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Wed, Aug. 25th, 2010, 07:58 am
[Politics] May you live in interesting times

I tend to think of the ancient Chinese curse as a blessing, at least when it comes to politics, but this is too much of a good thing. Wednesday and the result is still not clear, but what is clear is that this result is a repudiation of the two major parties. Maybe at the the next election (which I expect will come much sooner than in three years' time) they will try to inspire us with real vision for the country and give us a reason to vote for them instead of against the other guy? Antony Green has given Denison to the Independent Andrew Wilkie, which means the Coalition is likely to have the edge in terms of number of seats held (73 against 72) in which case I expect Tony Abbott will form government with the help of the three conservative-leaning independents. I expect the Independents will agree to support the Coalition in any no-confidence vote (in the absence of fraud or gross incompetence) and to pass supply, but every other Bill will be considered on its merits. After that, he has to get it through the Senate where the Greens will hold the balance of power. In spite of the wails about the end of the world, he will not be so suicidal as to try to push through WorkChoices again, or dismantle Medicare (which is most certainly not on their agenda anyway). I don't think much in the way of egregious policy will get through the Senate, even if he can bribe the Independents in the lower house with bonuses for regional Australia. In fact, the Independents may even be able to push Tony more towards Labor's policy of a National Broadband Network (a big deal for regions) with no net censorship on the horizon so this might even be a good outcome over all.

In the Senate, this election has been a good one for the Greens and a bad one for Family First (I note with no little satisfaction). The Greens picked up a Senate seat in every state and Family First lost their one Senator in Victoria. In early counting, it looked like FF might replace him with a Senator in South Australia but this doesn't look so likely anymore. The Greens will definitely hold the balance of power in the Senate, so they will act as a brake on any really bad policy from the Coalition. However, the new Senate doesn't sit until next July, so until then Tony Abbott will only need the support of Family First and the Independent Nick Xenophon to pass legislation. FF is virtually an extension of the Coalition anyway in my opinion, but I don't think Nick will be so easily swayed.

Tue, Aug. 24th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
broc_dresdroth

just a question i was not sure about. if the election gets called early will the other half of the senate be up for election too? or can they just call it for the lower house? with only 3 (i think that right) green members on that half of the senate it could mean substantial gains if even half the vote is as high next time.

Tue, Aug. 24th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
marko_the_rat

If the Coalition gets a Bill blocked twice by the Senate, he can use that as a trigger to call a double dissolution election, where all of both houses will go the people. With only around 7% needed for a quota in that case, it would make it even easier for the Greens to pick up Senate seats, so it's not something he'd relish doing. Alternatively, he can call a regular election where all of the lower house and half of the upper house gets voted on. Again, that gives the Greens an opportunity to increase their numbers seeing as at the previous election they only picked up three Senators. Either way, he can't expect to control the Senate, but he might hope to regain control of the House of Representatives. I don't think there's any mechanism whereby he can call an election just for the lower house.

Thu, Aug. 26th, 2010 06:39 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Sorry, Broc, it does look like it's possible for the governor-general to call a new election just for the lower house, which makes sense because that's where government is formed:

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/pubs/PRACTICE/chapter3.htm#gen

The convention, as best as I can understand it, is that she should ask Julia Gillard if she can gain the support of the lower house. If she says no, the GG should ask Tony Abbott. If he also says no, she should call a new election, but I expect not without first urging both of them to try harder. I get the impression some people are spoiling for a new election (probably party hacks), naively thinking that will somehow sort this mess out, but I think most people don't want to face that again so soon. Even I'm all electioned out!

Thu, Aug. 26th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
broc_dresdroth

Hmm i was wondering if this was possible. (wow you really know how to hunt down info, very impressed with your skills Marko, i was at a loss finding much). i am with you in regards to another election right away. that would be rough.

Tue, Aug. 24th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
guma_kawauso

Humm.. most educational. I look forward to more enlightenment on this... um.. incident? I'm curious to your opinions as well. Though I already believe there's a dislike for Family First and the Coalition?

Tue, Aug. 24th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Some people would like to call me a socialist ratbag so they don't have to think about me, but it's actually a lot more complicated than that. All other things being equal, I would have preferenced the Coalition ahead of Labor in the lower house if Malcolm Turnbull were still their leader rather than Tony Abbott. I very much objected to the direction the Coalition was taken under John Howard, and I'm afraid of more of the same from Tony Abbott. Family First is just a front for a fundamentalist Christian Church; an abuse of both religion and politics so I don't have any time for them at all.

Wed, Aug. 25th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
tania: Alternate theory

This may be optimism, but:

Wilkie is a former Green and still very much a leftie. (My electorate is Denison - I'm overjoyed that he got in here, even if it is bad for the Labor party.) Between him and the Melbourne Green you've got two left-leaning independents, and of those two the Melbourne guy has said outright he won't team up with the Libs.

So that's a definite two who'd go to Labor if they can manage it. If they can convince just two of the independents, they'll have the numbers they need to form government with Labor. However, I hear the Independents are vowing to decide as a group, so... I've no idea how that'll pan out.

Hasluck isn't a dead cert to the Coalition yet, it's pretty darn close. If it does happen to go to Labor at the eleventh hour the situation will be instantly reversed, with Labor one seat ahead. We can hope?

Honestly, I dislike both major parties and am pleased that the Greens are finally emerging as a serious alternative. While I agree with you on the Coalition being far better with Malcolm Turnbull, I still don't want to see them in power in any form. My mother works in social services with disadvantaged kids, and her field always suffers terribly under the Coalition.

Bring on another election, I say. I'll be voting Green again, second pref to Wilkie, same as this time.

Wed, Aug. 25th, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat: Re: Alternate theory

If Hasluck does go to Labor instead (and that's still a possibility) then the situation is reversed and Labor is more likely to get the support of at least one of the right-leaning Independents. The Coalition would need all three right-leaning Independents plus the support of one Greens and one left-leaning Independent, and I just don't see that happening, especially when they can't claim the legitimacy of leading on the seat count. That's still going to be a very shaky government, with legislation needing the approval of Labor, one Greens, one left-leaning Independent and at least one right-leaning Independent to get through. Assuming the Greens vote as a block at least it won't have any trouble getting through the Senate then though.

Even my scenario assumes that the WA National's claims of being another Independent are just posturing; he has said he'll support Labor if they promise to scrap their mining tax. That would anger the Greens, but not enough that they'd side with the Coalition instead.
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