Australians will have to wait up to 10 days to learn if Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott will be able to form government. One of the most extraordinary elections in the nation's history looks likely to deliver a hung parliament. As the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader yesterday opened talks with the independent and Greens MPs whose support will be critical to forming government, NSW independent Tony Windsor said he would wait for a clearer picture on party standings before committing himself. The latest counting puts Labor on 70 seats and the Coalition on 72 - short of the 76 majority needed to govern in their own right.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce should stand aside from making any decision on which party forms the next government, one of Australia's leading ethics experts said. Prominent Labor powerbroker Bill Shorten last year married Ms Bryce's daughter. Ethicist Leslie Cannold said with a hung parliament looming, it was important for Ms Bryce to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest because of the link, The Daily Telegraph reports.
With the federal election campaign now over, attention is turning back to state politics with the debate over reforming the state?s Adoption Act heating up before parliament resumes at the end of this month. The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has launched a campaign encouraging its members to voice their opposition to the proposed amendments, introduced by Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP before the winter recess, which would allow same-sex couples the ability to adopt. 'Titled Kid's Rights Count', NSW ACL director David Hutt wrote on its web site that NSW MPs will vote by conscience 'instead of along party lines' on whether to allow same-sex couples to adopt. 'This would deny kids the right to both a mother and a father's love,' he wrote.
Voters delivered unprecedented uncertainty and inherent electoral instability on Saturday night. Now all our federal politicians are scrambling to offer "stable government" while not even knowing how many MPs are on each side. The race is on to regather the pieces of a shattered body politic and be part of government. It's no longer a battle for votes, it's a fight for hearts and minds and to convince the public of each group's legitimacy, mandate and right to govern or to be part of governing. This battle is being fought against a background of uncertainty about the number of seats each of the major parties will be able to claim as their own on the way to the pivotal and government-forming figure of 76 in the 150-member House of Representatives.
Australia is now divided into three zones by political and economic culture. One conservative, one progressive and one split down the middle. The mining states of Queensland and Western Australia are a Labor wasteland. The progressive southern states of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania don't want to know the Coalition. Between these two zones is the dead state of NSW, where neither side claimed a decisive vote on Saturday. The parliament was hung because Tony Abbott's home state didn't break the same way for the Coalition as Queensland and Western Australia did.
A close election result can lead to days of delusion, writes Peter Reith. It happened to the Coalition in the days after the 1990 election when we thought we might win. For nearly a week, the counting dragged on. Our senior people were delusional in saying the result was too close to call and they were using the interregnum to prepare for government. It fell to me to burst the bubble by declaring publicly that we needed to start preparing for more opposition. Whatever this year's election result, the bubble will soon burst for Labor. Within a week it will dawn on Labor that its campaign and its leader Julia Gillard have been a disaster. Her argument for the political execution of Kevin Rudd was that she could do better and keep Labor in office.
Four seats remain on a knife-edge after the latest counting. But the West Australian seat of Hasluck could hold the keys to The Lodge for either Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott. Last night the Liberals held a narrow lead in Hasluck, putting Mr Abbott within reach of moving to 73 seats and a chance of forming government in the 150 seat House of Representatives. At 73 seats Mr Abbott would be able to negotiate with the three independents, Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, to take power with a majority of one. But if Labor can get to 73 or 74 seats it may be able to govern with the support of the Green member for Melbourne Adam Bandt, who took the seat from the government after the retirement of Lindsay Tanner at Saturday's election.
The Greens seem set to hold the balance of power in the Senate from July 1 next year with up to nine members in the upper house. The new dynamic will make the Greens the go-to people in the Senate, one of the most powerful upper houses in the world. Family First senator Steve Fielding seems certain to have lost his place. But the Victorian may be replaced by a philosophically like-minded newcomer in John Madigan from the socially and economically conservative Democratic Labor Party. Mr Madigan, a blacksmith from Ballarat in Victoria, is tipped to take the final Senate seat even though he received only 2.2 per cent of the vote. The Greens will now hold the balance of power in the Senate, with new senators expected to be elected in Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Queensland. But their ACT candidate, Lyn Hatfield Dodds, fell short of a seat, with ACT voters sticking with traditional voting habits to re-elect Liberal senator Gary Humphries.
While the Greens surprised few by securing the balance of power in the Senate, the magnitude of their coming of age was unexpected even among party optimists. The party looks to have won a Senate seat in each state, come within reach of tipping the Liberal Party out of the ACT and scoring a record national vote for a third party. ''From where I sit,'' said the party's leader, Bob Brown, ''that's a Greenslide.'' And it's as difficult to disagree with that assessment as it is to foretell with certainty the precise make-up of the next Senate, from next July, such is the unwieldiness of the beast. The Democratic Labor Party - the result of an ideological schism in the 1950s - may make a comeback after a Senate absence of 36 years. John Madigan, a Ballarat blacksmith, has won just 2.2 per cent of the primary vote but is favoured to nudge out Julian McGauran, who was demoted to third on the Coalition ticket after defecting from the Nationals, and Steve Fielding, the Family First senator whose 2004 election was considered a fluke of preference flows.
Three country independent MPs who are poised to hold the balance of power in the new Parliament have indicated they could act as a bloc in negotiations over whether Julia Gillard stays as prime minister or Tony Abbott replaces her. With Saturday's federal election set to produce Australia's first hung parliament in 70 years, two of the three independents signalled they would to some extent act in concert when negotiating with the major parties.
Christian voters, like the rest of Australia, face a wait which could stretch to weeks, before the make-up of a new government is known. Extremely close counts in several electorates have given rise to a prediction that both the coalition and labour may have equal numbers of seats and negotiations have already begun with independants and the green MP for the formation of a government. The day after the election, Anglican churches across Sydney prayed for stable government and wisdom for political leaders and the Independents as Australia faces its first hung parliament in more than 60 years. In the Upper House, Family First looks set to lose it’s place with the Greens holding the balance of power in the new Senate, where they may hold up to nine seats.
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March 22, 2018
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