The results of the election are not yet known and commentators are already frothing at the mouth. Chief mouth-frother Andrew Bolt has already called for Malcolm Turnbull’s resignation which would be difficult, not to say embarrassing, if the Coalition then goes on to get 77 seat and is required to form government.
Peter Costello was calling a Coalition victory on television last night well before the figures were in.
And Malcolm Turnbull was demonstrating a level of confidence that none of the published figures supported when he spoke to the press the morning after the election saying he was confident he would be able to form a majority government.
So it’s probably a little bit early to start calling for heads to be rolling or governments to be forming.
One thing we can be extremely happy about is the fact that Australia is not, despite the predictions of Malcolm Turnbull, in for a period of political instability. Malcolm Turnbull is in for a period of political instability. For the rest of us, life will go on pretty much the same as it normally does.
To get an idea of how much Australia cares about the election result, it is informative to look at the TV page for Saturday night.
There are five TV channels with three stations each, a total of 15. There were two stations, the ABC and NINE giving coverage of the election results. We can assume that the people who run the television stations have a pretty good idea of what the viewing public is interested in, and it’s not politics. Its the normal fare: the footy (Carlton/ Collingwood), Wimbledon, Mission Impossible, Tour De France, Bondi Vet, the Blues Brothers.
More exciting/interesting than an election?
But for those of you who are interested, a report in The Age the morning after the election indicates how uncertain the situation is for both parties.
The first observation is that there is huge variation in these figures from three fairly respectable sources. Without understanding the algorithms that the projections are based on, it’s difficult to assess the relative merits of each. But that’s not going to deter me.
The most obvious thing about these figures is that both the Australian Electoral Commission and the ABC have the Labor Party ahead. In the case of the AEC, comfortably so. Fairfax media by contrast has the Coalition in an almost unbeatable position.
My first assumption is that the seats allocated to each party are not going to change and that it is only the undecided ones, the seats in play, that are relevant to the result now.
My second assumption is that the Government will need to provide a Speaker so will need 77 seats to provide it with a seat majority (75+1).
My third assumption is that Turnbull will not get any support from the Greens.
These are the best figures for the Coalition. They will need to win five of the eight undecided seats to form government in their own right. That’s not impossible but it’s a big call. Factor in some of the Others and Turnbull could form a minority government.
If he has to deal with the cross bench, Turnbull will then have to deal with Nick Xenophon and new re-elected Rebekha Sharkie.
Rebecca Sharkie is an unknown quantity but we can expect Xenophon to extract maximum political mileage out of any negotiations with Turnbull. This will involve emphasising Xenophon’s importance and power and diminishing Turnbull’s. Exactly what Turnbull doesn’t need at present.
Australian Electoral Commission
Very bad news for Malcolm Turnbull. Even if he wins all seven undecided seats, he was still only have 74 (less one as a speaker) so he will need all the Others. One of those is independent Cathy McGowan who has just seen off Liberal Sophie Mirabella in Indi in an acrimonious campaign, so Malcolm probably can’t count on that vote.
Cathy McGowan considers the possibility of supporting a minority Turnbull government
If Turnbull is unsuccessful with McGowan, he can’t form a minority government on these figures.
The AEC figures probably give the Coalition no chance of forming a majority and little or no chance of forming a minority government
If the cards fall Bill Shorten’s way and he has the support of the Greens, he could be forming a minority government on these figures.
Again these figures are very bad news for Malcolm Turnbull. He will need to pick up 12 of the 13 undecided seats to form government in his own right. Bill Shorten will need to pick up 10 of the 13 undecided seats. But again, if he can rely on the Greens, he only needs eight of the undecided seats, still a fairly big call. The ABC figures make it highly unlikely that either party will be able to form a majority government but they give Labor a better chance of forming a minority government.
Under these figures, it is likely that the Australian electorate will be returning to the polls.
It is highly unlikely that Malcolm Turnbull will be leading the Liberal party if that happens. The Liberal party will be facing a refreshed, emboldened and invigorated Labor party.
We need to keep a perspective on the situation. It’s not a disaster, despite what the politicians may say.
We will have a period Parliamentary instability during which time the issue will be resolved either in parliament or through the ballot box.
We will not have a period of political instability.
That’s not political instability. This is political instability
Australia’s worst recent political crisis was when the Whitlam government was dismissed in 1975. The Australian political system was able to resolve this constitutional crisis without tanks in the street, without violence and without bloodshed. This is about as bad as things have been in living memory and it wasn’t all that bad.
We live in interesting times. Or as Malcolm Turnbull would probably like to say, “There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian voter.”
Put the kettle on crack out the Bex.