So, the new Victorian Legislative Council is looking reasonably established. It’s… quite something. Though I’m not sure what, precisely. A shambles? A nightmare? A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a multicoloured cloth of sheerest what-were-they-thinking? A gift to comedians?
Here it is, in all its awe-inspiring, terrible glory
Liberal Party – 14 seats
Labor Party – 13 seats
Greens – 4 seats
The Nationals – 2 seats
Shooters and Fishers Party – 2 seats
Sex Party – 2 seats
Country Alliance – 1 seat
Democratic Labour Party – 1 seat
Vote 1 Local Jobs – 1 seat
Let us take a moment of silence to contemplate this truly diverse and weird array. And to bow our heads in compassion for the Andrews government, who are going to have to try to get legislation through it.
I mean, seriously, what do you even do with that?
A few disjointed thoughts, because this has been a very long few weeks for me.
- Hey, all those commentaries of mine weren’t a waste of time after all! Five micro-parties! Woohoo! Except – oh dear, did we really, truly need five of them? And did quite so many of them have to be on the right? (Though I am counting my blessings that we didn’t get People Power, at least. Or Rise Up Australia. Or the LDP. Actually, there really were a number of worse options in the mix.)
- Good grief, people, why must you vote above the line? Why?
- And as for you, ALP and the Coalition, what the hell were you thinking with your preference deals? Is dealing with one or two more Greens in the Upper House really worse than this mess? Truly?
- Wow, the rural electorates are really pissed off with the Nationals, aren’t they? Only two seats for the Nats, with one picked up by the Country Alliance and two by the Shooters and Fishers. Assuming that this is what the electorate actually meant to do – and in Northern Victoria, at least, I think it was – that’s a pretty loud message that the electorate does not trust city folk, and also doesn’t trust the Nationals to protect their interests. (The whole Hazelwood debacle and Napthine’s response to it quite clearly didn’t help in Eastern Victoria – Morwell went from being super-safe Nationals to marginal, with an 11% swing towards Labor). The Nationals might want to have a think about that.
- Despite a swing of 2.5% statewide towards Labor in the Lower House, they actually lost seats in the Upper House, going from 16 to 13 out of 40 – but they didn’t lose them to the Liberals, who went from 18 to 14, or the Nationals, who went from three to two. The seats were lost to the Greens, who picked up one, the DLP, and the four new senate parties.
- Seriously, Labor, you need to start to work with the Greens. You’re winning seats off Green preferences, you’re losing the left of the political spectrum, and, quite frankly, half the electorate already thinks you are in an alliance with the Greens anyway. If you’re going to suffer for this association (and you are clearly doing so in some areas), you might as well get some benefit out of it, too.
I think if the Victorian Electorate sent any message this election, it was a resounding “No” to both major parties. True, we wanted the Liberal Party out, but it seems we couldn’t quite stomach voting the Labor Party in. Add to this some ill-advised preference deals, and the rural electorate being well and truly (and justifiably) pissed off with the government and you get this mess. Does it actually represent Victorians? Well, maybe. It’s very difficult to tell.
My mother texted me a couple of weeks before the election to tell me that she thought she had made up her mind, but then she had heard Daniel Andrews speaking, and she wasn’t sure if she could bring herself to do it… (I suggested she make absolutely sure she didn’t hear any Greens speaking, or else she might find herself stuck voting for the Sex Party. She didn’t thank me.)
There’s an Isaac Asimov story about a future election in which they poll one person, carefully selected for his embodiment of the zeitgeist of the electorate. He doesn’t vote, he just answers a number of questions, and the computer discerns what the political outcome should be.
I suspect that this time around, Asimov’s futuristic government might have chosen my mother. Because while I can’t imagine her consciously selecting either four Greens or two Shooters and Fishers, there really was absolutely nobody who she truly liked the look of.
And, sadly, I think she speaks for the whole electorate in this.
(Coming soon, if I have the energy – a fun little tour through the ALP’s proposed policies, and what’s likely to happen to them with this Legislative Council in the mix… because just in case you weren’t paying attention, nobody has a majority here. Not even close…)
[Edited to add – while about 93% of the vote is counted, there is, of course, still room for change. Nonetheless, these parties do all look to be highly likely to gain seats, and I think we can be quietly confident that the Council is still going to be a complete debacle. Certainly, the chances of either Labor or the Coalition achieving a majority in their own right are vanishingly small.]