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Australian election non-result
August 24, 2010 8:51 PM   Subscribe

The people have spoken mumbled a bit. The Australian Federal election held last Saturday has produced an extraordinary result. A minority government with the support of 1 Green and (maybe) 4 very independent independents will should result, but which way will it fall, left or right? Every Westminster-style government, claimed to produce strong stable majorities, now has a hung parliament. Even though results may not be known for several days yet, we can acknowledge the outstanding work of the Australian Electoral Commission. (Previously).
posted by wilful (132 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think that this has so-far been a remarkably good outcome (well as long as Tones doesn't become PM). Andrew Wilkie has meant that for the first time we're maybe going to have a debate about Afghanistan. Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott reckon we should just go back to the Garnaut report for pricing carbon. Bob Katter, nutter that he is, has a very good point about the social decay of rural areas. The Greens are here to stay. The "faceless men" of the ALP have taken a massive credibility blow. The coalition will be asked to ahve tehir policies properly costed.

it's remarkable, and it's so far pretty damn good.
posted by wilful at 8:55 PM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wonder if the result will be as boring as the YKs coalition has been.
posted by Artw at 8:58 PM on August 24, 2010


OMG TWO POSTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN ELECTIONS IN FOUR YEARS GIVE IT A REST WILL YOU
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:04 PM on August 24, 2010 [30 favorites]


I heard on Q&A the swing to non vote was larger than the swing to the coalition, which, if true, is a scathing indictment of the major political parties and their campaigns.
posted by Admira at 9:04 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


The people have spoken mumbled a bit.

Well, it was hard for the politicians to whip up much public interest in the brief cathartic lull between the end of Masterchef & the start of the footy finals.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:05 PM on August 24, 2010


it's a great outcome - and even if the tories do manage to gain government - three years under that maniac abbot, people won't be voting liberal for a long long time.
posted by the noob at 9:06 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Admira, here's Possum on the informal vote.
posted by wilful at 9:10 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an outsider, it is fascinating to observe the political process in Australia. On one hand it is hard to disagree with "ALP has lost the mandate", and on the other hand, it is equally difficult to believe that the Coalition has the "moral authority" to govern now. Given all the infighting in ALP, the Coalition should have won many more seats - so a narrative can be constructed that the Australian people haven't really voted for Abbott even after all the problems within ALP.

A link of caution to those wishing for a First-Past-the-Post system in Australia: Indian elections

(On the "Every Westminster-style government" having a hung parliament bit though, I disagree. In India, a pre-election coalition (called United Progressive Alliance) with a "common minimum programme" for governance had won the elections and is in power.)
posted by vidur at 9:14 PM on August 24, 2010


OMG TWO POSTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN ELECTIONS IN FOUR YEARS GIVE IT A REST WILL YOU

yes indeed, I call double, there was a similar thread about three years ago.
posted by the noob at 9:15 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


vidur, NOBODY wants a first past the post system in Australia.
posted by wilful at 9:16 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The people have spoken, and they have said "LOL, I dunno O_o".
posted by jasmus at 9:18 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previous thread, a few days ago. Not as much info as this one though.
posted by divabat at 9:22 PM on August 24, 2010


wilful, Rupert Tucker, West Beach, SA would like to disagree with you (scroll down). That was in the Australian today, and I have seen similar comments on news stories after the election. Seems like a minority opinion though.
posted by vidur at 9:22 PM on August 24, 2010


Rupert Tucker is a moron.

Newspaper comments section, you say?
The Australian, you say?

Ah, ok.
posted by pompomtom at 9:26 PM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I voted for the Australian Sex Party, because I'm in the unenviable position of being for the war but against the troops and with stress like that I could really use a handjob.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:26 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


NOBODY wants a first past the post system in Australia.

I'd certainly have a lot more success in the Melbourne cup sweep if it was decided by a proportional representation system.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:28 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Chaser have certainly gone off the boil, but this piece on why people voted Greens was pretty good.
posted by wilful at 9:28 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


divabat, I thought that recent developments deserved a new post. Fairly momentous stuff, all this, for those that care.
posted by wilful at 9:29 PM on August 24, 2010


Tony Abbott keeps talking about a mandate not realising that Australia's "mandate" has moved further left not right.

If anything Tony has less of a mandate to be in the driver's seat.
posted by Talez at 9:36 PM on August 24, 2010


Oh god, no, FPTP is a terrible system - preferential is much much better. People have been calling for proportional in the lower house, but I think to do so really undermines a significant aspect of the Australian system and an important corollary to the federalism that progressive federal governments have tried to undermine.
posted by smoke at 9:51 PM on August 24, 2010


The only mandate Tony Abbott has is the one he barely covers with spandex every other day.
posted by smoke at 9:52 PM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


All of Tony's comments make great PR, but completely undermine his own position. In his own words, a minority government does not have the legitimacy to govern. However, if he was in power he'd be leading a minority governments, so... ?

And as for a 'moral' victory, that's not how elections work. Just ask Al Gore.
posted by Neale at 9:57 PM on August 24, 2010


Oh god, no, FPTP is a terrible system - preferential is much much better. People have been calling for proportional in the lower house, but I think to do so really undermines a significant aspect of the Australian system and an important corollary to the federalism that progressive federal governments have tried to undermine.

I don't think a national or even state PR for the lower house would be a good idea but amalgamating 5, 6 or even 7 seats into electoral divisions that could be determined with a mini-Senate style STV or full below the line voting.

It really is unfair that Greens can pick up 10+% of the primary vote and only a single seat.
posted by Talez at 10:04 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The flip side of that coin, Talez, is why don't have too many crazy micro parties like DLP, FF, etc mucking about in our upper or lower houses.

I think there are pros and cons to either, but I would argue that an important part of of federal model is based on people representing specific geographical areas, be they states or electroates. I worry that a more proportional style will have the effect of moving the average citizen even further from their representation, their tools of democracy so to speak.
posted by smoke at 10:08 PM on August 24, 2010


Tony Abbott keeps talking about a mandate not realising that Australia's "mandate" has moved further left not right.

He's just following Liberal party precedent.

John Howard claimed that Australia had given him a mandate to implement the GST, when in fact the coalition actually gained less than 50% of the total vote (but won the crucial marginal seats).
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:09 PM on August 24, 2010


It really is unfair that Greens can pick up 10+% of the primary vote and only a single seat

However, thankfully, the same was true of One Nation back in the nineties.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:12 PM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


On the subject of what a good job the Electoral Commission has done:

I just finished doing a short stint working with the AEC on the lead up to the election, and it was surely an excellent organization run by some really hard working, dedicated people- totally committed to being professional and putting together a project that they all truly believed in. Some had clear personal political views but they all without exception kept them entirely separate from the process itself. I was really impressed. The 70+ hour weeks we all put in flew by, no-one complaining or fretting at all. I felt like I was doing my bit for democracy, and all that stuff.

Oh, and plus their building has these halls of Maxwell Smart style automatic doors you could surely slam your nose in, no trouble.
posted by Philby at 10:19 PM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


On the subject of what a good job the Electoral Commission has done

Every election I scrutineer ballots during the counting, on behalf of the Party of which I'm a member. This generally involves three or four hours, after a 10+ hour day of work for the AEC officials, of watching really closely over people's shoulders at the counting, disputing and challenging the decisions of formality/informality made by the counters, and generally getting under their feet and in their faces. Scrutineers at their best are kind of annoying people and at their worst are verminous, obnoxious arseholes---that's what we do for votes. This year I was involved with Monday recounting as well, and in previous elections I've done recounting for days and days afterwards. I've done it for every State and Federal election for the past decade. I've never struck a bad or incompetent official.

They and the State electoral commissions are totally professional outfits and they deserve their reputations for uncompromising public service.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:31 PM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Every Westminster-style government, claimed to produce strong stable majorities, now has a hung parliament.

I know, right? Voters are such size queens.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:15 PM on August 24, 2010


Tony's comment about parliament being confrontational - especially in the last three years was quite telling. Yes very confrontational when they lost the reps and the senate, very confrontational when they (and that bizarre Fielding person) blocked everything - and even threatened supply. I'm sure that when the independents side with Labor, Tony is going to find out how confrontational his party room can be.

This is such a good outcome, I'm really chuffed and am starting to feel much better about our politics - apart from Maxine being a oncer.
posted by the noob at 11:29 PM on August 24, 2010


My worry personally is if Tony does get government he has 37 senators + Fielding until the 1st of July 2011.

God only knows how far they could wind back the clock together in that time. They're going to party like it's 1949.
posted by Talez at 11:35 PM on August 24, 2010


No Talez, with Fielding you can block bills, but not pass them.

(Hmm, not sure what happened to the territory senators).
posted by wilful at 11:46 PM on August 24, 2010


> three years under that maniac abbot, people won't be voting liberal for a long long time.

Do you think he'd last that long? Turnbull's chomping at the bit to have another go. Abbott handled himself surprisingly well during the election cycle but I don't doubt he'll return to his old ways if he becomes PM.

I really don't think the average Australian, who only pays attention to politics once every three years, realises what a misogynistic throwback Abbott is. He makes Howard look like a social progressive by comparison.
posted by Georgina at 11:48 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're going to party like it's 1949.

When amphetamines & opiates were freely available over the counter?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:51 PM on August 24, 2010


Yeah, heroin wasn't illegal in this country until 1953. Take the opium-laced cough medicine and you could die of tuberculosis without coughing once.
posted by Wolof at 11:56 PM on August 24, 2010


I've long been scheming on getting my hands on a time machine for that very reason.

In fact, I'm waiting for future me to pop back from the past with some pharmaceutical goodies right now.

Whoops, must have gotten the settings slightly off. Gregorian calendar and all that. But any minute now.
posted by Philby at 12:23 AM on August 25, 2010


Take the opium-laced cough medicine and you could die of tuberculosis without coughing once.

Or taking a dump.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:28 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The people have mumbled a bit.

I really hate this attitude that some commentators adopt. A hung parliament does not mean apathy amongst voters.

Surely the exact opposite is true? In Britain we had a heated political debate and an enormous turnout this year - and a hung Parliament. The 2001 election, which Labour walked, saw turnout slump - but was reported as an 'emphatic win for Labour'.

I think the people are sending a very strong message when there is a hung parliament. At the very least, if I as a voter turn up and slam my vote into the ballot box, I do it with the same fervour I always do. Just because someone else has done the exact same thing and voted against my choice, doesn't mean either of us were bored, yawning, or didn't really mean it when we voted.

And don't tell me a hung parliament means there is a stagnant political debate or politicians aren't trying hard enough to distinguish themselves to voters. That's like saying that if there is a dead heat between two sprinters, neither of them must have been going very fast.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 12:50 AM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


What the independents want:
"TO JULIA GILLARD and TONY ABBOTT

Requests for information

1. We seek access to information under the ‘caretaker conventions’ to economic advice from the Secretary of the Treasury Ken Henry and Secretary of Finance David Tune, including the costings and impacts of Government and Opposition election promises and policies on the budget.

2. We seek briefings from the following Secretaries of Departments:

1. Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
2. Health and Ageing
3. Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
4. Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
5. Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
6. Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water
7. Defence
8. Resources, Energy and Tourism

3. We seek briefings from caretaker Ministers and Shadow Ministers in the above portfolio areas to discuss their program for the next three years.

4. We seek advice as soon as possible on their plans to work with the Clerks of the Parliament to improve the status and authority of all 150 local MP’s within parliamentary procedures and structures. In particular, we seek advice on timelines and actions for increasing the authority of the Committee system, private members business and private members bills, matters of public importance, 90 second statements, adjournment debates, and question time.

5. We seek a commitment to explore all options from both sides in regard “consensus options” for the next three years, and a willingness to at least explore all options to reach a majority greater than 76 for the next three years. Included in these considerations is advice on how relationships between the House of Representatives and the Senate can be improved, and a proposed timetable for this to happen.

6. We seek a commitment in writing as soon as possible that if negotiations are to take place on how to form Government, that each of these leaders, their Coalition partners, and all their affiliated MP’s, will negotiate in good faith and with the national interest as the only interest. In this same letter of comfort, we seek a written commitment that whoever forms majority Government will commit to a full three year term, and for an explanation in writing in this same letter as to how this commitment to a full term will be fulfilled, either by enabling legislation or other means.

7. We seek advice as soon as possible on a timetable and reform plan for political donations, electoral funding, and truth in advertising reform, and a timetable for how this reform plan will be achieved in co-operation with the support of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The three non-aligned MP’s will now be heading home to families, electorate duties, and a long-standing appointment with the Governor-General (unrelated to this political deadlock). We have agreed to be back in Canberra on Monday for the full week of meetings in relation to the above.

We expect all the above information to be made available through best endeavours as soon as possible, so that formal negotiations with all stakeholders can begin by Friday 3rd September – if, based on final counts, negotiations are indeed needed at all."
posted by peacay at 12:59 AM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


vidur, NOBODY wants a first past the post system in Australia.

Two sickening words for you: Andrew Bolt. Today, apparently, he was on a "Well if we were a REAL country like Great Britain, those fine outstanding Liberal chaps would be in government like they deserve to be!" rant.

I don't think a national or even state PR for the lower house would be a good idea but amalgamating 5, 6 or even 7 seats into electoral divisions that could be determined with a mini-Senate style STV or full below the line voting.

Welcome to Tasmania, hope you enjoy the stay! Our system is fantastic. The proportion of parties in the Tasmanian lower house (20% Green, 40% Labor, 40% Liberal) almost precisely matches the proportion of votes they received across the state. And we've got pretty mountains!
posted by Jimbob at 1:05 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reading that list peacay posted, I'm all overcome. Way to stick it to 'em, lads. Please can we have these things? These nice things? Pretty please?
posted by coriolisdave at 1:41 AM on August 25, 2010


Welcome to Tasmania, hope you enjoy the stay
Not so fast Jimbob. Your painful little island gave the rest of the country thirty years of Brian Harradine. That's quite a sin to expiate.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:44 AM on August 25, 2010


In India

This is Australia. We meant white democracies, not...whatever colour people are in Indiana.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:47 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, it seems that they haven't included him as he's not yet definitely elected, but I would give a lot to be a fly on the wall should the Chief of the Defence Force have to give a full briefing to a panel involving Andrew Wilkie, MP.

ACM Houston'll bust those fucking eyebrows frowning so hard.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:48 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not so fast Jimbob. Your painful little island gave the rest of the country thirty years of Brian Harradine. That's quite a sin to expiate.

Pffft. You wouldn't say that if you'd seen all the fantastic Online Access Centres we have on every street corner! I believe my local one just bought a new acoustic coupler!
posted by Jimbob at 1:53 AM on August 25, 2010


From what I've just read on Twitter, from people watching some press conference somewhere I take it, Tony Abbott has just blown up his chance of becoming PM by refusing to have his policies costed even now, declaring the treasury incompetent, and saying the public service would be unable to understand his policies.
posted by Jimbob at 3:02 AM on August 25, 2010


Linkies.
posted by Jimbob at 3:03 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just so damn grateful that the independents seem to be people of principle. Well, I get the impression that Katter is being shamed by the other two into behaving somewhat honorably, but I'll take what I can get.

Imagine how appalling this situation would be if they'd just decided to settle for whichever of the majors would give them the biggest bribe.

Which reminds me, Tony Crook is saying he might sit on the crossbenches instead of with the Coalition, since he doesn't consider the WA Nationals to be the same party as The Nationals. I'm assuming that as with the WA state election in 2008, where the Nats made a noise about forming a government with Labor but stuck with the Libs as they always do, he's just waiting to see what Abbott offers him. If so, fair enough. He got rid of Wilson 'Ironbar' Tuckey, and for that I hope he gets giant barrels of pork for a decade.
posted by harriet vane at 3:25 AM on August 25, 2010


The link above to Possum on the informal vote is behind a paywall. Any subscribers care to summarise?
posted by harriet vane at 3:27 AM on August 25, 2010


Yes, those poor feebs at Treasury with their thousands of economics and finance degrees and decades of policy costing experience. How could they possibly comprehend Tony's awesome vision?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:28 AM on August 25, 2010


More on Abbott's refusal to submit to the Treasury from the ABC's live election blog (quoting in full since there seems to be no way to link to a specific post):
Mr Abbott was repeatedly pressed by journalists about whether or not he would allow Treasury to brief the independents on the Coalition's policy costings. The Opposition leader repeated a number of times that he felt his shadows and the accounting firm which audited the costings are in a better position to brief the trio of independents. Mr Abbott was pressed on how this stance was consistent with the charter of budget honesty, introduced by the Coalition when in government and which requires both sides of politics to submit costings to Treasury for auditing towards the end of an election campaign. In reply, Mr Abbott said he simply believed his team and the Coalition's accounting firm were more intimate with the Coalition's plans than Treasury ever could be. This was the first of the independents' seven requests set out in their letters to Julia Gillard and Mr Abbott. Given that Labor has agreed to submit its costings in full to Treasury and the Coalition has not, already there is a difference in the approach, and a point of differentiation for Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott to consider.
There's a nice summary of the problems with the current system over at Peter Martin's site.

Should we start taking bets on just how jacked up Abbott's budget is?
posted by Georgina at 3:41 AM on August 25, 2010


harriet vane, here's the same article without the paywall.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:52 AM on August 25, 2010


has anyone formally proposed "reforming" Australia's electoral system by replacing preferential voting with first-past-the-post?

In the UK, there's a campaign to dump FPTP; campaigners including the Lib Dems want proportional representation, though the coalition has compromised on an Australian lower-house-style alternative vote. The Tories have indicated that they will be campaigning for a no vote in the referendum, and a campaign to bring back FPTP in Australia would help their campaign. I can see the British Right covertly or overtly bankrolling such a campaign from afar for domestic propaganda advantage.
posted by acb at 4:06 AM on August 25, 2010


Two things I have to say:

1) Labor infighting? Oh please. The change from Rudd to Gillard is not without precedent. Look back to Hawke and Keating for an example of ongoing infighting. Look to Howard and Costello for the Libs equivalent. Look to the last three years of Liberal leadership. Look to the Democrats before that. The fact is that party leadership will change over time - the only time it doesn't is when there is a strong personality at the helm (Menzies, Howard, Hawke) who keeps their ministers too occupied for internal fighting.

2) I am extremely disappointed that Australia had a chance to vote in its first elected female PM... and choked. Gillard is an intelligent diplomat... I think the fact that we have such a close election says more about the electorate (our sad, pathetic, old-school, electorate) and very little about politics. You look at the BBC and they recognise Abbott for what he is: a bigoted zealot. I thought about leaving Australia for New Zealand many a time under the Howard Government... but Abbott? Give me strength. The man lives in a world where women are seen and not heard.

In addition... Harriet Vane, your name rocks! I salute you :)
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 4:11 AM on August 25, 2010


acb, in a word, no. No one with any credibility thinks that the voting system is all that bad.
posted by wilful at 4:20 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the independents get this right, they have the best chance anyone's had for decades to fix many, many of the stupidities of the way Parliament works at the moment. Just requiring Ministers standing up in Question Time to actually, you know, answer the questions they're asked would be a triumph. And Demand 7, about political donations and "truth in advertising", sounds like an agenda for awesomeness.

I'm not overjoyed at the result, but it is fascinating to see how politicians with real power act when they don't have caucus or the party room hovering over their shoulder every time they open their mouths, just in case they accidentally slip a tiny fragment of meaning in between the talking points. Sure, sometimes that fragment of meaning is leaving the WTO or whatever Australia would have to do to put Katter's banana tariff wall up, but it's still better than all that Moving Forward/Real Action shit.

1) Labor infighting? Oh please. The change from Rudd to Gillard is not without precedent.

A PM, though? Only a couple of months before the end of a government's first term? Rudd was pretty bad, but the way they handled the "transition" was shocking and just gave more ammunition to the callithumpian mongoloids (thanks Bob) of the News Ltd press in their campaign to paint Labor as a poll-driven marketing machine run by a faceless cabal of factional thugs (not completely unfairly).

2) I am extremely disappointed that Australia had a chance to vote in its first elected female PM... and choked.

You know who else had a chance to vote in its first female leader and didn't choke? The UK, in 1979. And look how that turned out.

As great as it is to have a female leader and all, the only good thing I can think of to say about Gillard is that she's not Tony Abbott. Which is pretty good, but leaves plenty of room for improvement.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:24 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is Australia. We meant white democracies, not...whatever colour people are in Indiana.

obiwanwasabi, you have indirectly accused me of racism, and/or cultural blindness, which i don't appreciate. Maybe if you could read the link I provided before so blithely insulting me?
posted by wilful at 4:26 AM on August 25, 2010


Yeah, you can't have it both ways. No voting system is perfect. If the US had had some kind of preferential system, we wouldn't still be hearing people bitching about Nader, and it's entirely possible there would be a few less wars going on in the world right now. I can't see any impetus for any voting system to be changed, anywhere - in every country, the political system is set up around the voting system they have, and no major party is ever going to approve of a change which would mean discarding their entire strategy.
posted by Jimbob at 4:26 AM on August 25, 2010


(And changing the voting system in order to win some ideological battle and consolidate power is also a bad idea. It can backfire. Again, Tasmania. We used to have 7 members in each of our multi-member electorates, but too many of the seats were being won by Greens, so Labor and Liberal conspired to reduce the representation to 5 members per electorate so the Greens had to meet a higher quota to get elected. Fast forward 15 years, Greens support has grown, they've got more members in parliament than ever before...but there are no longer enough MPs actually in parliament from which a competent ministry can be formed because they got rid of so many seats!)
posted by Jimbob at 4:34 AM on August 25, 2010


obiwanwasabi, you have indirectly accused me of racism, and/or cultural blindness, which i don't appreciate. Maybe if you could read the link I provided before so blithely insulting me?

Dude, what? Not only was I not talking to or about you (I was quoting vidur's observation about the lack of a hung parliament in India), my swipe at redneck Australian attitudes was so far opposed to what you're accusing me of that it just annexed Opposite Land and is marching on...whatever Paris is in Opposite Land. Dubbo. I don't know.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:35 AM on August 25, 2010


You know who else marched on Dubbo? Reltih.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:39 AM on August 25, 2010


Abbott's authoritarian/paternalist tendencies are well known. He did state some weeks before the election that he believes in "guided democracy". As such, I can imagine any "parliamentary reform" package stewarded through by an Abbott administration could contain a move to first-past-the-post for the lower house (and possibly some other scheme either to reduce the power of the Senate or to make it harder for minor parties to hold the balance of power). Perhaps an Australian House of Lords, or at least reserved seats for (Christian) religious leaders, as in the Lords?

Of course, such changes would require a referendum to get through, though if an Abbott Coalition government pushed for them, backed by a Murdoch media blitz, they'd stand a chance of getting through.
posted by acb at 4:40 AM on August 25, 2010


ah well doesn't matter - but I made the claim (by linking to an LSE academic) that India has a hung parliament. You said that I was being some "typical Aussie" and wasn't thinking about India, when I in fact was.
posted by wilful at 4:51 AM on August 25, 2010


Abbott's authoritarian/paternalist tendencies are well known. He did state some weeks before the election that he believes in "guided democracy".

Although to be fair to Abbott he probably meant guided by the timeless moral lessons of the Old Testament.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:52 AM on August 25, 2010


Old Testament. George Pell. Same diff.

You said that I was being some "typical Aussie" and wasn't thinking about India, when I in fact was.

FWIW, as the lone favouriter of obi's comment, I interpreted it as sarcastic acknowledgement that, holy shit, people here are thinking about India. And further, that it was in reference to vidur's comment, since that was the first place in this thread I saw explicit mention of India. Kiss and make up, now.
posted by Jimbob at 5:02 AM on August 25, 2010


Just so we're all aware, one of the men currently holding the balance of power is Bob Katter, who produced the bush poetry election ad from this previous post.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 5:04 AM on August 25, 2010


FWIW, as the lone favouriter of obi's comment, I interpreted it as sarcastic acknowledgement that, holy shit, people here are thinking about India.

I guess that is the problem with vague, sarcastic non-sequitar accusations of racism aimed at non-existent targets. They are easy to misconstrue.
posted by ninebelow at 5:43 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wilful, I'm sure you're a great bloke, but there's no need to make 10 comments out of 67 on your own post.

Let the thing breathe a bit.
posted by Wolof at 6:38 AM on August 25, 2010


I thought this article was a pretty interesting overview for those of us who know/knew very little about Australian politics: A guide to the Australian election for non-Australians.
posted by Perplexity at 6:57 AM on August 25, 2010


Had to laugh at this from Grog's Gamut:

"Abbott not wanting the Treasury to go through his costings at his point is a bit like me saying the ATO won’t be able to understand my tax return with the same depth as does my private accountant, so just trust me on what I say I am due as a refund. "

He doesn't actually want the top job, does he? Surely if he did he'd be making more of an effort to woo the independents.

PS: thanks, Alice Russel-Wallace. I only wish I'd remembered to use capitals, I'm sure the original Vane would be appalled by my laziness.
posted by harriet vane at 7:26 AM on August 25, 2010


This could be a somewhat naive take on the situation, but I confess: I am more excited by this recent turn of events than I have been by my own country's politics ... ever. (I'm young, don't read too much into that.) The thoughtful, no-nonsense way the Independents seem to be handling their sudden responsibility makes me genuinely hopeful ~ they even seem to be concerned with a more lasting kind of gain than bribes or pork! What's with that?

Here's Julia Gillard's response to the letter peacay quoted above. Short version: she goes through point by point, and expresses a keenness to give them pretty much everything they asked for (including, most excitingly, point 7, the full proposals for which will be given on Monday).

To me, this really feels like a real moment in time. A moment when civics (perhaps) could rise above politics, when real talk (maybe) could rise above spin, and when the national interest (possibly) could rise above the special interests.

RISE ABOVE, YOU CRAZY DIAMONDS. RISE ABOVE.
posted by Rumpled at 7:34 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm trying not to get too excited, because then if it all goes horribly wrong (or just returns to business as usual) I won't be so bitterly disappointed. But it does look like these independents have been cheesed off for quite a while and have seized the chance to have their say while everyone's listening to them for a change.
posted by harriet vane at 7:45 AM on August 25, 2010


It's been a long time since pols101 but isn't a hung parliament a good thing provided a government eventually forms because the resultant government's composition is more representative, if only slightly, and the lead party has made compromises for the support of the coalition partners thus pleasing more voters and simultaneously making radical change less likely or at least more difficult. When half the country disagrees with the other half isn't the best thing a dirty compromise that pleases nobody?
posted by doublehappy at 12:04 PM on August 25, 2010


This election is a hoot. Abbot's refusal to have his proposed budget costed by Treasury is quite understandable. A Treasury assessment could result in different figures than the privately commissioned auditor came up with. And how would that look like for the coalition?

Oh, and parliament rang. Do you want to have a coffee with Julia to discuss climate change?
posted by Kerasia at 3:35 PM on August 25, 2010


Is it fairtrade coffee with organic, non-GM soy milk sourced within 150km?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:15 PM on August 25, 2010


Abbot's refusal to have his proposed budget costed by Treasury is quite understandable. A Treasury assessment could result in different figures than the privately commissioned auditor came up with. And how would that look like for the coalition?

If they've only got the one set of figures, that's an unforgivable lack of preparation.
posted by pompomtom at 6:17 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, even the Melbourne Storm managed to keep two sets of figures simultaneously.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:39 PM on August 25, 2010


That feeling we're all feeling - it's schadenfreude I think. I'm loving it.
posted by awfurby at 7:49 PM on August 25, 2010


I think between this blog post by Peter Martin and Grog's blog post linked above it's reasonably clear that Abbott's costings were never meant to withstand scrutiny, and that they were planning on getting into power and then "finding" a budget black hole left by the former government so they didn't have to be held to them. (I've heard a couple of stories lately that suggest Hockey doesn't do numbers, and that if it isn't on a graph he wont understand it, so it's possibly the best they could do.) It's hard to see how this could be anything but fatal for Abbott, but anything is possible.

I'm also cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a minority parliament. The independents seem pretty cluey (even Katter, who is loopy, but probably not stupid), and I'm sure they realise that this is probably going to be the only real opportunity for electoral reform in a generation. We've had a number of minority state governments now, and they have generally worked okay, with the cross-benchers doing a reasonable job of moderating the excesses of majority government.

A number of commentators are suggesting that if the Libs get in they'll push for a new election soon, but it's difficult to tell whether that would necessarily be a good thing for them. With 11 months with a friendly Senate ahead of him, I can't imagine Abbott would be able to resist showing his true colours and would pretty comprehensively blow his chances of reelection, IMO.
posted by damonism at 8:01 PM on August 25, 2010


Abbott would be able to resist showing his true colours and would pretty comprehensively blow his chances of reelection.
And with the precedent of lopping off a first-term prime minister so recent, that could make the respectable, be-suited, climate-change-believing Member for Wentworth quite a busy man. Over the past few weeks I've wondered how the past four months may have played out on if Wilson Tuckey hadn't called Malcolm Turnbull's bluff when Turnbull made his 'like it, or dump me' call.

damonism, your Peter Martin link didn't work. Did you mean this article?
posted by Kerasia at 9:05 PM on August 25, 2010


Wolof, this post is mostly a forum for people to talk about the post-election results. I created it in order to talk about it. I don't think I'm stifling debate or being defensive (except about being snarked at as racist, which was a misunderstanding on both parts) or causing anyone any breathing problems.

But yes, now you mention it, I am a good bloke. Nice to be acknowledged sometimes. Thanks!

posted by wilful at 9:55 PM on August 25, 2010


I've noticed the usual right wing suspects are pushing for a new poll.

Could it be because the coalition only looks to have 73 seats and three of the five minor MPs hate their guts?

Nahhhhhhhhh.... Couldn't be....
posted by Talez at 10:00 PM on August 25, 2010


I always find Guy Rundle entertaining. Here are the best bits from today's Crikey:

And when such members begin to suggest that the process by which they were chosen could be reflexively acted on by both MPs and the public, the business-as-usual crowd panic about stability. Weird, isn't it? Post-election Iraq has been without a government for several months, with no working coalition in sight, and this is an example of democracy at work. Australia has a few days or weeks with no majority party but a process of rational and open negotiation, and it's a disaster.

...

Why is Dennis Shanalamadingdong's idea of a whole new election the 'sensible' idea, while Oakeshott's idea that the people who actually have been elected form a government seen as the whacky one? The Constitution recognises parliament, the GG as head-of-state, and her/his appointed ministers as government. It has nothing to say about prime ministers or parties.

So Shanahan's suggestion is that the system has failed because it worked.

...

The fetishisation of 'stability', as if the country was Bosnia-Herzegovina one heartbeat away from a shooting war, is a con. If we are so pusillanimous as to entirely subordinate our political process to the flickering of the global markets, then we may as well let Goldman Sachs choose the government.

Stability is the very achievement that allows a country the luxury of uncertainty, when isolated outbreaks of actual public will throw up an ensemble capable of creating a new situation. I'm under no illusion that the rural independents are about to put the whole constitution and political apparatus into play. But they don't need to.

posted by wilful at 10:18 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


then we may as well let Goldman Sachs choose the government

Yeah, well that's the Libs happy, at least. Don't tell me you don't know people who'd be in favour of the idea.
posted by pompomtom at 11:51 PM on August 25, 2010


@Kerasia: Yes, that's the one. I fail at previewing.
posted by damonism at 12:05 AM on August 26, 2010


My favourite photo of the Independents is here. Does anyone know who they were scoring?
From the prescient article in the Fairfax press on 5th of August.
I am quietly encouraged that the independents have been pretty reasonable in what they have said (frighteningly revolutionary if you are invested in the two party system) and have acted consistently with their words to date. It's that second step that usually gets lost in Australian politics.
To tell the truth, if they end up delivering what they are hoping to, I will be breathless at the degree of progress, and will eat Bob Katter's hat.
posted by bystander at 12:57 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You said that I was being some "typical Aussie" and wasn't thinking about India, when I in fact was.

What? I'll say it again - I wasn't talking to you or about you or about anything you said.

a misunderstanding on both parts

No, just yours. I would've thought 'Indiana' would've been a dead giveaway that I was joking, but apparently not.

I guess that is the problem with vague, sarcastic non-sequitar

Nobody asked you, limey. Everything that's wrong with Australia and India is your fault. Also, it's spelled 'vauge'.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:42 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


obiwanwasabi your irony may swoop, like a nesting magpie, over the heads of many. Just don't let it come back and bite you.
posted by Kerasia at 1:59 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what threads about politics need?

More snark.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:39 AM on August 26, 2010


bystander, that photo is great. I love that Katter is holding his upside down, it's just typical. Would love to know the story behind it if anyone knows...
posted by harriet vane at 3:22 AM on August 26, 2010


That photo was the trio scoring one of Craig Emerson's answers in QT. The scorecards amused everyone but Harry, I think.

I work in the Parliament in a non-partisan capacity. The next few months are going to be fascinating.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:27 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]




Of course the real question is which party has more freemasons?
posted by pompomtom at 4:26 PM on August 26, 2010


Of course the real question is which party has more freemasons?

I LOL'd.
posted by Jimbob at 6:23 PM on August 26, 2010




Now Steve Fielding, the foremost Religious-Right nutter in the Senate (and the reason Australia almost got mandatory internet censorship) is threatening to use his (temporary) balance of power in the Senate to block supply. You stay classy, Steve.
posted by acb at 6:49 PM on August 26, 2010


Quiet, Steve, the adults are trying to talk.
posted by Jimbob at 6:54 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I cannot remember an election where there has been so much focus on parliamentary processes and parliamentarian quality, or lack of. I think this is a very good thing.

Andrew West, writing in the SMH thinks politics should not be a career "progressing seamlessly from university, to ministerial staff, to a safe seat, to the cabinet, to a fat corporate consultancy" (looking at you, NSW Labor Right). Former NSW premier Nathan Rees had the gall to say that ex-parliamentarians risked the dole queue if they weren't allowed to cash in on their time in politics (paraphrased). What does that say about their talent and skills? Not much.

West offers nine steps to a political revolution:
1. extension from 1 to 5 years of the ban on retired parliamentarians taking corporate lobbying jobs that have any contact with government.
2 increase back-bencher pay to $150k and reduce the superannuation (pension) to 30% or $45k payable if elected for three terms or more.
3. introduce public funding of elections and reduce donations
4. introduce a system for preseleletions where party supporters registered by the AEC preselect candidates for their party.
5. change the required legislation to allow public sector workers - nurses, firemen, etc - to return to their job after their term in elected public life.
6. reduce the number of ministerial staff appointed from outside the public service to 3
7. legislate that no one can hold a leadership position – president, secretary, etc – in a trade union or professional association without having worked a minimum of three years in the industry that the union covers
8. introduce a minimum age of 30 for candidates for state parliament and 35 for candidates for federal parliament
9. require candidates for the lower house to have lived a minimum of five years in the electorate (or adjoining electorates) they wish to represent.

None of these are radical and none disadvantage the electors or the democratic process. Many are designed to make parliament more representative of the electorate; more teachers and technical folk, less lawyers and career pollies.

The uncertainty of this election has given the country breathing space to discuss these issues and I hope we continue, as a political federation, to talk about the processes of our parliaments and the qualities we seek in our elected representatives.
posted by Kerasia at 7:04 PM on August 26, 2010


Ritchie: "Political lobbyists ready for 'golden age'"

Hah! I can just see Bob Brown and Christine Milne scoffing at the arrogance of these self-serving dudes.
posted by Kerasia at 7:13 PM on August 26, 2010


Quiet, Steve, the adults are trying to talk.
Indeed. He's obviously keen for a double dissolution election where the lower senate quota will greatly increase his chances of re-election. But to think that he'll get the support of every single coalition senator in blocking supply is clearly nuts.

As I type this I notice that Abbott has announced that they won't be.

Fielding can still side with the coalition to block substantive legislation of course, but that just means a minority Labor government would have to put through stuff with broad consensus between now and July. Given that they're going to be doing that kind of thing for however long their term lasts, this won't be any real hardship.
posted by GeckoDundee at 8:06 PM on August 26, 2010


1. extension from 1 to 5 years of the ban on retired parliamentarians taking corporate lobbying jobs that have any contact with government.
I think this is fine, and could probably go further.

2 increase back-bencher pay to $150k and reduce the superannuation (pension) to 30% or $45k payable if elected for three terms or more.
I don't really care about how much they get paid, but I do care about their superannuation contributions - it should be the same as everyone else.

3. introduce public funding of elections and reduce donations
Yes.

4. introduce a system for preseleletions where party supporters registered by the AEC preselect candidates for their party.
Yep - makes sense to me.

5. change the required legislation to allow public sector workers - nurses, firemen, etc - to return to their job after their term in elected public life.
Also a good idea - we need to get representatives from all walks of life, and if this idea helps then good.

6. reduce the number of ministerial staff appointed from outside the public service to 3
Not sure about this... The real issue is quality and I don't really know how you mandate quality.

7. legislate that no one can hold a leadership position – president, secretary, etc – in a trade union or professional association without having worked a minimum of three years in the industry that the union covers
Hm, but what does "worked" mean?

8. introduce a minimum age of 30 for candidates for state parliament and 35 for candidates for federal parliament
I can't agree with this. Sure it's a bit weird that Wyatt Roy got elected at the same time as he first ever voted in an election, but if you can vote at 18, then you should be able to participate fully in the entire process.

9. require candidates for the lower house to have lived a minimum of five years in the electorate (or adjoining electorates) they wish to represent.
Yes, sort of. I agree, parachuting high-profile candidates into an electorate is shit, but sometimes people do move house.
posted by awfurby at 8:31 PM on August 26, 2010


Antony Green provides the actual, you know, facts, that Steve Fielding would be too thick to get his head around.
posted by wilful at 10:11 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Former NSW premier Nathan Rees had the gall to say that ex-parliamentarians risked the dole queue if they weren't allowed to cash in on their time in politics (paraphrased).
It was a great deal more nuanced than that. The hearing was in the context of what was considered and what was not considered lobbying: an MP who had been lawyer or a journalist, for instance, might after leaving Parliament work again for a firm or a newspaper which dealt with public affairs---and they defined news coverage itself as a lobbying activity---despite not themselves working on any lobbying activity. They also went into the areas of Government boards and into charities and NGOs. Is Rotary a lobbyist organisation, or Greenpeace, or or the Red Cross? They certainly have contact with and advise Governments.

In other words, a too-strict separation period would stop Maxine McKew from taking any media job for years, and it would have stopped Jeff Kennett from doing any of the work around depression he's doing now. It's incompatible with:
5. change the required legislation to allow public sector workers - nurses, firemen, etc - to return to their job after their term in elected public life
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:36 PM on August 26, 2010


Less than a day after the shadow finance minister, Andrew Robb, said "We don't want to have a fight with these guys but we're not going to be dictated to and not tug our forelock like Julia [Gillard] has on every issue," Abbott's tugging his forelock and having his policies costed by Treasury.

The condition is that nobody but his party and the independents see the result.

Can anyone explain to me what two days of stonewalling, followed by a capitulation on condition of secrecy, have achieved apart from making Abbott's budget look dodgy as hell? I genuinely don't understand what the strategy is here, and I assume there is one.
posted by Georgina at 10:37 PM on August 26, 2010


I assume there is one.

There's your mistake right there.
posted by wilful at 10:38 PM on August 26, 2010


I think the list is bullshit. Not because of any particular matter, but because it fundamentally mis-diagnoses the issues besetting Australian politics.

Of course, I don't know that much about NSW politics, I am talking about Federal concerns.

1. extension from 1 to 5 years of the ban on retired parliamentarians taking corporate lobbying jobs that have any contact with government.

Why, what's the case that lobbyists are too influential? or that ex-pollies are effective lobbyists? Bit of a non-issue methinks, one of perception far more than reality. Maybe it's an issue in NSW. In Victoria it's true that developers spend a lot of money on both parties and seem to get their way in outer suburban areas - but there's no real evidence that that is due to ex-pollies opening doors.

2 increase back-bencher pay to $150k and reduce the superannuation (pension) to 30% or $45k payable if elected for three terms or more.


No problem with increasing pay, but why not have super at 9% like the rest of us?

3. introduce public funding of elections and reduce donations
Well of course elections are publicly funded already.

Is the real issue in Australian politics too much money? All they spend it on is advertising, and everybody's complaint is the quality of the ads, not the number of them. less money wouldn't mean we hear more policies, I don't think.

4. introduce a system for preselections where party supporters registered by the AEC preselect candidates for their party.

increasing the formalisation and structures of parties doesn't help anything. Totally stackable, a meaningless reform.

5. change the required legislation to allow public sector workers - nurses, firemen, etc - to return to their job after their term in elected public life.
I'm not sure what the issue is here, again. If people want to seriously devote at least a year to running for office, then three or more years in Parliament, I don't know what stops them. (Maybe this is a NSW stricture?)

6. reduce the number of ministerial staff appointed from outside the public service to 3.

he's basically saying ban Ministerial staffers. Having worked in a Minister's office, I can in fact see their utter necessity. The idea that they're sinecures suggests to me that he hasn't ever worked at any level of government.

Which is not to say there isn't an issue with advisers. They do need to be better regulated, and their roles more formally ascribed.

7. legislate that no one can hold a leadership position – president, secretary, etc – in a trade union or professional association without having worked a minimum of three years in the industry that the union covers

Every union or professional association that I'm aware of involves democratic elections. Surely this is a matter for members? personally (a union member) wouldn't vote for someone who hadn't worked in the industry for longer than that.


8. introduce a minimum age of 30 for candidates for state parliament and 35 for candidates for federal parliament


Pointless ageism. Sure I agree with the sentiment, but this is not any sort of issue.

9. require candidates for the lower house to have lived a minimum of five years in the electorate (or adjoining electorates) they wish to represent.

Why not let the voters decide?
posted by wilful at 10:56 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well I guess it's more moderate than my plan for parliamentery reform, which essentially involves the selection of non-incumbent candidates by a process modeled on jury duty, and a "None of the above" option on the ballot paper...a man can dream, can't he?
posted by Jimbob at 4:14 AM on August 27, 2010


I think Jello Biafra spoke of that "none of the above" model years ago.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:48 AM on August 27, 2010


And Sydney philosopher John Burnheim spoke of the sortition method of choosing representatives years ago too. He called it demarchy.
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:12 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but he wasn't in a punk band.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:36 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


they defined news coverage itself as a lobbying activity

Ironically, News Ltd is doing it's absolute best to live up to this description.
posted by smoke at 4:16 PM on August 28, 2010


Yeah, but he wasn't in a punk band.

Nick Cave voted most preferred prime minister.
posted by Kerasia at 2:50 PM on August 29, 2010


No way! Not after caving in to the Warren Ellis led coup against Mick Harvey!
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:05 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


And in a way I'm yearning to be done with all this measuring of truth...

Yeah, sounds about right.
posted by pompomtom at 11:16 PM on August 29, 2010


Nooooo!
posted by Kerasia at 3:26 PM on August 31, 2010


Oh good grief, why won't Fielding just go away already?

Meanwhile... Wilkie backs Labor. So that gives Labor a group of 74 to draw on, and the Coalition 73 since Crook has agreed to back them.
posted by harriet vane at 12:01 AM on September 2, 2010


Mr Rabbit's shambles over the costings has got to hurt him surely?
posted by wilful at 12:31 AM on September 2, 2010


I'd hope so. But I can't help but feel that the (not unreasonably) long time the 3 independents are taking to make their decision is because they're waiting for Abbott to call and say how sorry he is for not paying enough attention to them. If he does, I worry that all will be forgiven, and Abbott will get his 76.
posted by harriet vane at 7:19 AM on September 2, 2010


Labor has the numbers.
posted by flabdablet at 10:47 PM on September 6, 2010


Mr Windsor said providing stability for the country had been a key factor in his decision.

"If a government is formed, how long could it last and that is a key deliberation in our view," Mr Windsor said.

"I make this plea to country people, some of whom don't agree with the Labor party. This isn't about philosophy, philosophy in terms of both these parties died about a decade ago," Mr Windsor said.

"This is about using the political system to advance the people we represent and those people in regional Australia."

Mr Windsor also cited Labor's National Broadband Network as a "critical" reason for his backing.

‘‘There’s an enormous opportunity for regional Australians to engage with the infrastructure of this century and ... I thought (that) was too good an opportunity to miss,’’ he said.

"You do it once you do it right and you do it with fibre."
Now there's a pollie with his head screwed on properly. Well played, that man.
posted by flabdablet at 10:49 PM on September 6, 2010


How's the internet filtering software going to cope with people accessing the web at a zillion terabytes per millisecond?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:23 PM on September 6, 2010


Very pleased to find out that I was too pessimistic earlier in this thread. But doesn't the lefty coalition have to put forward a Speaker? Doesn't that make it 75-74? Or am I missing a factor?

I'm seeing a lot of "we'll all be rooned" on my Facebook list. What is it exactly that people are afraid of happening? I'd look over at Bolt's blog but I haven't got my fireproof undies on. Plus I'm not sure it'd actually inform me about what they think might happen.
posted by harriet vane at 12:59 AM on September 7, 2010


75-74 is still a majority.
posted by flabdablet at 1:02 AM on September 7, 2010


And I'm tipping that all the "we'll be rooned" sentiments are coming from people who don't know any better than to take the Murdoch press seriously.
posted by flabdablet at 1:03 AM on September 7, 2010


And here's a lovely piece of Bolt antidote from Crikey. Nice pic of him, too.
posted by flabdablet at 1:06 AM on September 7, 2010


I'd look over at Bolt's blog but I haven't got my fireproof undies on.

Well, you can get a humorous glimpse at the people commenting on his blog via the #BoltBlogComment Twitter hashtag.

Brief summary: "Oakeshott and Windsor are TRAITORS! Welcome to COMMUNISM! Mongrel dogs! This should start a civil war!...deranged...treacherous bastards...imbeciles...I'm going to throw up!"

Good times. Gooood times.
posted by Jimbob at 1:14 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


How's the internet filtering software going to cope with people accessing the web at a zillion terabytes per millisecond?

Fortunately the chances of the internet filtering legislation getting through this parliament are very small. The type of filtering that Conroy wants, anyway. Who knows, maybe they'll come up with a policy that isn't completely moronic this time around.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:44 AM on September 7, 2010


But doesn't the lefty coalition have to put forward a Speaker?
Both "sides" (though I don't think we're allowed to use terms like that any more) have already agreed to parliamentary reforms which include an "independent" Speaker and pairing for the Speaker. The duck by the oboe could no doubt tell us a lot more about this but my understanding is that the speaker will be independent in the sense that they will not attend Party Room / Caucus meetings rather than being independent in the strict sense. The way Oakeshott was talking though, I reckon he's off to mull over the offer of the office of Speaker, so we could well end up with a Speaker who is independent in both senses.

That would be an "interesting" choice as he would have to take a back seat to the sort of work that you'd think an independent's constituents would expect of them.

The "pairing" arrangement just means that someone from the other "side" (I'm doing it again, sorry) would sit out any vote so as not to benefit from not supplying the speaker.

The business of being rooned is exactly what you'd expect from certain elements and makes no sense. All the non-crazy indies have agreed to is supply and frivolous no confidence motions. In other words, they've agreed to let Labor govern but not to passing any of their legislation. This means Labor really only have the benefit of forming the Executive and being able to bring Government Bills rather than Private Members' Bills.

To give an example, the executive power to exclude aliens would (probably) have allowed Abbott to establish a Pacific Solution without passing any new laws. So by not forming Government, he will lose that.

The business of Private Members' Bills will be interesting, and is probably going to see some reform too. One of the main reasons PMBs rarely passed is that they usually didn't get the Whip (that is, the party toecutters didn't lean on anyone to vote for them). Most of these which are successful get through on conscience votes. A good example would be the Therapeutic Goods Amendment Act 2005 which originated in the Senate, had wide cross party support and basically took the power to ban RU486 away from Abbott (who was Health Minister at the time). Expect to see a lot more of these with a lot of them originating from the Coalition and getting passed (through the Reps anyway).

So imagine Labor introducing the Really Fair Work Bill 2010. It has a provision for making all corporations hand over 50% of their profits to employees on the 1st May every year. It won't have a snowball's of getting passed. However, if say some coalition backbencher were to introduce the Stamp Out the Evil Curse of the Pineapple Weevil Bill (banning Hawaiian pineapples on bio-security grounds) as a private member's bill, it would probably get through. A bill like that would've had no chance before, but now there are probably more votes in the House of Reps that can be assumed to go against the government than for it, so expect to see a lot of that.

What about using executive power to push stuff through without getting bills passed? That would probably have been Abbott's preferred MO had he won, but it won't fly. The independents have strongly implied that they will withdraw their support if that sort of shenanigans goes on.

So expect Labor to be in government, but expect all the laws that come from it to come from somewhere to the coalition side of centre.

And it will all get amended by the Senate to be far more left again.

It will be very interesting. (Sorry for the long post).
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:11 AM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Independents seem to be doing an awesome job. Let's hope they can keep it up.
posted by Coaticass at 2:58 AM on September 7, 2010


Thanks, Gecko, that's fascinating. We're in unchartered waters for Aussie politics, so far I'm liking it but I'm not sure what all the implications are. I suppose hardly anyone knows, we're just doing the 'suck it and see' test.
posted by harriet vane at 7:44 AM on September 7, 2010


I found this worth reading: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/09/08/let-the-great-unhinging-begin/
posted by wilful at 6:29 PM on September 8, 2010


I concur. Linkified.
posted by flabdablet at 11:11 PM on September 8, 2010


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