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On a Road to Nowhere?

As we all wake up today from our election hangovers, and stagger bleary eyed to work, many are considering the real implication of living in interesting times… and the real possibility that the Governor General may be forced to call a second election.  The double dissolution election brought on by #stabilityMal has surprised everyone, not least the Australian voter; who, after casting their #rageVote now wonders what they were drinking, and who it was they spent those huddled, sweaty moments with in that election booth. Therefore, in another empty attempt to make sense of it all, it’s time for more analysis and conjecture!

Battle of the Bastards
updated 1800hrs 5 July The current count on the AEC website has the ALP leading in 69 seats, and the LNP with 66. The ALP is trending in a further two seats, and the LNP in three, though all five are too close to call… which should probably be the subtitle for this election.  The AEC has five seats undetermined; four Liberal and one ALP, which according to the current tally are likely to remain with incumbents. If that is the case we are looking at a 72/73 split  between the ALP and LNP.

updated 1800hrs 4 July The ABC (i.e. Antony Green) has a slightly different tally, with ALP at 67, LNP at 68 up from 64. Out of the 10 ‘seats in doubt’ the LNP is ahead on slender margins in four seats, the ALP on a similar knife-edge in five, and Xenophon party fairly comfortable in one. Giving us a House looking like this:

One of the key factors in this election is that traditional conservative voters have felt betrayed by the Liberal and National parties.  Mining, CSG, the NBN, foreign ownership, constant cuts and privatisation have been a catalyst for conservative voters to look at what else is on offer. Some have realised that the ALP has policies they support; others have turned even further right. As a result, immigration is likely to be a continuing flashpoint, though this time around even Pauline Hanson supports socialised healthcare and the NBN.

Greens and Andrew Wilkie have a record of voting with the ALP, though Wilkie has stated he will not enter into any deals.  Cathy McGowan tends to vote with the Coalition. Previously Katter aligned with the LNP, though this time there’s no carbon tax on the table this time. Key issues for Katter are CSG, energy privatisation and land sales, all of which the ALP have made murmurs about, while the LNP are unwilling/unable to move on either. If that will shift the pragmatic Katter away from traditional alliances remains to be seen.  Xenophon has already said he will take the number of seats either party wins into account when negotiating agreements, so if that second seat in Grey comes to Team X then he will truly be the kingmaker.

Stiff Upper Lip
The new senate is going to be a mixed bag. Media and politicians alike may decry the election results as a circus as much as they like; but the people have spoken, just not coherently.

There are two truths in democracy: The voter is always right… and you get the government you deserve… and based on ABC.net.au and the AEC website, the senate is currently looking like this:


The trend for seats in doubt generally toward the right wing parties such as Katter, Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers, One Nation, and the various Christian groups.  As per predictions, the lions’ share will likely go to the major parties; though there is a chance that either Katter or One Nation will get across the line.

Given the wide range of voices represented in the senate, we need to ask the question: Where do the new senators stand on legislation?

The Sydney Morning Herald published this rough breakdown of each parties’ focus.  The Weasel takes a next step and looks at how the senators will likely vote on current key issues.

Positions garnered from official policy statements, news reports, and interest group websites.
Where there is no clear position, it can be assumed that senators will use the issue as a bargaining chip to further their own agenda.

Marriage Equality
Derryn Hinch:     Pro equality, parliamentary vote
Fred Nile:            Anti equality, pro plebiscite
Jacqui Lambie:   Anti equality, pro plebiscite, conscience vote for party.
Katter:                 Anti equality
Lib Democrats:   Pro equality, parliamentary vote
One Nation:        Anti equality, pro plebiscite
Xenophon:          Pro equality, parliamentary vote
see also Aus Marriage Equality site

Climate Change / Renewable Energy
Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Sceptic, pro nuclear
Jacqui Lambie:   Supports action (in statements), pro nuclear, voting record unclear
Katter:                 Pro Action, stop CSG, extend emission target, boost ethanol production
Lib Democrats:   Sceptics, support mitigation, pro nuclear
One Nation:        Wants a Royal commission into climate science “corruption
Xenophon:          Pro Action, 50% reduction target by 2030

Recognition or Treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Opposes Constitutional recognition, supports increased engagement
Jacqui Lambie:   Constitutional recognition, plus dedicated indigenous seats in parliament
Katter:                 Wants action, possibly prefers treaty
Lib Democrats:   Opposes Constitutional recognition
One Nation:        Opposes Constitutional recognition and treaty
Xenophon:          Supports Constitutional recognition

Derryn Hinch:    No clear position
Fred Nile:           Improve education by adding bible study, and cutting Safe Schools
Jacqui Lambie:   Boost TAFE, introduce national-service style apprenticeship scheme
Katter:                 Pro funding boosts, also wants systematic education reform
Lib Democrats:  Stop Federal funding, pro deregulation, cut Austudy
One Nation:       Government subsidised apprenticeship scheme
Xenophon:         Pro Gonski, anti university deregulation

Royal Commission into Banking
Derryn Hinch:    No clear position, may support
Fred Nile:           No clear position
Jacqui Lambie:  Supports
Katter:                Supports
Lib Democrats:  No clear position, unlikely to support
One Nation:       No clear position, may support
Xenophon:         Supports

Derryn Hinch:    No clear position
Fred Nile:           No clear position, wants more infrastructure
Jacqui Lambie:  Supports FTTP
Katter:                Supports FTTP
Lib Democrats:  Prefers private competitive roll out instead of government
One Nation:       Wants high speed broadband, proposes wireless hubs for regions
Xenophon:         Supports FTTP

Federal ICAC
Derryn Hinch:    Probably Pro ICAC
Fred Nile:           No clear position
Jacqui Lambie:  Pro ICAC
Katter:                No clear position
Lib Democrats:  No clear position
One Nation:       Probably Pro ICAC
Xenophon:         Pro ICAC

Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Mandatory detention, prefers Christian refugees,
Jacqui Lambie:   Wants children out of detention, strict monitoring & quotas
Katter:                 Turnbacks, faster assessment, and supply work while on TPVs
Lib Democrats:   Mandatory detention, on/off shore processing, strict entry requirements
One Nation:        Turnbacks
Xenophon:          Dislikes offshore processing, increase intake, speed up processing

Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Better spending, especially in aged care
Jacqui Lambie:   Supports socialised medicine, especially for combat veterans
Katter:                 Supports socialised medicine, wants more services for regions
Lib Democrats:   Abolish Medicare, privatise, The Market will provide… apparently
One Nation:        Supports socialised medicine
Xenophon:          Supports socialised medicine, focus on prevention

On the question of which senators get a six-year stint, and which three… well that is up to the senate.  There are two options:
1. Order-of-election; Out of the 12 state senators, whoever crossed the line first gets six years.
2. Recount; Votes are recounted treating the vote as a normal three-year cycle. Whoever would have been elected on that basis gets six years.
Which one the senate uses will likely depend on the three major parties, with Xenophon once again in position as king-maker. The inestimable Antony Green, of course, covers this question in more detail.

The anti-Islam voting block of Fred Nile, One Nation, and Lambie will bring up issues surrounding Muslim Australians and immigration generally; and likely to include senate inquiries into banning burkas or halal certification and labelling. The LNP could use this flashpoint as a major negotiating chip to pass other legislation; though that is unlikely to be the ABCC bill.

On practical and ideological matters of investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure such as the NBN, the balance is definitely leaning toward the ALP.  Lambie, Katter and Xenophon have shifted to the centre on these issues, and the LNP can no longer rely on social policies to wedge support for their neo-liberal economic programme. Accepting a Federal ICAC may present the ALP with a ticket to govern, but marriage equality is unlikely to get anywhere unless the ALP can push an open vote. Action on climate will be problematic, expect another senate inquiry into nuclear power.

As predicted Derryn Hinch picked up the PUP and Ricky Muir vote, though really has very little to offer beyond his pet name-and-shame project, and animal justice.  Populist by nature, he could decide or shift his vote if a concerted push came from his electorate…

…and that is important to remember. You can write to your MP and your Senator to express your preference. This parliament is an opportunity for voters and community to have a real impact on the nature of the parliament, and what agenda the parliament pursues. Given that the independent parties may decide who gets to form government, the time to start writing is now.


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  1. David1

    That Pigs breakfast of a Senate is entirely due to Turnbull and the LNP supported with love by Di Natale and the Greens who, if they want to progress anywhere, will find a new leader fast. One is staring directly at them in the form of Scott Ludlam

  2. king1394

    Derryn Hinch’s election shows the value of high profile over policies – it might be for only one term but that is 6 years (normally). Does anyone know how the 3 or 6 year terms will be allocated?

  3. Freethinker

    Look this moron:
    Lib Democrats: Abolish Medicare, privatise, The Market will provide… apparently

    Who vote for this individual?

  4. Dan Rowden

    David1, that is an absurd contention. There are several reasons for the “pig’s breakfast” senate that’s looming, one of which is the campaigning of the “evil Lib/Lab duopoly” crowd and their Minor Party Stone Romancing. I mean, did any of these people not appreciate that this political “theory” did not manifest only on the left end of the spectrum? Did they not realise that the promotion of this sort of thinking would give us Derryn Hinch, Pauline Hanson and god knows who else? This was always going to be a danger with that approach.

    If you’ve been a minor-party propagandist, then accept some responsibility for this outcome.

  5. Duffa

    Would a 2nd favor libs or lab? After making a protest would voters return to the libs

  6. David1

    Dan I will stick to my theory, you are welcome to yours….a minor party propagandist, me?

  7. nurses1968

    I’m in your camp on this one as it has been pointed out the cross bench will have about 10 assorted Hansonites, Hinch,IPA, and a few other nonedescripts.
    Antony Green on ABC this morning was saying this would be the perfect election for Labor to lose with the Senate make up, a House devided and the likely infighting.Add to that a worsening global situation to be dealt with.
    An LNP government wouldn’t last 12 months and the ALP could ride in as saviours with a majority to govern in their own right.
    Leave it to the LNP to start the self destruction and a diabolical Senate for a time and it should amount to a wonderful spectator sport if you are an ALP supporter that is.
    It may be heresy but I’m almost hoping Turnbull ends up with a minority government

  8. The Weasel

    Who gets a six year term, and who three?
    Have updated the article, link also here http://ab.co/29Gd1JE

  9. Freethinker

    nurses1968, I have been wishing for a coalition chaos minority if the ALP cannot get a small majority in the HoR.
    I would like to know how long have the possible elected coalition government to pass the budget presented before the election.
    If the main policies do not pass the senate for how long they can survive in power?
    It will last more that 12 months?

  10. diannaart

    It was me.

    I am to blame, I wished for a nightmare senate – with a minority LNP government, but the first part is ALL MY FAULT – simply because I am fed up to the gills with 2 party system held by the short ‘n curlies by big business.


    I did vote Labor for lower house – mainly to help avert LNP mandate. I think that may have worked… but the senate? – it was me, I tells ya.

    Please everyone shake hands and work together for representative democratic government.

  11. Mat

    Just curious about the wording in the Healthcare part of the new Senators’ agendas. Never heard it called socialised Medicine in Australia. That seems to be an American term that’s used there in the pejorative. Would suggest Universal healthcare would be more appropriate in the Australian context.

  12. TuffGuy

    Someone correct me if I am wrong but it has always been my understanding that if someone has been to jail or has a criminal record you cannot be a politician??? And if you are already a politician you get the boot??? Still trying to work out how Hinch can become a Senator.

  13. Dan Rowden


    I didn’t suggest you were a Minor Party propagandist. I’ve always thought you were a pretty solid Labor man, more or less. I find your contention absurd, as I said. The rest of my point will almost certainly stand uncontested.

  14. Matters Not

    What Mat said. The attempt to ‘normalise’ what are current pejorative terms should be discouraged.

    Words matter. They are often a reliable predictor of the meaning that will be given.

  15. Freethinker

    Looking at the background of 3 of the elected independents to HoR the Coalition only will need 73 votes to form government
    The three independents have a conservative pass with the Liberals or Nationals.
    I am 90% that when the time comes they will support the Coalition in the HoR.
    Our only hope is in the senate providing that Pauline not get 4 or more senators there.
    Brandis already is talking with her.

  16. silkworm

    Due to the new senate voting rules, the senate more truly reflects the divisions in the Arstralian population, and that is why the senate is now a circus. Half of the population think like clowns.

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