Monday, July 04, 2016
Long period of uncertainty after election
Australia is heading for a long period of uncertainty, just when the country does not need it.
Malcolm Turnbull insists the final dribble of votes will go the coalition's way and deliver at least the 76 seats needed for majority government.
However, as prime ministers past have discovered, discipline is hard to maintain in a tight situation.
The government could be one or two scandals or political stoushes away from losing a majority.
There are plenty of pitfalls ahead for Turnbull. The first is the economy.
Having promised to lift jobs and growth, voters will be demanding he deliver especially in rust-belt states where unemployment is stubbornly high.
Britain's exit from the European Union is still reverberating, the US recovery is patchy and China is facing challenges.
The coalition still has budget measures to pass dating back to 2014 and there's no guarantee the new Senate will be more amenable, with the likes of One Nation's Pauline Hanson expected to join the upper house.
On election night, there was talk among senior coalition members of reviewing the proposed superannuation changes which many older voters rejected and revising a number of other budget policies.
Turnbull has promised a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, which will open rifts between conservatives and moderates in his party and spill over into leadership mutterings.
And then there's the question of how to deal with Labor's Medicare attack - the most potent weapon of the election campaign. If forced to find more money for health and hospitals, and drop savings measures, Turnbull's promise of returning the budget to balance in mid-2021 will be a distant memory.
Turnbull will also have to do something to address the concerns of 23 per cent of voters who did not back either major party.
In his speech to the Liberal faithful in Sydney, as Saturday turned into Sunday, he said it was a time to "come together" and deliver on his economic plan. The problem is, these voters have categorically rejected his plan and want something more than trickle-down economics.
Labor portrayed this desire as working and middle-class people seeking a fair go. But even Bill Shorten's message was effectively rejected.
The key to the next term of parliament will be to tap into what a growing, disgruntled rump of Australians need and want.
Turnbull might be better advised to schedule his first meeting with Pauline Hanson, rather than his cabinet.
Linda Burney to become first female Indigenous MP in Australia's history
This is much less than it seems. She is NOT the first Aboriginal parliamentarian in Australian history. That role belongs to Neville Bonner, put in by Australia's conservatives in 1971. Neville really WAS an Aborigine. See below:
Linda Burney is a white woman with a small touch of Aboriginal ancestry. Until his untimely death, she was married to a white man, Rick Farley
Labor candidate Linda Burney claimed victory in the Federal seat of Barton at 7:30pm on election night, becoming the first female Indigenous MP in the House of Representatives
The NSW seat is located in Sydney’s inner-south and has historically been marginal. Ms Burney won the seat off Liberal MP Nickolas Varvaris, who won the seat from Labor at the last federal election.
In an interview with NITV last month, the former NSW deputy Labor leader said she was motivated by traditional Labor values, as well as a desire to represent Indigenous issues.
“If I’m elected I will be the first female Aboriginal person elected to the house of representatives – while this isn't the sole reason for my candidacy I would be enormously proud to have helped break that barrier for our people,” she said.
“The people of Barton have the opportunity to make history at this election and they've been extremely excited and encouraging about that prospect, I've been very encouraged by their reaction,” she said.
Ms Burney said her Aboriginality plays an important part in deciding which policies to persue.
“My Aboriginality has made me focus not just on Indigenous issues but on ones which I see affecting the most disenfranchised and ignored groups in the community,” she said.
Ms Burney told NITV she strongly supported constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, saying it did not preclude a treaty later being formed.
“I know that there are diverse views in our community about this issue but it is unrealistic to expect every Indigenous person to agree on the minutia, we should not be asking people to make that false choice,” she said.
Ms Burney said that she wants to set her office as soon as possible so she can hit the ground running.
“I will immediately be pressing our Minister for Education, who I very much hope will be a Labor Minister, to implement Labor’s Your Child, Our Future policy,” she said. “I will also be requesting a meeting with all of the Aboriginal and Indigenous members elected so that we can get working on implementing the policies which will help our communities.”
Nick Xenophon and Pauline Hanson set to be dominant voices on Senate crossbench
Populist Nick Xenophon and right-wing firebrand Pauline Hanson are set to be the dominant voices on an unwieldy new Senate crossbench likely to stymie a re-elected Coalition's agenda.
Senator Xenophon's team was on track to pick up at least another two upper house seats in his native South Australia, based on early counting.
"Let's wait and see," said Senator Xenophon of the Senate count late on Saturday night. "I'm forever the cautious pessimist."
While final Senate results may not be known for weeks, Ms Hanson's return to federal Parliament appeared all but certain.
Her One Nation was polling so strongly in her native Queensland it appeared she might pick up a second seat for her running mate Malcolm Roberts. The party also polled strongly in NSW and may claim a seat there after preferences.
"People want Australian values, they want their culture, they want their way of life," she said earlier in the night. "I suppose they see me as a person who really cares about them, who really cares about this country."
Success would end a two-decade political drought for the conservative, who served in the lower house from 1996 to 1998. She has had half a dozen unsuccessful election bids since then.
Her party also polled strongly in a number of lower house seats in Queensland.
In Tasmania, the outspoken independent, Jacqui Lambie, appeared set to retain her Senate spot.
In Victoria, broadcaster turned law and order campaigner Derryn Hinch - who secured the coveted first spot on the ballot paper - was polling strongly. "We are calling it, we are in," Hinch tweeted late on Saturday night.
The highly provisional results are based only on first preference votes and will change as counting continues over the coming days and weeks.
However, it appears the Senate crossbench could be even bigger than the eight-strong bloc - not counting the Australian Greens - that thwarted both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull during the 44th Parliament.
While preference flows will be critical, both major parties and the Greens appear to have lost seats in the upper house.
The Senate result makes it even more unlikely that a re-elected Turnbull government would be able to pass its bills in a joint sitting.
In the last Parliament the government needed the support of six of the eight crossbenchers for bills opposed by Labor and the Greens. These early results indicate it may have an even bigger barrier to climb in the new Parliament.
While the government's Senate voting reforms were aimed at clearing out the Senate crossbench, the double dissolution lowered the bar for the independents and micro-parties to get elected.
Ms Hanson's success seems to have come at the expense of Glenn Lazarus, who polled poorly. Other independents such as libertarian David Leyonhjelm, motoring enthusiast Ricky Muir, Palmer United Party's Dio Wang, Family First's Bob Day and independent John Madigan were expected to fail in their re-election bids.
Whoever is ultimately successful will take their Senate seats immediately. The double dissolution means their terms will be backdated to July 1 this year, meaning no long wait until next July.
Going into the election, the Coalition had 33 senators, Labor 25, the Greens 10 and eight crossbenchers.
A sausage election
I got mine -- JR
From the outside looking in, you could be forgiven for thinking that today Australia is celebrating a festival of grilled meat.
Across the nation, people are turning up to local schools and government buildings, and snapping pictures of themselves eating this traditional treat -- a barbecued sausage on white bread, slathered in sauce and topped with grilled onions.
It is, in fact, the federal election day when the future leadership of the country will be decided. But to celebrate successfully voting, many Australians treat themselves to a sausage on the way out from the polling booth, cooked by an army of fundraisers and volunteers.
It's known as the Democracy Sausage, and along with sizzling meat and onions, it boasts a slight aroma of 'Constitutional Right To Vote'.
Prime Ministerial hopeful Bill Shorten has already got into the act, snapped this morning tucking into a sausage on a roll when he went to vote in western Sydney.
The leader of the left nominated a plain beef sausage as his favourite, eschewing fancier flavours.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's didn't bother picking up a sausage sandwich when he voted in east Sydney. (Editorial note: Which is outrageous and almost unAustralian, even if it was before 10am.)
But he did at least note that the day wasn't complete without them.
It has become such a part of the electoral tradition that Google Maps has featured data on whether polling stations have a sausage sizzle and/or a cake stall on offer for the convenience of voters.
Some bright spark has even mapped the informal sausage sizzles, noted whether vegetarian options were available, and added details on cake stalls and tables of craft goods for sale on site.
On Twitter, people's appraisal of this barbecued goodness under the tag #SnagVotes eclipsed the official election hashtag #AusVotes. Which shows something about the nation's priorities.
To highlight polling day, Twitter has issued a sausage and bread emoji that appears when users tweet #ausvotes.
Google reported the search for sausages was on par with hunt for election data.
But going from social media many punters are sticking with the basics.
According to Snagvotes, a group that's dead serious about all things sausage-sizzle related, today's about encouraging "participation in the democratic process and offering support for community groups and volunteers that run sausage sizzles and stalls on election day, as it is an important means of fundraising for them".
And for those who didn't manage to get a sausage at the polling station, here's a democracy sausage dog who turned out with its owner to vote.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here