Monday, 15 August 2016

Wash-up part 1: the Australian election

We left on our trip North on the day of the Great Double Dissolution Election.   Election night was spent at Gilgandra, getting updates from the ABC website.

To my surprise I didn't comment, in the following days on the relevant blog about what I was hearing.  Possibly I felt my views were dangerous to express in Central/North Queensland.

Whatever.  Here is a review of what has happened just over 6 weeks after the election.

The most important news for me was that Mike Kelly has been re-elected as the Member for Eden Monaro.  While all the indicators (Sportsbet prices; number of supporters working prepoll booths) had suggested this was likely, it was still good to see.  As would be sensible Mike has been given the Shadow Ministry for Defence Industry and Support.

At a broader level things seem to have gone more or less as expected for both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  This isn't necessarily a good thing, because "expected" is not the same as "hoped for"!

House of Representatives

The Liberal Party (45 seats), despite its claim of not doing deals with minor parties, is clinging to Government with the support of the Liberal National Party (21 seats in Queensland) and The Nationals (10 seats from NSW and VIC).  While some of the dark side bit the dust (Clive who?) quite a number of folk whose policies and attitudes I dislike (Peter Dutton being the main one - he has more overt power than the Monk, who also got back) have returned.

Labour (I refuse to omit the 'u') got its big guns re-elected and Bill Shorten seems to be welded in place as Leader for the term of this Parliament.  That being said, media coverage is not being kind to Malcolm Turnbull and Shorten needs to kick a few goals quickly to stamp his authority on the Pary Room.  (I have noticed Anthony Albanese's face on TV more in the last 6 weeks than the previous 2 years.)

In terms of the cross benches (for the benefit of any international readers, that means folk not from the Liberal/National coalition or Labour parties) it was good to see:

  • Cathy McGowan being re-elected to Indi;
  • Andrew Wilkie being re-elected to Dension;
  • Adam Bandt holding on to Melbourne; and 
  • Rebecca Sharkie from the Nick Xenophon Team winning Mayo (especially as she booted Jamie Briggs).


On dear, oh dear.  When Malcolm Turnbull announced changes to the Senate voting arrangements I thought two things were supposed to happen:
  1. There would be fewer microparties involved in the election; and 
  2. Less cross-benchers would get elected.
Despite point 1 the Senate ballot paper in NSW was big enough to carpet the average Brooklyn apartment.  There were 41 groups on the paper.  Thank goodness we were able to allocate preferences above the line (although I found it difficult to find 6 parties worth supporting).  The resultant mess is illustrated in this pie chart (click to enlarge).

The outcome was:
  • Liberal/National    5
  • ALP                       4
  • Greens                   1
  • One Nation            1
  • Liberal Democrats 1
While it is a matter of deep regret that One Nation got a Senator for the State it should come as no surprise that ~6% of punters are extreme right-wingers.  It is a great surprise that the Liberal Democrat, David Leyonhjelm got up.  I had assumed he only got there last time by having the first position on the paper, and the mentally confused thought they were voting for the Coalition.  However, he was very active in the Parliament (and compared to the right-wingers of the Coalition, not too bad in a policy sense).

Nationally there were some good outcomes.  Pre-eminent amongst these was the election of 3 Nick Xenophon candidates from South Australia.  9 Greens is not a bad outcome - even with their vacuous Sarah Hanson-Young scraping in as 11th elected in SA. 

There were also some unfortunate results.  Seeing Brandis, Abetz and Benardi re-elected was a great shame but Party machines are always going to throw up results like that.  The biggest shame was seeing 3 Senators from Pauline Hanson's mob emerge from the group oozing bile and venom.  However with a quota of ~6%, and there being no IQ requirement to vote, such is life.  It is also disappointing to see Derryn Hinch get elected but he has such a following as a shock-jock it isn't surprising.  ( I did like his comment that the only thing he has in common with Pauline is that they've both done time in jail.)

I'm also sorry to see the Brick with Eyes (former Senator Glenn Lazarus) and former Senator Ricky Muir get booted.  They both grew into the positions and were I think far better Senators than Lyonhjelm, Lambie and (particularly) Day, the Family First dude from SA.

Overall it is a great mess and certainly has not achieved the second outcome hoped for by the voting changes.  The only hope is that Turnbull will not have to rely on One Nation preferences (but that does require The Greens to be sensible and accept some compromises which they have never done in the past).

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