Why a “mandate” is a slippery proposition

Last night on national television we were treated to the sight of the Treasurer Scott Morrison introducing Malcolm Turnbull to the Opposition.

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ScoMo gets to grips with Malcolm

 “Here is Prime Minister. He just won the election.”

Yes Scott, he has just won the election, but only just.

The motion for a Royal Commission into the banking industry, proposed by Labor, was lost 75 – 73. On those numbers it would appear that the opposition and all cross benchers voted for it.  Someone must’ve been in the toilet when the vote was taken.

In the last federal election, the Coalition won 40% of first preference vote. This, with preferences, has given them the smallest possible parliamentary majority.

However, the Opposition and the minor parties receive 60% of first preference votes  (Labor 35%, minor parties 25%). On this particular issue, the parties representing 60% of first preferences  voted for a Royal Commission into the banking industry.  Yet the motion was lost.

It appears likely that similar support for this particular Royal Commission will exist in the Senate.

There is something fundamentally wrong with our democracy when something that is clearly the wish of the majority of the Australian electorate can be thwarted by the vagaries of the electoral system.

And then we have the issue of marriage equality which will face the same problem: majority support in the electorate and opposition from the government.

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