Hung Parliament # 2

I don’t even know what to say about the election at this point.

I mean, on the one hand, there is a certain amount to be amused by.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard the leaders of four separate political parties all declare victory in one election before, and yet that did seem to be what Joyce, Di Natale, Shorten and Turnbull were all doing on Saturday night / late Sunday morning.  And I did enjoy the ABC’s coverage, with Crabbe and Salesy performing Chat 10, Politics 3 along with guest star Penny Wong (yes, I know, there were other people on my television, too.  I didn’t need them.  Well, OK, Antony Green is important, but for me, it was the women who utterly stole the show.).  And my evil side is not immune to a certain Schadenfreude – Turnbull called this double dissolution because he didn’t like dealing with a feral Senate, and the new Senate looks to be even more feral, with a hung parliament to boot.

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever actually enjoyed reading an Andrew Bolt article before.  That was… something.

But on the other hand, there is a fair bit to be sad about.  Turnbull may have deserved political chaos, but I’m not sure that we, as Australians, deserved Pauline Hanson (x4???) and Derryn Hinch.  Moreover, the loss of Ricky Muir, while not unexpected, is truly saddening.  I think he’s the only politician on any Senate ticket since I became eligible to vote in 1993 that my mother and I have both approved of – indeed, I rather think that my immediate family all put Ricky in their top three.  Given our rather diverse political views, this is quite astonishing, and I had begun to have hopes that perhaps Muir’s appeal was broader than I had anticipated.

Maybe once they start checking out the below the line votes, he will look better?  I can only hope.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.  Are we about to have another hung parliament?  An Abbot – Turnbull – Abbot moment?  God help us, are we going to end up with Scott Morrison as PM?  Or will we be heading back to the polls in a few weeks, to see if we can get it right on a second try?  (And if so, can the people of Dickson work just a little harder at getting rid of Peter Dutton this time?  You nearly did it, and that was an excellent effort – let’s see if you can go the whole way on a second run.)

Also, does this mean we are going to get another Hung Grand Final?

And… what happens if it turns out that Australia really meant it when they voted ‘neither, thanks’ and we get the same result on a second try?  Will the politicians have to start working together?  Is this even possible?

As for me, I’ve had about as much vote-watching and tiny party analysis as I can take for now.  I’ll be on the couch, watching Keating! The Musical until further notice.

Don’t start the next election without me.

Politics: Liveblogging Decision Day

10:04 am

You heard it first here…

On our intranet as of five minutes ago:

Due to events happening in Canberra today, Their Excellencies, the Governor-General and Mr Bryce have had to cancel their visit to [my workplace] this afternoon. We will inform you when a new date has been confirmed.

Looks like someone will be visiting Ms Bryce and asking permission to form government.

That, or she’s about to sack the whole lot of them…

1:43 pm

Katter has declared for the Libs.

Oakshotte and Windsor are holding a press conference at 3pm.


2:47 pm

Still no government.

My favourite article so far today is the one that is speculating rampantly on the basis of scrawled notes photographed on Oakshotte’s manila folder earlier this afternoon.

Every time I go to anyone else’s office, they are busy reloading one of the news websites. There is absolutely no work being done in our lab this afternoon. Everyone is busily speculating on government. And then calling in to me every few minutes to ask if we have a prime minister yet…

So far, we don’t.

3:24 pm

I think I speak for all Australians here when I say, “Oh, get ON with it!”

3:33 pm

ALP!  Thank heavens for that.

3:41 pm

Oh dear.  Windsor probably should *not* have just said that they backed Labor because they thought Liberal was more likely to go back to the polls fast… because he thought that the Liberal Party would have a better chance of winning.

This is not necessarily the way to convince the part of the country which voted Liberal that you are being impartial and working in the country’s interests, not your own.

On the other hand, I did like Oakeshotte’s remark about nobody having a mandate and that Parliament ought to have a ‘swear jar’ that people would need to put money into if they used the word.

And now I *swear* I’ll stop posting about the election every half hour.

Politics: Federal Election – Hung Parliament and its Discontents

You know, I think at this point in time, Australians are in fact quite unanimous on the subject of the election. We want it to be over.

On twitter, it appears that Old Spice Guy has something to say to us:

RT @oldspice Hello Australia. Look at your Parliament, now back at me. Sadly, it isn’t me, but it is hung like me. #ausvotes

(this is definitely the funniest thing I’ve read all weekend)

In other news, it would appear that Tony Crook, the appealingly-named Nationals candidate for O’Connor, has told the world that he was planning to act as an independent if he beat Wilson Tuckey, and will not join the Coalition (expect a post about him later). Indeed, I gather the WA Nationals generally are talking as though they plan to secede from the Coalition. Except that they probably will vote with the Coalition anyway, because they are anti-mining tax.

What this election clearly needs is for people to start crossing the floor. Nobody’s done that in ages, and it’s the one thing missing from this hung parliament madness. Turnbull for Labor, that’s what we need!

… I sense a double-dissolution election in the next year or so. And I don’t like either Abbott’s *or* Gillard’s chances of survival unless one of them manages to pull off something spectacular.

And I did love Sarah Hanson-Young’s big happy smile on election night. Everyone else was looking grim, but you could see from her face that she was thinking “We got a seat! In the House of Representatives! And the balance of power in the Senate! Hung parliament my foot – the Greens won this election!!” The one bright spot in the whole evening, really.

On a more serious note, I do hope the Greens can learn very quickly how to be productive in the Senate and the House of Reps. If we go to a double dissolution, I fear that a lot of people will return to the major parties just for the sake of a result.

Edited to add: Tracking votes through my Electorate and then my booth on the AEC website, I’ve found my Senate vote! It’s very exciting. I can tell it’s mine, because I’m apparently the only person in my booth to vote for that particular candidate, and one of five in my entire electorate. I wonder who the other four people were…?  Actually, I have a pretty good idea about two of them.

(they don’t seem to have got as far as preferencing it yet, however. I can see, looking at the preferences, that my little below-the-line vote is going to be keeping the counters quite busy before it finally comes to rest in its Green home)

Politics: Hung Parliament and Rob Oakeshott

Rob Oakeshott has been the member for Lyne, a coastal electorate in northern New South Wales that borders Windsor’s electorate of New England, since 2008. He’s the youngest of the three conservative independents, at age 40, and the only one with a blog (I think I like politicians who blog). He started his political life at the NSW State level in 1992, as the National Party member for Port Macquarie, and left the party in 1998. This seems to have been partly because he was pro-republic and partly because he felt that property developers were having too much of an influence on the party. He describes himself as economically conservative and socially progressive, which is promising.

Reading his website, I rather like the sound of him.

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Politics: Hung Parliament and Adam Bandt

Let’s now have a look at Adam Bandt, the new MP representing the seat of Melbourne (ie, the inner city and surrounds). Adam Bandt is the second Green ever to be elected to the House of Representatives (Michael Organ of Cunningham, NSW, was the first, back in 2002), and to say the Greens are pretty excited about this is to put it mildly (the Greens also still have a small chance of getting a seat in Grayndler, but I can’t make the AEC website cough up the numbers for me yet). In the past, Melbourne has always been a safe Labor seat.

I wrote about the Greens’ policies previously, however it’s worth being aware that, once pre-selected, Green candidates are pretty much allowed to vote their conscience. This is reflective of Green membership and voters alike incidentally; whenever I scrutineer, I can’t help noticing that the overwhelming majority of below-the-line votes in the Senate have a Greens candidate at number 1, and I don’t even know why we bother telling people how to vote, because unlike Labor and Liberal (where you know after about two minutes of scrutineering exactly what was on their HTV cards because virtually everyone follows them), Greens preferences tend to go everywhere. The vast majority go to Labor before Liberal, but when it comes to the small parties, everyone makes up their own mind, and there is no obvious pattern to the ballot papers. I like to think that this shows that Greens supporters are thinking people. A less kind, but perhaps equally accurate description, might be that they are an entire party of loose cannons.

Still, looking at what Bandt says on his website, I suspect Bandt’s conscience isn’t going to give me any problems in terms of what he votes for. Here’s a bit from his front page:

I live and work in Melbourne. As a barrister and former partner in a major national law firm, I’ve dedicated years to public interest campaigning and workplace rights, fighting the exploitation of sweatshop labour and increasing the wages of our lowest paid workers.

I will be a stronger representative for Melbourne than a Labor politician forced to toe the factional or party line.

My priorities for Melbourne will kickstart a 21st-century clean energy boom and help accelerate Australia’s transition to a world-leading sustainable economy. I will advocate for Melbourne residents’ real values on issues like refugees, health, water & public transport.

Incidentally, I’m tickled to note that Bandt, like many of the Greens, has an official blog. I don’t think any of the other parties have been getting into the blog scene, and it’s very reflective of the Green demographic. I should also note that in searching google for Adam Bandt I found a variety of virulently anti-Greens sites, claiming that Bandt is a hypocrite who thinks it’s ‘legitimate to steal if you had no money’ (the quotes from him do not support this statement), and that the Greens’ policies will lead to children dying of cancer. The Greens in general and Adam Bandt in particular are clearly inspiring some very strong emotions both for and against them.

Adam Bandt, formerly of Slater and Gordon and a man with very strong ties with the unions (and was in fact backed by the Electrical Trades Union to the tune of $350,000 – an unprecedented amount in the world of Greens political funding), has already stated that he will back Labor. This isn’t yet enough to give Labor a majority, and will probably take him out of conversations with the independents. I think I’ll give Green’s member and political commentator Robyn Eckersley the final word on this:

“The Greens need to think very seriously about what it is that’s fundamental that they really have to stand firm on…politics necessarily involves comprise but it can’t involve comprising the really important things, and we’ve seen that Labor’s done that and they’ve been punished severely.”

I really hope they can do so.

Politics: Hung Parliament and Tony Windsor

Let’s move on now to Tony Windsor, another of the conservative Independents currently holding the fate of the nation in their hands. Windsor is the member for New England, which is not, as some might think, in the USA, but is in fact a rural electorate in far northern New South Wales.

Windsor appears to have been an Independent from the start, and consistently beats the Nationals in a formerly safe National seat. He started off in the NSW State Government in 1991 and moved to the Federal Government in 2001. He is a primary producer (farmer) with a degree in economics, and he is incredibly popular in his electorate – he got 71% of the primary vote in 2007 – though it’s actually really hard to find out exactly what he stands for from his site. Apparently “Tony’s goal is to make all Members aware of the impact of Legislation on country communities and particularly the New England Electorate.”

Here’s a bit more of his CV:

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Politics: Hung Parliament and Bob Katter

Lordy. Apparently the Great Australian Public voted ‘Hell, no’. To everyone. For those overseas, or any Australians living in a small hole in the ground, we have a hung parliament. At present, of a possible 150 seats in the House of Representatives, Labor has 71, Liberal / National has 71, the Greens have 1, 4 seats are held by independents, and 4 are in doubt.

No party has any possibility of getting the 76 seats required to have a majority government. And, in effect, 14 million Australians have decided to have their government decided by four independents (Bob Katter, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie) and a Green (Adam Bandt). Incidentally, this is the first time a Green has got into the Lower House in Australia, and we also look to be having a record number of Greens in the Upper House – Antony Green was saying the Greens would have the balance of power in the Senate regardless of who won. In normal circumstances, this would be something I’d be jumping up and down about gleefully. In normal circumstances, I’d also love to talk about scrutineering last night. But everything is overshadowed by the mess in the House of Representatives.

This is, to put it mildly, not the result I had hoped for. Especially as three of the independents are former National Party members. Some hope for the left can be derived from the fact that they all want better telecommunications, and Labor definitely has the better policy here, and that according to Independent Bob Katter, “Warren Truss was the leader [of the Nationals] and he attacked me personally last night… and (Nationals Senate Leader) Barnaby Joyce in a similar piece of incredible unfortunateness.” Oops. Gillard, on the other hand, went out of her way to congratulate them all early. No flies on her.

So – and you just knew I’d be asking this – who are these four independents? And who, for that matter, is the Green? Let’s start with Bob Katter.

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Politics: Hung Parliament and Andrew Wilkie

Admittedly, we don’t yet know whether Andrew Wilkie will get in or not, but if he does, he will be the other Independent potentially deciding who gets to govern Australia. And, after a brief google, I’m rather hoping he does get in. Wilkie is the Independent candidate for Denison, an electorate in the Hobart/Glenorchy region of Tasmania, ‘a former Army lieutenant colonel and well known campaigner for truth in politics.’

What branch of the Army, you ask? Well, actually, it would appear that Wilkie was a senior intelligence officer at the Office of National Assessments, which is, I understand, a branch of ASIO, who in 2003 “resigned in protest at the Federal Government’s actions over the Iraq war”. (As Andrew said, oh, he’s thatguy…) The ABC interviewed him at the time, and you can find the transcript of a really interesting (and brief) interview with him here. He wrote a book about this, called Axis of Deceit, in which he talks about the way in which intelligence was manipulated to justify the Iraq war, and there are also a number of articles by and about him online on this general topic. He comes across as very intelligent and with lots of integrity. I like him already.

After his rather spectacular whistle-blowing, he joined the Australian Greens and stood against John Howard in Bennelong in 2004, where he got 16% of the primary vote. In 2007, he stood for the Senate in Tasmania as the second candidate (after Bob Brown), but the Greens didn’t get enough of a quote for two candidates. I’m not sure when or why he left the Greens; as far as I can tell, he still agrees with them on most things, but thinks that people are better served by Independents who don’t have to compromise to a political party. Anyway, he’s definitely standing as an Independent this time around, and, while he says he isn’t going to get too excited until he knows whether he has been elected, but he does have this to say:

“I am genuinely independent… I am going to put it to the Labor Party and the coalition to convince me that you can deliver stable government for three years, competent government for three years and ethical government for three years. I’ll support whichever party can do that.”

His website tells me:

I’m standing for election as part of my ongoing campaign for better government. The community is rightfully appalled by government dishonesty, reckless policies and self-interested politicians. I’ve been working to rectify this for much of the seven years since I was the only intelligence official in Australia, the UK and US to question the Iraq war publicly before Australia joined the invasion in 2003.

I’m fighting for the people of Denison in particular because for too long we’ve been denied our fair share of Federal money on account of the electorate being regarded as a safe Labor Party seat. As an Independent I’ll focus on the public interest, not party interests, and work with whoever wins the next Federal election to ensure more money is directed our way – starting with the money to rebuild or replace the Royal Hobart Hospital. I’ll also be a local Member who cares about the local community and is always available to help people in need.

I believe I have the skills, experience and views to represent the community effectively – please give me your number one vote at the Federal election. Feel free to contact me.

As a resident in a safe Labor seat, I can tell you that’s going to be a winning argument – as indeed, it appears it has been.

His ‘Big Issues’ section includes sensible policies on Disability (he supports the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and any policies that will leave people with disabilities and carers better off), Aged Care (better services, including assistance for those who want to stay at home and maintain their independence), Economic Stability (lots of infrastructure spending, though), Education (schools to be funded according to need, not whether they are private or public, and Austudy and Universities to be better funded), internet filtering (don’t bother), broadband (yes please), WorkChoices (never again), Poker machines (against), the Environment (opposed to the Gunns Pulp Mill and logging of old growth forests, concerned about climate change and cautiously in favour of an ETS, in favour of some kind of mining tax, but doesn’t think much of either of those proposed so far, commenting that “in both cases the policy appears to have been developed too quickly”), health (free, accessible care for all, including dental and mental health), pensions (bring them back into line with the cost of living) and asylum seekers (“Australia must honour the UN Refugee Convention to which it is a signatory. It must protect people fleeing persecution, war or violence, promptly hear their claims and give refuge to those in genuine need of asylum. The full weight of intelligence, police and legal capabilities should be brought to bear on the people smugglers”).

Actually, if you want to hear him going off on a rant on the subject of John Howard, people smuggling, and asylum seekers, you can read this article.

Yeah, I like him. Hell, I’m developing quite the crush on him – brains, courage and integrity, what’s not to like? If I were in Hobart, I’d vote for him. I have no problem whatsoever with him being one of the five people who choose our next government.