After one of the most bizarre weekends in Australian political history, here are some thoughts:
- Whatever one may think of Maxine McKew’s comments being sour grapes and said in the bitterness of the moment, they were profoundly accurate. Labor has shot itself in the foot. To have the most popular Prime Minister in the country’s history to possibly losing Government within 4 months is unheard of.
- This election is uncannily similar to the 1999 Victorian state election in which 3 independents eventually decided the fate of the state and changed the Government. This time we also have 3 independents who will most likely determine what direction the country heads in over the next 3 years.
- Having said the above, whoever is in Government for the next 3 years, some things will not change, namely the response to climate change. The response of both the major parties to this issue has been nothing short of lamentable. This is one of the reasons forr the huge swing to the Greens right across the country.
- The Green vote highlights how much we need a change of voting system for the House of Representatives. As some Greens were saying last night, if we had proportional representation, the Greens would now have 17 Lower House seats. Instead they have 1, having polled more than 11% of the vote across the country.
- The Greens need to be very careful about which major party they support if indeed they find themselves in that position. If the Coalition ends up winning more seats than Labor and the Coalition needs the support of the Greens to form a Government, then the Greens may feel morally bound to support the Coalition, as they would have secured the highest number of seats. However, by doing that, they may be seen to have sold out for the chance at power. We all know what happened to the Australian Democrats when that happened. The Liberal Democrats in the UK have also been accused of the same. On the other hand, if the Greens support Labor in such a situation, they may be accused of not supporting the will of the people who would have given the Coalition more seats.
- One of the 3 independents mentioned above, Rob Oakeshott, made an important point tonight on the 7.30 Report when he said that decisions over who should govern should be made in the interests of the nation, not in the interests of the party. Tony Abbott can hardly claim that because the Coalition won more primary votes than Labor, the people wanted them more. Julia Gillard has equally climaed that the two-party-preferred vote shows that more people put Labor ahead of the Coalition. Such arguing will get us nowhere and is not in the best interests of the country. Australia has been known for having stable Government and that has to be one of the priorities in deciding who will govern us.
Anyway, they’re my thoughts for the moment. I’d be interested to hear what others think. We have a long week or two ahead of us.
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