So fellow harpies, I am an avid election watcher, participator, how to vote hander outerer, and election party partier, especially with federal elections. On the 21st August 2010 Australia went to the polls, with a unique situation – the first female Australian Prime Minister leading the Labor Party, and a Catholic Liberal Party Opposition Leader (Catholicism has generally been associated with the Labor Party).
This is the first election where I have not been actively involved in the whole election campaign process, in part due to writing an honours thesis, and also I have become disillusioned with what the two major parties, Labor (less conservative) and Liberal (conservative), have put up by way election policy. I couldn’t in good conscience be involved in election campaigning this time around.
This is the first federal election in my memory where it looks like that Australia will have a hung parliament – according to Australian electoral pundit, Antony Green (check out his stuff here – swooning over Antony Green is a national past-time). This means that in the Australian House of Representatives, the lower house, no party will be able to form Government and sit on the treasury benches as neither major party has 76 or more members in their own right (out of a possible 150). And my blood is running cold with the thought of Australia being pulled once again to the Right, and returning to the 1950s and so called “traditional values.”
So here am I, my tv turned on to the election coverage of the ABC (the national public broadcaster), watching with unbelievable interest in an election that will definitely shape public policy in Australia for the next 20 years.
The lead up to this election was mixed – the former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was deposed by the “faceless” head office machinations, and the first Australian female prime minister, Julia Gillard replaced him. The opposition, the Liberals, have had 3 different leaders in three years with even more rancour between changing leaders and party machinations. There was a major campaign being run by the mining industry lobby group against Labor, specifically to do with changes to tax policy. The Labor party did not pursue an emissions trading scheme despite the former prime minister saying it was the most important issue in our time, and not working with one of the minor parties in the Senate (the federal upper house). The Liberals were obstinate in the upper house, refusing to work with Labor to introduce policies that were part of Labor’s election platform in 2007. Add into the mix, general discontent with state Labor governments, in 4 states, across the country – and well it was going to be an unpredictable election.
With a hung parliament looking increasingly likely, independent and non-major party members are looked to by the major parties for the potential to form a coalition government.
The three sitting conservative independents, 2 in New South Wales and 1 in Queensland, have been returned convincingly to the lower house; though they may be considered conservative they would more than likely have more in common with Labor. It looks like two new non-major party left wing candidates have also been elected to the House of Representatives in Victoria and Tasmania – the Greens in Victoria and an independent in Tasmania.
At this stage the results of Western Australia, and in some of the closer seats the pre-poll and absentee votes, will determine the outcome of the election, and in particular whether the Labor Party loses more lower house seats than expected.
It’s still not sure whether Labor will reach the magic number of 76 seats. The pundits are predicting at this stage of 73 seats to the Liberals, 72 to Labor, and 5 to independents/Greens. In some ways, the Labor party forming coalition with independents and minor party members will be a good thing.
I will be watching the outcome of this election closely over the next 2 weeks, especially as the current leaders of the Liberals and Labor, depending on how many lower house seats are actually won, try to cobble together a coalition to form government.