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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 11:22 pm (UTC)

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.