Assessing the election – part 1

It was a fascinating election result, and also a historic one on a number of fronts. The Greens historic achievement in winning a House of Representatives seat at a general election, combined with the probability of a hung parliament, presents a real possibility that we may finally be faced with a real chance to start breaking down the two party stranglehold on Australian politics, which in my view is a key reason why we are so often subjected to shallow, lowest common denominator politics.

Counting will continue over the next week or so, with a number of seats potentially still in the balance. If you want to keep track of how those counts are going, I recommend you follow the Poll Bludger’s blog – the comments threads there usually provide a lot of up to the minute, well informed and sometimes insider details about the counts (as well as the usual helping of nonsensical drivel and dross that contributes a part of almost all comments threads).

I’ll be closely studying the results and developments over the coming week, and will try to keep leaving posts here outlining things I think are of interest or importance.

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14 Comments

  1. Ditto – but just imagine what you could have done here in Ryan, where a new face also reached 20% without doing any campaigning that we noticed.
    We hope you keep trying!

  2. Congratulations Andrew.

    In the tradition of meaningless predictions that is central to commentary in these times of limbo, I predict that the Greens will not enjoy a powerful position in the senate as most seem to be assuming.

    If, like the Democrats, a balance of power party is either the middle way between the major parties or not significantly different in its focus to either of them, then they would have a big BOP role.

    However it is different with the Greens because they are not a middle path party.

    The ALP and coalition have much more in common with each other than either of them have with the Greens, therefore it is going to be much easier for the old parties to arrive at some bipartisan consensus that excludes the Greens than to find some common ground with the greens to engage in adversarial conflict with each other.

    The obstacle to bipartisanship is not ideological but purely and simply a matter of party room solidarity and tactics. It is this framework alone, the numbers game, that provides the Greens any toe-hold in the senate. This framework can change at the stroke of a pen.

    Government is formed in the House of Reps and that is the most important BOP factor at present. Katter, Windsor and Oakshott have been saying some very non-partisan things indicating they could do a deal with either party. But they have no love for the Greens and will conspire to disempower the Greens in their HoReps deal whatever it is.

    This rural trinity have been scathing in their critisism of the procedural stupidity of the numbers game over real policy and people and projects. They are singing a bi-partisan song with particular objectives, and this song, I predict, will provide the framework for bi-partisan consensus that will make the Greens BOP irrelevant.

    The Mayan Calender endate is 21 December 2012 so, unless their is an early election, this one has been the last one.

  3. Absolutely. Truly well done. It’s interesting to note that where you captured 20.9% of the primary vote, clearly not all of those voters preferenced Labor next or Labor would be comfortably over the line! Hints that you picked up 1-2% of people who would have otherwise swung from Labor to Liberal this election.

    Also note the shoutout your way on the ABC live blog http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2010/liveblog/ 12:59PM August 23

  4. Peter Smith:

    At least the voters got rid of the incumbent in Ryan, which can only be a plus (Liberal kickout) – very loud mouth with no content, except for a hare-brained taxation scheme which would have encouraged people to be more wasteful.

    Trust me, if you had met that guy, you might have voted for nearly anyone so as not to have him!

    I was expecting either a narrow win for Liberals or a hung parliament. Tony thought that Labor might win by a narrow margin.

    I haven’t heard any news today, but I’m expecting that most of the Independents will want to move across with the Liberals, since some are in country areas. But we still have to wait to see who gets the remaining lower house seats.

    In the future I think we will see more people voting for smaller parties and independents, but it is really important to check out what independents support. The woman in my electorate supported home births, which definitely put her further down my list.

    I have reason to believe that Peter Dutton (Liberals, Dickson) is being groomed for the role of Prime Minister. Although he is a bit better than some of their other people, he doesn’t have the look of a Prime Minister any more than Rudd did, and we know what happened to him!

    The DLP won a Senate seat in Victoria, which might have been the one lost by Steve Fielding. I would have liked to see Family First still represented in the Senate.

    If Liberals manage to form a government and then bring in bonds for High Care in our nursing homes, they can expect older Australians to want to get rid of them very quickly.

    The National Seniors have a pretty strong lobby group now, and may in the future run their own candidates for election. At the moment, less than half the membership support forming their own political party.

    I didn’t vote in the poll, but I don’t think it’s a very good idea to have parties which represent a single interest group.

  5. Lorikeet, I never met the gentleman, but I always put him last on my vote. Success at last!
    The Seniors lobby worries me – why are the 55 year-old kids allowed in? No wonder they make up 45% of the electorate; they must be too diverse a group to be effective lobbyists. I was not prepared to be a Senior until after I retired at 70.

  6. Thanks for the congrats folks (and for the ABC link, Lisa).

    John, Senate BOP will still matter regardless of who the Independents support for government. And whilst Bob Katter is fairly stridently and reflexively anti-Green, I wouldn’t say the same about Tony Windsor or Rob Oakshott. They will look at what is best for their regions and their beliefs – I doubt they will have a specific goal of trying to disempower the Greens (although they obviously won’t be overly interested in empowering them either).

    It’s true the Greens aren’t quite as ‘middle path’ as the Democrats – although the Democrats weren’t always as middle path as they occasionally portrayed themselves either. In any case, parties are not rigidly fixed in a specific position all the time, whether it be ‘left’, ‘right’ or middle – issues are fluid and areas of common ground are different from issue to issue.

    That’s precisely why I think breaking down the two party system is so important. A two party system is – at best – two dimensional. With three parties, you can get three dimensions, with all the extra dynamism and depth that comes with it (also some chaos occasionally, but as long as there’s not too much of that, it’s not a bad thing).

    Anyway, it was a good result for the Greens, but it’s one thing to get a high vote – it’s another, more difficult thing to consolidate it and build on it.

  7. Peter:

    I don’t think the over-55s should be described as kids. I consider that to be a very disrespectful attitude towards the middle-aged and elderly. I’m guessing you are fairly young.

    One of the wisest women I have ever met was 90 years old.

    If you try to exclude ANY group from running for election, it’s a sign of support for some form of destructive cultism.

    The National Seniors of Australia represents those over 50 across a wide range of concerns. You can also get some pretty good discounts at food outlets and other stores, also discounts on travel.

    Since I am a member of both the DLP and and National Seniors, I was able to tell them that it’s undemocratic to invite only larger parties to political forums. The same message needs to be delivered to the media en masse.

    On “Insiders” on Sunday, a commentator said he expects Australia will move to a more diverse group of people in the parliament. This can only be a plus, but we will still also need to break the gridlock within parties.

    No one can run a democracy if it is based on abusive processes, such as the National Executive ordering politicians, including a Prime Minister, to vote or legislate according to the wishes of their greedy corporate mates.

  8. Peter Smith, I also live in Ryan and noticed a fair bit of campaigning on the part of the Greens candidate Sandra Bayley. She doesn’t have the profile of AB but she was out and about as much as the other candidates.
    It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out for the Greens. If Labour ends up being pulled a little more to the left on some of their policies then you may find that the Green vote will retreat at the next election. Additionally, if there’s another election soonish then many protest voters may return to Labor as the reality of a coalition government hits home.
    In any case, looking forward to some more progressive and intelligent government than we’ve seen in quite a while.

  9. (I posted this on the Wild Rivers thread but it was supposed to go here)

    I dunno. Tony Windsor’s body language and facial expressions on Q&A last night were fascinating when the role of the Greens came up. He said that the Greens have their place but this was the closest to evasive politician speak that he came in the whole show.

    Now Rob Oakeshott is proposing a unity cabinet, which even if it was a diluted and flexible unity through a charter or MoA rather than a bipartisan cabinet, would solve all the issues in the senate.

    The tricky people will try and get the Greens to sign the charter of unity, which will be outrageous and the Greens cannot sign it, and therefore be excluded from the process and represented as divisive and purist. At this point the Greens will be the defacto opposition and not BoP. Or the Greens join such a unity and split internally over the contradictions.

    But hey, I predicted Bronwyn Bishop would be the next conservative P.M. (its not too late!)

    A point that your word limit did not allow yesterday, an observation not a prediction.

    The Green vote (%) in Aboriginal communities accross Australia seems to be similar to the mainstream which is an interesting new development. But the striking exception of course was Cape York Aboriginal communities where the vote was sub-minimal. Perhaps this has something to do with the Green senators voting against extending native title rights in Cape York.

  10. I don’t see that the indies or Greens are somehow required either main period for a full term, as the push pollers in the tabloids reckon. I hope the indies keep their distance and not put Abbott in, as he’s a nasty dog on a nasty austerity kick, to punish the people for a non existent debt.
    If they support Gillard then not for porkbarrel but out of consideration for ordinary Australians. I hope they exert sufficient influence to lever Gillard away from the possible control of any vested interest too deeply entrenched behind the scenes at labor.
    The problem with Aborigines mentioned above is an example. I’ll wager the aboriginal community was as offended at the sordid long running tale of Mulrunji.
    A false prophet like Pearson would surely know how to manipulate his particular constituency after the appalling response by QLD state labor to Palm Island, in the entirety.
    I hope Labor stays in at least until the Greens get bop next year. Abbott in the lower house later, with indies not tied to party discipline, to also keep him in line, with a wafer thin majority, then becomes less problematic- he is no friend of the ordinary people and labor is not much better.

  11. Paul Walter:

    I hate to disappoint you, but I think we will finish up with a Liberal government.

    The Independents will do whatever it takes to maintain their seats in the parliament, but I think they will go with Liberals, but the Green man will want to go with Labor. I don’t think there should be anything stopping him from doing that if he wants.

    I think Tony Abbott will only be on an austerity kick where the poor are concerned. Meanwhile women on $150,000 income will be paid $75,000 to spend 6 months at home with their babies, and here in Brisbane, we will have to continue to feed and clothe the poor at our own expense.

    According to Andrew Laming who holds the seat of Bowman, the Liberals will put a bond on High Care, possibly landing the elderly on the streets for charitable citizens to look after.

    Today someone told me that to conduct another election will cost $200 million. It would be far cheaper just to keep each elected member of the lower house as he/she is (Independent, Green, whoever), and bring in this new rule:

    A secret ballot will be conducted for every issue to ensure democracy is returned to this country, with each member properly representing constituents in a patriotic manner.

  12. I agree that a hung parliament offers opportunities for greater influence, but i also think we need to remember that the influence needs to be organised. The loss of direction by the Labor Party was in part because of a lack of organisation in civil society. 2007 was so different because people were organised around rights at work and climate change (not kevin 07).

    The hung parliament gives opportunity for intervention by social movements and progressive organisations, but that will still need to be organised: http://powerincoalition.com/2010/08/australian-hung-parliament-creates-opportunities-for-community-based-coalitions/

  13. That’s an interesting link, Amanda. It would be nice to restore democracy to the parliament.

    But I think most people know that those calling most of the shots these days are power and money hungry global organisations, in which some politicians have a vested interest.

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