Federal Election 2010 Result: Pros and Cons

Alright – at this stage we have a provisional result, in which neither big party can form government in the lower house by themselves, and in which they’ll need the support of independents to command a majority.

Is this a good or a bad outcome?

Parliament: where issues are supposed to be decided, rather than in major party backrooms. Welcome back democracy!


  • Democracy. Majority party government has been completely contrary to actual parliamentary democracy, in which the idea is that voters are represented in parliament and decisions are made there. Instead, the big parties have said anything to get over the line, promising opposite things to opposite groups, then resolved what they’ll do internally and told parliament what’s going to happen. Majority control by a party means parliament is almost irrelevant. Minority government means real parliamentary democracy again.
  • Big swing to Greens, indicating that a lot of Australians are progressive and want that perspective to come through in legislation. That Australians who believe in public services over tax cuts, and humane treatment of the unfortunate, are sick of those concerns being unrepresented by the big parties.
  • Fundies First obliterated, despite the apparently huge pots of money they had a their disposal in the campaign (seriously, the amount of bunting at our remote country electorate yesterday was ridiculous). Labor’s 2004 betrayal of its above the line voters finally rectified (although Fielding won’t actually be gone till half way through next year).
  • Senate in which the Greens have the balance of power.
  • Rejection of big parties’ negative campaigns – simply saying “the other side is terrible” no longer enough to get you over the line.
  • Rejection of big parties’ small-target strategies – simply ducking every controversial issue and saying you no longer believe in it no longer enough to get you over the line.
  • First indigenous [lower house – corrected] MP.


  • Government decided by local-focused independent candidates who don’t stand for anything on the national level, just getting the rest of us to give their electorates special privileges.
  • More seats for Liberals.
  • Fanatical fundamentalist party DLP wins a Senate seat in Victoria.
  • Because most voters have never seen anything other than majority party government in Australia (ignoring states), and because this hung parliament is at the mercy of local independents not minor parties with a reasonable share of the vote, it might be easy for the self-interested powers-that-be who did very well out of the previous duopoly, to exaggerate the “uncertainty” and “chaos” of this period and scare voters back into the “devil they know” for next time.

In fact, as far as I can see the biggest problem of this result is the disproportionate power the local independents will have over the rest of us. Unlike, say, the lone Greens lower house MP, who’s there from one electorate but in effect represents the 14% of Australians who voted Greens, the other independents represent no more than a single electorate and can’t be expected to give a damn about anything besides how much the rest of us are willing to offer them to have a functioning government.

This would be easily remedied with multi-member electorates in the lower house. Like the Senate, but not unfairly distributed amongst the States so a voter in a small state has more of a say than a voter in a big one. We leave the Senate as the States’ house, and we divide the current House of Representatives into, say, thirty five-member electorates with equal numbers of voters. Or fifteen ten-member electorates. Then a party on 10% of the vote will have a reasonable chance of getting 10% of the seats, rather than zero. Then parliament would roughly match the opinions of the Australian electorate, rather than an unrepresentative duopoly.

Expect the beneficiaries of the status quo to stand against that, of course – they like getting more seats than their vote justifies – but it would (a) be real democracy and (b) resolve the problem we’re about to have. Which is not “minority government” – it’s a parliament held hostage to a few local electorates at the cost of the rest of us.

That said, I’ve been pretty impressed by the attitude of some of those independents, so we’ll see.

UPDATE: Two other “pros”: Terry McCrann thinks “no good can come of this” and Andrew Bolt describes the next Senate as “destructive”. Which, given that the two of them live in bizarro world where good is “evil” and the duopoly the country has finally realised serves none of us is something to be preserved, is a fairly ringing endorsement. Good work, Australia.

39 responses to “Federal Election 2010 Result: Pros and Cons

  1. Windsor, Kattar and Oakenshott are old-school Nats. Crook in WA looks like he might also swing if circumstances make it attractive. The key is that they’re all people who’ve made their seats by being “local members for local people” . The Libs are probably even less regarded as supporting regional Australia than the ALP are.

    73 seats is the magic number, because I doubt Bandt and Wilkie will ever support Abbott in a confidence vote. The fact that legislation is also going to have to jump a Greens hurdle in the senate (after July, at any rate) is also going to make the passage of legislation, especially controversial legislation, extrordinarily difficult.

    I think we’ll be having another election in the new year, come what may.

  2. Neville Bonner was the first Aboriginal Australian MP. He was a (Liberal) Senator for Queensland. And Fielding’s not gone yet. I think it’s more likely that the slimy McGauran will be returned once postals etc come in.

  3. What’s with you Victorians electing weirdos to the last spot in the senate?

    (I guess Queensland gave us Barneby Joyce, so I should be careful, but Pauline and the Liberals did elect him, so it wasn’t so much a surprise).

  4. Wait, you’re right. Why did I believe TAbbott’s lie about the first indigenous MP?

  5. Lie or not tell the whole truth. (Sounds like a scarily familiar rhetoric).

  6. “Wait, you’re right. Why did I believe TAbbott’s lie about the first indigenous MP?”

    I think Abbott meant he was the first indigenous Lower House MP.

  7. Splatterbottom

    The Greens should be saluted for keeping Labor out of office.

  8. Surely a senator is a member of the parliament. Unless you are going to argue that the senate isn’t part of the parliament.

  9. SB, Green preferences to Labor made the difference in a fair number of seats. The reason Labor is within range of forming a government is because Green voters in marginal seats generally preferenced Labor over the Liberals.

  10. “The Greens should be saluted for keeping Labor out of office.”

    Given Greens preferences got the ALP over the line in tons of seats, and gave them the 2pp, how does this work?

  11. Splatterbottom

    Alister, most Green votes come from what would otherwise be Labor votes. The preferences show what the voters would have otherwise chosen. The fact is that Labor could really benefit from that extra seat right now.

  12. Overall, a good result if you keep the long-term perspective in mind. The immediate prospect of PM Abbott is a bit concerning. Though if Abbott does somehow cobble a colation together it’s clear that he’s have to cede some major ground;
    – NBN will have to go ahead.
    – the ex-National independents are a bit anti-free market / privatisation so Abbott will have to tone down the stupid ‘reduce the debt’ mantra.

    Another con:
    – we’ll be inundated by days of financial chicken littles crying “market uncertainty!”

  13. Labor has 73, according to the ABC which, of course, is subject to change as the postal votes roll in. A very high number of postal votes this election, apparently. Will be interesting to see if they maintain their traditional coalition preference.

    Also, who is the Speaker from the current range of independents?

    (I sort of want Kattar, just for entertainment value)

  14. “Alister, most Green votes come from what would otherwise be Labor votes. The preferences show what the voters would have otherwise chosen. The fact is that Labor could really benefit from that extra seat right now.”

    I’m sure Labor would prefer to be holding the seat themselves, but the fact that Adam Bandt will support the ALP to hold government makes it less of a problem.

  15. Splatterbottom

    Redravens, if you want entertainment value you can’t go past Krudd who is notionally Labor but for all practical purposes independent. It will be fun to have a leaky speaker with a chip on his shoulder. The doctors may have removed his gall bladder but the bile will keep flowing at least until his stab-wounds have healed, if they ever do.

  16. baldrickjones

    “we’ll be inundated by days of financial chicken littles crying “market uncertainty!”

    Actually, I can’t see much legislation being passed in the next 3 years at all. Just look at the competing interests. Where we are now is likely to be the status quo for a while.

  17. Hur, hur, hur SB, very droll.


  18. “Surely a senator is a member of the parliament. Unless you are going to argue that the senate isn’t part of the parliament.”

    Who is disputing this ?

  19. Pingback: Strange days | the news with nipples

  20. “The Greens should be saluted for keeping Labor out of office.”

    How thick are you?

  21. Splatterbottom

    Whichever way it goes, the real import of this election is the rise of Green power. Too many people are deaf to the signs sent to us by almighty Gaia. All you with open minds and ears to hear, hark unto the words of our modern prophet, the venerable Bob Brown:

    “A couple of days ago a baby whale was born in the Derwent for the first time in 200 years, two days later we’re seeing the new birth.”

    Decadent wasteful people would do well to realise that the fairies at the bottom of the garden are not figments of their imagination, but have been sent to lead them to the path of spiritual enlightenment.

  22. Splatterbottom

    Buns, who do you think Shorten’s mother-in-law will invite to form a government?

  23. redravens,

    Hadn’t noticed this. Postals must be flowing well for Labor.

    Certainly increases the likelihood of a Labor minority govt, given that they probably only need 1 of the gang of 3.

  24. ABC site has dropped the Coalition back to 69 seats, but the prediction remains at 73 a piece.

    An interesting precedent here in the NT – was a hung parliament here last year due to the resignation of a sitting Labor member. The outcome hinged on the decision of a single independant (conservative leaning) member – he went with Labor. The CLP went nuts. Expect similiar histironics from Abbott et al, if it doesn’t go their way.

  25. Crook is also interesting. He’s basically said that the price of his vote is $850 million of public money to the west (oh, and a “resource profits for the regions” scheme). I think he might be aiming a bit high on that one. But you can argue he’s acting more like a Nationals local member than many others with the title.

    Brown is loving this. Whomever forms government, he wins. Question now is to what degree the negotiations work in the short term. It’s entirely possible, of course, that the major parties may effectively refuse to work with the Greens and take aim at a double-dissolution to resolve the deadlock.

  26. yeh i see a double dissolution

    the money power isn’t going to want to negotiate with pipsqueak independents, or waste money buying them off

  27. Jeez I’m fucking sick of the jibes directed at Bob Brown for daring to mention the baby whale born in the Derwent. It’s a fucking ALLEGORY, people – he was using a literary device! He doesn’t really honestly believe that it was a portent … or are you so thick that you really think he does?

  28. What was that comment that Katter made around 15 years ago when he said he’ll walk backwards from Cairns to … wherever it was … when the “poofter population” of FNQ reaches 2%?

  29. Aden Ridgeway was Australia’s second indigenous member of Federal Parliament. Ken Wyatt will be third and first in the house of reps as correctly pointed out by gavinm.

  30. Splatterbottom

    Lighten up RM! Allegory is a common form in the preachings of religious prophets. Truly Bob is also a mad monk, but of a different faith.

    (Actually he is my favourite Australian politician.)

  31. Splatterbottom

    One interesting ‘con’ of this election was the way Gillard’s handlers put it about that she delivered her campaign launch speech off the cuff, when in fact it was verbatim the text of the notes she had on the lectern. There is a long list of compliant media cretins who gushed about this tasty morsel as though it were a ripe dangleberry hanging from Julia’s own sainted anus.

  32. We’re talking about the result, not lame Liberal Party talking points from last week. Keep up, SB.

  33. This week’s liberal talking points are that the Liberals deserve power because Labor had a swing against tem (that was smaller than the swing in 1998), and that the Liberals had the higher primary vote (ignoring where the votes were that caused the difference, and that Labor had the higher 2 party preferred vote.)

  34. Pingback: We are building a religion. We are building it better. « Only The Sangfroid

  35. Yeah, nice comeback SB: “I was only joking”. How many people use that defense? Fact is, there are stacks of people out there commenting on his “whale” remark and who obviously believe he’s some kind of deranged nutter. The same people who wouldn’t bat an eyelid if Abbott confessed to praying to God for a good election result.

    And I understand why you wouldn’t get it that it’s a poetic, rather than religious, comment: you ARE from Sydney, after all. Anything that doesn’t have a dollar value has NO value to a Sydneysider.

  36. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy, the ‘no notes’ episode did not reveal anything surprising about the fact that Fake Julia never really went away, and that was not my point.
    The instructive part is that this particular ‘con’ required for its success the credulity of the catamite press. Now we have a lengthy list of supine scoundrels who pose as journalists and function as political whores.

    RM, the difference is that such piety is expected of Tony, but seems incongruous coming from Bob. The fact that he revealed his spiritual side is not such a bad thing. It is sad that some are so enamoured by their political heroes that they are incapable of celebrating their foibles.

    This episode has not detracted from my respect for Bob. More people need to get in touch with their spiritual side.

  37. The “catamite” press? I understand you troll for the sake of trolling most of the time, but… REALLY?

  38. Splatterbottom

    RR, how is that the expression of a widely held opinion with a slightly colourful turn of phrase is trolling? I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder.

  39. Another pro:

    Hilarious outpourings of nonsense from Andrew Bolt.

    Da Bolt on changing the way politics is done,
    “This is just the kind of pixie dust that dazzles Greens and women. How sweet, a world without conflict. With politicians co-operating, not arguing. “

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