Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The resolution of the election

There's been a lot going on, so these are just some random thoughts about the (non) election which, whilst indecisive, I believe is all to the good. Already we've seen Tony Abbott in his true colours, first refusing to submit his policies to Treasury for costing and then, inevitably having to agree to do so. Why didn't he just agree in the first place? He looked very silly behaving the way he did: result shot in foot with own gun!
Julia Gillard on the other hand is desperate about this: she wants to "win" this election so badly she can taste it. By that I mean that she wants to be able to form a government. If I was her I wouldn't want to be the shortest lived Australian PM. It also appears that she isn't sleeping very well - she looks tired and drawn.
What we are seeing, despite the missteps from Abbott, is that both sides realise that this is the end of their picnic. They can no longer behave like they have been and expect the Australian public to cop it. I hope the independents keep whoever forms government on their toes. In this regard we want no backsliding.
The other thing we want no more of is Julie Bishop's heckling from the sidelines. As a deputy leader of a major party she has a very limited repertoire and none of it is either very useful or very flattering. My view is that she would do her party a great deal of good by learning a new repertoire that had some positives in it, which focused on what her party was going to deliver and how, and which stopped with the bagging of all and sundry. Enough already from you Julie.
Now to the "independents", Katter, Oakeshott, Windsor, Wilkie and Crook. This is where it gets interesting. The first three are tending to hunt as a pack, Wilkie has said he wants none of that and Crook has simply said that whilst he's a National he won't be on the coalition benches. Whilst Alby Schultz might claim that Crook has "done a deal with the ALP" I think we can be pretty certain that Crook won't help the ALP form government. There's the matter of the mining tax. Julia Gillard is in the position where she can't win on that: if she drops it Crook might well support her but a great big chunk of Australia will say "they've done it again, first the ETS now this". That would be pretty terminal in terms of public trust in the ALP. On the other hand Crook is on the record as saying he can't support the tax.
Andrew Wilkie may well be the first to show his hand, and maybe as early as today. Adam Bandt has already shot his bolt, saying very early on that he would support Labor. So the next cab off the rank is Wilkie. Ordinarily I would expect him to support Labor - that represents a win-win for him. He will keep the Labor voters happy in his seat and he will be able to exert independent leverage therefore keeping his own voters happy. However I suspect it is not that simple. Andrew has moments when he appears to be a zealot of the purest type. That being the case he won't do what appears logical to you or me. Watch this space.
As for the other three, whilst Bob Katter points out that the three state electorates within his seat all vote Labor and that his vote is personal rather than party aligned, I nevertheless believe that it will be hard for him to align with Labor. More importantly he is appearing to act as a bloc with the other two independents. Whilst he might want to align with Labor I think that Oakeshott may well be the stumbling block.
My guess, and that's all it is, is that we'll end up with a coalition government supported by the bloc of three. Please note Julie Bishop that has nothing to do with who got the greatest two party preferred vote or any other measure - all that's irrelevant. The only thing that matters is who can go to the Governor General and form a government and who can survive on the floor of the house. But I'm sure you don't get that - you show no public signs of doing so.
The next few days will tell and it will be interesting. What will be perhaps more interesting is whether, in the longer term, the independents and Adam Bandt can move beyond a pork barrelling mentality to understand that they have obligations to the whole of Australia and that they will be badly punished if they don't live up to them.

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