there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian.”

100 comments on “Why Australia keeps changing prime ministers | Politics Explained”

  1. Mitchell Hunter says:

    Rather than disenfranchising voters with this "two sides of the same coin" reporting why don't you show the people where the major differences and outcomes of each party lie? Making people believe unsophisticated statements like "Labor and Liberal are just as bad as each other" is irresponsible and self serving because you KNOW that your sugar daddies in the Liberal party will win more seats if you omit information that makes Labor look good.

  2. redpillbill says:

    Liberal and Labor Private Corporations, We dont have Primary Minister , Only CEO
    They are traitors to the Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth.

  3. Rômulo Fiúza e Mello says:

    I would like to add, as a person from Brazil, wich is a presidencialist republic, the Australian way is actually pretty good. Very much better than ours, because when the president loses trust from the parliament or the people we cannot easily remove him. We have to wait the end of the term or the parliament impeachs the president, but impeachment is meant to be used only when a crime is committed, so… Questions of legitimacy are always on the way. The Westminster model is much better. You should feel blessed you can change leaders that easy.

  4. diablo son says:

    Just bye this thumb u can tell which government is worse

  5. helpful tips says:

    Oh my heavens

  6. Creamapera says:

    We need a real PM for once. Fraser Anning fits the bill perfectly.

  7. Dameon1970 says:

    Australia is more divided than ever, and its only getting worse – totally ungovernable – pity

  8. Mike Smith says:

    Neville Bartos the next Aussie Prime Minister

  9. Mindless Shoppers says:

    Sounds corrupt to me, people can't pick the leader.

  10. Zachery Fraser says:


  11. Mark Anthony says:

    John gave us the GST.

  12. Voltaire Gaming says:

    We are also forced to vote.

  13. simon chapman says:

    Remember folks a vote 4 morrison is a vote for Adani who win destroy the barrier reef an a vote for dutton who aint got nothin.

  14. Brenton Ryan says:

    Yeah I said it a while ago that if they can’t sit out their terms they do not deserve any benefits afterwards. Disgusting really, And a great way to lose support.

  15. Mr Mercenary says:

    RICHARD NIXON WAS BASICALLY IMPEACHED sure he resigned but he was only a.day away from the big Impeachment

  16. Wots Nue says:


  17. stenka rasin says:

    We keep trying them in the hopes of finding a good one, alas, we have such a shallow pool to draw on.

  18. REDGLASSES 123 says:

    Liberal Party n. Scot Morrison keeps Australia moves on the top of the world vote 1 for liberals in

  19. Gonzo the great says:

    They are all like tampons and need to be changed when bloody enough

  20. Berat Appak says:

    Can she stop being overly dramatic when she speaks, It seems a little racist

  21. Jackrussell hound says:

    Its not fair……you said I can be Prime Minister this time…….ah stuff it I"m going home…….I don't care who gets my seat.

  22. Ironchef Australia says:

    Why vote at all? in 4 years it will change again and anything you want or voted for will be overturned by the incoming government.
    stupidity 101

  23. dante dante says:

    PLEASE LOOK UP *****NEVER VOTE FOR LABOUR…LIBERAL…THE GREEN..****please look up ""liabilitymate and get educated.

  24. C Homes says:

    Australia is the only country with compulsory voting that fines it's citizens for not voting…. then the person you voted for doesn't stay in anyway. There is a reason Australians including myself go to the ballot stations just to get your name ticked off to avoid the fine, before putting in a blank card with no vote on it. Don't support this stupid system.

  25. Mouth Eater says:

    Have Australian PMs ever created their own parties to avoid being replaced?

  26. Ben Chesterman says:

    Bob Hawke brought in Capital gains tax 1984 , he effected middle class and self retired , But he favoured bums in this country , labor party isn't any different today

  27. Daryl Younger says:

    Australian politicians are simply untrustworthy. We had the chance to become a republic and because there are too many back thinking people in this country the referendum failed.
    Shame Australia Shame

  28. Scorpion says:

    Australian government is like women. They are changing their pats every months.

  29. Luke DN says:

    I respect Australian political system, but really the constantly changing PMs is like a joke for everyone to watch in this planet

  30. Patrick Thackeray says:

    Good vid
    But I wish you wouldn't move your head around so much

  31. Fierce Terminator says:

    Yeah but now we have the most hypocrit prime minister in the history of Australia.

  32. KittyKat says:

    I’d rather just sworn in Bill Shorten than jump off a bridge all because everyone in our country is talking political crap.

  33. forestsoceansmusic says:

    1. Only the richest Parties can afford to run a candidate in every electorate (which is necessary to even have a hope of winning).
    Only the richest Parties can afford enough advertising to get their campaign known to enough people (which is also necessary to even have a hope of winning).

  34. forestsoceansmusic says:

    2. To have real democracy (and not this 2-horse-race fake "democracy") there should only be one big electorate (for the Shire, or State, or the whole of Australia), because people vote for Parties way more than individuals, and in those cases where they do vote for individuals, that individual is beholden to the Party they are in. There should only be one 'House' with 100 members, and if Party A gets 33% of the vote, then they should get 33 seats in the House. If Party B gets 54% of the vote, then they should get 54 seats in the House. If no Party has a clear majority, that is no problem, it would mean a healthy debate and voting between all the Parties in the House; it would actually be more democratic. Italy had a similar system for decades after World War II, and even though there were elections every year for a while, it was still way more democratic than putting in one of the two richest Parties in power to do what they like (and break their promises) for 3 to 4 years.

  35. forestsoceansmusic says:

    3. Also, to have a real democracy (and not a fake "democracy" based on expensive mass media advertising), at the very least, OUR GOVERNMENT MEDIA (the ABC) must give EQUAL MEDIA TIME to every Party running; otherwise it's a "democracy" based on MONEY. You might say: 'It's based on large membership of winning political Parties.' But since when does large membership mean that Party's policies are in the interests of the majority; or that they are even honest?

  36. John Hurley says:

    Scum bags

  37. forestsoceansmusic says:

    Real change is NOT up to "the Parties themselves to unify". Real change is up to the people voting for more radical Parties, even if they can't afford the huge mass media budgets, nor even have the resources to run a candidate in every "electorate".
    Real change is up to us to DEMAND that our taxpayer-funded ABC give EQUAL media time to EVERY Party running.

  38. Harry Denny says:

    It is not important 'why' Australia can change it's leadership as often as it does, but it is very important that it can. If we take the United States as an example, Trump would have been removed from office in Australia much faster than Tony Abbott because when Australia has an arsehole as a leader or someone with policies the electorate does not want or someone inappropriate they are removed very quickly. When a country does not have a rapid removal mechanism you end up like the US having to suffer (in their case) a criminal administration with a president who has no respect for the law and who has committed crimes while in office and with little possibility of his removal anytime soon.

  39. dazaspc says:

    The reason why Howard lasted without getting kicked, he was ruthless with anyone who didn't agree. He never allowed any different ideas in cabinet otherwise it was back bench for them. His only goal was power and had little or no interest in the best government for Australia.

  40. Elliot says:

    Maybe we should stop calling them parties…

  41. Boss Frog says:

    Let’s be honest, if voting wasn’t COMPULSORY, at least half the country wouldn’t even vote because people just don’t trust these useless puppets to make real change.

  42. fhhsvnggbh says:

    Who cares, they are all scumbags liars and should all win the used car saleman of the year award.
    We keep changing because idiots get bored with the current leader and they replace the leader.
    How do they do this? They use those bs polls like galaxy and the rest. I remember being in a clients house when they rang before abott was removed, they asked the caller, do you know who mr rabbit is, the woman said no idea and hung up, Im like mr rabbit or Tony Abott….
    How accurate are those news polls? No one knows and its also skewed towards the news overlords political oppinions.
    Basically, canberra has become that good looking slutty dumb as doghsit blonde girl that genuinely believes news from facebook is real…..

  43. Reality Bites says:

    Quality wouldn't be a factor would it? Let's face it, if the people weren't stopped by requiring an election, all ministers would probably be replaced way more often. The biggest problem is the replacement would be another self serving politician.

  44. bum_tickle says:

    0:33 sec Egpyt. Really?

  45. ザッくんS. says:

    1:01 “a whole nother” is not correct english. fine for casual conversation but a journalist should know better

  46. Aurora says:

    Why do they still get the pension, they've scraped it for everyone else. It should be the same for them.

  47. ersu says:

    John Howard was also the first prime minister to blatantly lie during his campaign (NO GST)

  48. Alec Silins says:

    They said that no president has been removed by impeachment and conviction, what about Watergate and Richard Nixon in 1974

  49. Dontgivein Iself says:

    They do it so they can make the changes they want for money deals with other nationals, then get out before they can be blaimed..
    Confuse the people who just go to work… makem think there different sides, a right & left.
    Swaps between a gov for middle class to a gov for the upper class.
    All sellouts tho just there for material and monetary gain.

  50. pubokiazm says:

    cuz they are just zionist puppets now and the master is testing out its pawns. shame on you oz. thejuicemedia is the only good thing that comes out of oz in recent decade. i'll never visit oz ever again.

  51. Victor Nojin says:

    Bring back Howard.

  52. Lance Rexington says:

    Vote in politicians that are anti-immigrants their the best ones for office.

  53. nixymagoo says:

    It's a lot simpler than that, we are uneducated idiots.

  54. me aoude says:

    I love it hehehe

  55. P P says:

    Whay beacose thay all clowns as usual thay keep liyng and promising and deliver nothing polititians are the same every we’re.

  56. gadjet collins says:

    That's what you get when you vote for Libs, labor, Nationals and specially the greens.

  57. Zion Child says:

    Australia is a mess! It can't get any easier than that.

  58. Christopher Craven says:

    We don't have to wait and see, I'm a green supporter and I can still see that labor are more United than the coalition, it's been their message for the last few weeks, and it's fair to assess from the last year alone that they have been more United than the coalition, your video even mentions the diverging hard right faction supporting Peter Dutton.

    I know you're afraid of being accused of having a left wing bias, but we do not need to wait and see which one is more United. If you mean to wait till after the election before judging the parties on their actions then your vote will mean nothing, simply picking a random that you hope for.

  59. fred fred says:

    That dog Howard dearmed Australia after his Government framed Martin Bryant for the Hobart massacre that was the start of our Government bring in Islamic Soldiers once we were un armed but it will backfire as the Real Aussie people wont tolerate this much longer

  60. Luke I says:

    If you have the head of state that you cannot vote out or in it doesn't matter really who is the PM. On top of that all those PMs come always from the same duopoly establishment.

  61. Paul Vazzo says:

    Vote labor mean Chaos , illegal migrants , endless strikes , Mates on roles or jobs that arent capable of performing ,

  62. Mi7ch24 says:

    Next Prime Ministers: Shorten Plibersek, Shorten

  63. Lilly Marvelle says:

    Screw hem all except Fraser Anning Anning for PM

  64. Communist International & Co. says:

    Why does last leaders of some sort look the same: John Howard, Mikhail Gorbachev,etc.

  65. N PG says:

    The whole two party system is a farce! Only the sheeple of the world keep taking this seriously.

  66. Bea says:

    Is that the reason why plans and promises can't be done?

  67. AMYAS Seek Truth says:


  68. Brian Goodman177 says:

    A lot of it's media driven. 'Journalists' like to think of themselves as players.

  69. DenzoGamin says:

    Theresa May should consider herself lucky not to be Australian prime minister.

  70. MaJesticGoat Gaming says:

    egpyt lol

  71. Lorry Camill says:

    A pri minister elected should finish his term not to be removed until his term is finished

  72. Lorry Camill says:

    And Merkel made a mess in Europe and doesn’t want to leave if she can she will stay for ever

  73. Hooha888 says:

    Because they are a criminal treasonous illegitimate government! They don't have a right to change leaders without a referendum! They illegally change the rules without a referendum of the people of Australia! They don't care about the common people of Australia, only their corporate and rich masters!

  74. Martin Edwards says:

    So ignorant. No one in Parliamentary system votes for the Prime Minister directly. And Impeachment isn’t removal from office.
    The Electoral College is pure genius. Our fathers wanted nothing like the British System.

  75. TheOriginalCopyDog says:

    QUESTION: What if I like a particular Prime Ministerial Candidate and thoroughly detest my local representative of the same Party? I would have to vote for someone I do not want locally in order to get the prime minister I want wouldn't I? Especially bad if our local representative is flat out completing a sentence let alone a promise made at an election.
    The Australian political system is completely flawed, we are voting for the party NOT the Prime Minister. This leaves to system open for manipulation by the elected government. EG. From within the party, Candidate "A" is charismatic and a great spin Doctor. The alternate Candidate is not well liked, has questionable integrity, a reputation of low moral fibre and would break the knee caps of the person next to them if it meant getting the top job. OBVIOUSLY Candidate "A" will be presented for the election. Once Candidate "A" has won the election, they can be quickly overthrown by The alternate Candidate with the support of the elected party. SO NOW the people who voted in a manner to support Candidate "A", IE. voting for an under-performing local representative, now have to tolerate The alternate Candidate AND an under-performing local Representative. THEY DID NOT VOTE FOR THE ALTERNATE CANDIDATE, THEY VOTED FOR CANDIDATE "A". This completely undermines the democratic system and breeds complacency and cynicism in the voting population. At the cost of the Australian tax payer, Australia has had 5 Prime Ministers in 6 Years. To put it another way, Australians are paying for "5" lifetime pensions instead of only 2 and to people that didn't really give a damn about their elected position, or Australia for that matter, just the perks that came with the title "PRIME MINISTER" They are set for life even-though they were Prime Minister for less then 3 years and at a cost to the tax payer of over $200 000pa per pension plus other benefits.
    QUOTE: "In 2007, 86% of voters were satisfied with Australia’s democracy, but that figure dropped to 72% by 2010 (where it plateaued for three years) and then went into freefall from 2013, plummeting from 72% to 41% between 2013 and 2018.It means voter satisfaction with Australian democracy, as it is being practised, has more than halved in 10 years."
    The Guardian. 5th December 2018.

    The catalyst to This collapse in Australia's democracy was effectively Julia Gillard.

    ONE PERSON ONE VOTE. We should be voting for the Prime Minister NOT the party. If the party wants to throw the serving PM out, then that should call for another full election for a new PM not a ballot from with in the party. If you follow preferential voting you will see that it will always leads back to the two major parties. The cycle is to entrenched to dictate otherwise.

  76. zadose says:

    So for Australia… there's the….
    Liberals (American conservatives)
    Labors (the Leftists)
    And Greens (like Leftists)

    ….guess who's ruining the country by bringing in mass 100,000 illegals from boats? The Greens and Labors……

  77. assgl7693 says:

    even here in India, we vote for parties, not for the prime minister, but we do know beforehand who will become the PM. As it is expected from the parties to announce the PM candidate.
    Here, PMs can be changed by the ruling parties but it seldom happens here. We also vote for chief ministers for the state and municipal corporations as I live in Navi Mumbai. almost every 2 years we keep on voting.

  78. Barnes David says:

    Prime ministers are not the head of state.

  79. Kirt Kirt says:

    scomo looks like turnbull with the evil turned up

  80. Empress Wu says:

    Polls hahahahahahaha!

  81. Hannz says:

    A game of thrones within a game of thrones

  82. adriyk says:

    Is there any country where people vote for a PM? I can’t think of one.

  83. ashish bhatt says:

    What a stupidity!

  84. donkey ass reviews and do's says:

    Let's make everyone in Australia prime minister nice little retirement pensions for all

  85. Glen Olsen says:

    Fake news ABC ..WE don't change PM's their parties get ride of the ones we vote for .then give us people like Turnbul ..it's their climate change rubbish we reject

  86. aaron morgan says:

    Get johnny back in

  87. Peter George says:

    Because the politician put in flawed leaders . The politician who wants to lead should be automatically barred.

  88. Wallace_ _It_Up says:

    Imagine if Potato head had toppled Turnbull instead of Scott Morrison…… 3:47

  89. Rockers From Hell says:

    Only an idiot cant see the Aust govt is there for taking in tax $$ and power now, it does nothing for and plans nothing for the people anymore, its more like a mafia outfit, taking what it can get off whoever it can get it off, society itself is dying.

  90. Pure Somali says:

    Malcolm Turnbull is so sexy.

  91. Guru Sandirasegaram says:

    After John Howard left. No one knows how to run the parliament?
    John Howard interviewed by CBC when he was in Vancouver. I can’t remember what he said ( Retrospective)

  92. The_Ohioan says:

    There's a reason why leaders of a congress/parliament should be kept separate from the leader of a country and elected in a separate process.

  93. HM says:

    Time for a Republic and Bill of rights.

  94. phil mortlock says:

    I'm an Aussie I dont vote because we don't have a Donald Trump.

  95. Aryan John says:

    Why Australia is not moving on? We are not united. White policy was abolished about 50 years ago but Why is government dominated by the British? In a multicultural Australia, a British accent should not be an advantage. Why so many complaints to WA government about staff being discriminated by racist gangs at work? Time to be more Australian. Lets update our government members, our education, our media and understanding to a more mixed Australia made from good qualities of 200 different nations migrated to this country.

  96. Nick Sofialakis says:

    LoL… Would you vote for Peter Dutton Or A Hitler?

  97. Twin_ Gaming5000 says:

    No more liberals

  98. Twin_ Gaming5000 says:

    No more liberals scomo must scogo hit the like on the comment

  99. Pajama Lama says:

    Same trash different dumpster

  100. Orion Pérez says:

    Based on some number-crunching and analysis, it turns out that the key culprit is Australia's extremely short 3-year MP terms. This extremely short election cycle forces parties in the Majority to be ultra-sensitive to polls and feedback in an exaggerated way during this era of social media and almost instantaneous on-line feedback. John Howard didn't have such during his time, Kevin Rudd did.

    New Zealand also does have short 3-year election cycles, but they have one specific difference: NZ uses a Mixed Member Proportional Representation System which makes Party Discipline extremely important (the proportional representation component thus ranks each party member based on internally-perceived commitment to the party, seniority, etc), making it harder to have intra-party leadership spills. Australia's electoral system for the lower house does not have such a system in place and thus there is less emphasis on internal party discipline within whichever party is in power.

    So it is this dangerous cocktail of short 3 year electoral cycles combined with the Age of Social Media and Rapid Almost-Instantaneous Feedback combined with an electoral system that does not enforce strong intra-party discipline that is to blame.

    The end result is that polls make party members of whichever party is Government at the time extremely jittery. In countries with 5 year cycles, there is enough time to recover from low poll results (usually after a controversial measure is adopted), so leadership challenges are not as common. But in Australia, 3 years is way too short. A new prime minister spends his first year trying to build popularity, and then uses the second year to push his/her agenda which may include some controversial proposals. The controversial proposals then affect the party's performance at the polls/surveys and relentless social media feedback can ensue, causing the other party members to fear that they may lose the next general election which is usually less than a year away. To try to correct this situation of having low polling results, a leadership challenge ensues, essentially ditching the Prime Minister who is seen as causing the dip in the polls results and replacing the PM with someone else within the party in order to improve their chances at the upcoming general elections.

    Australia simply needs to shift away from 3 year terms and adopt 5 year terms so that the cycles aren't too short and party members of whichever party happens to be the Government of the Day won't be too jittery after poll results show a few temporary dips. With a longer cycle like 5 years instead of 3, it is possible for ruling party members to take on a longer view instead of proposing to change the ruling party's leader 2 years into a 3 year term.

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