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Aug 22, 2010

It's just a jump to the Left

And thus, from the most tedious, uninspiring and insulting election campaign in Australian political history, emerges the most fascinating of results.


And thus, from the most tedious, uninspiring and insulting election campaign in Australian political history, emerges the most fascinating of results.

A hung parliament and a new Senate in which the Greens will have the balance of power and, most likely, a presence of which few of their number would have dared dream.

The mainstream media have been curiously reticent to say it, but the electorate lurched sharply to the Left yesterday. Labor bled just more than 5% of its vote, but most of it — 3.6% — went to the Greens. The Coalition picked up the scraps.

That’s why Labor is still jockeying for government today and hasn’t been obliterated, and why the Greens will have nine senators next year.

Moreover, three traditional Country Party-style figures will be kingmakers, with an agenda for bigger government and more state intervention. There will also be a WA National arriving in Parliament to replace Wilson Tuckey, and he has indicated his willingness to ignore traditional party constraints. Keep an eye on Tony Crook. His relations with the eastern Nationals may not all be smooth sailing.

There was also a big rise in informal votes, with more than 5.6% of voters unable — or unwilling — to fill out their ballots correctly, up from 3.9%.

For all that the major parties have structured the electoral system to perpetuate their grip on power, voters have found ways to resist them, in a result that should rattle the major parties, but most particularly Labor, which faces what may be a long-term erosion of its base support to the Left.

The horse trading will now begin, with Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott, to decide who will form the next government. Tony Crook’s views must also not be irrelevant, given how long the WA Nats took to agree to support Colin Barnett in WA. Bandt has already indicated he will not support an Abbott Government; Andrew Wilkie is presumably not likely to support the Coalition either, although it is not yet clear whether Wilkie or the Greens (or Labor) have secured Denison.

But on current numbers that still leaves Labor with only 72 votes in the House of Representatives, with three seats undecided.

Windsor, Katter and Oakeshott will extract a price for their support. It may be disguised as “regional infrastructure” or dressed up nation-building, but all three have been effective at State and Federal level at securing funding for their electorates. Now they are in a stronger position than ever. As former Nationals, you’d have to expect they would reflexively support Tony Abbott before Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. Expect a Liberal Government before the week is out. But stranger things have happened.

A final note: the AEC has yet again demonstrated why it is the best electoral outfit in the world, running a very close election with expedition, efficiency and integrity. There are always hiccups, but when you see how it’s done in comparable countries, you can only be amazed at how well the AEC does it.

It is one of our finest public institutions.


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67 thoughts on “It’s just a jump to the Left

  1. Gavin Moodie

    I heartily agree about the Australian Electoral Commission, which is far better and operates under far better institutional arrangements than those in the UK and the 50 electoral agencies in the US – a separate one for each state. I only wish it would hurry up with computer voting, which would make entering and counting votes for the Senate below the line much easier and more efficient.

    While I agree that the outcome is the best for political junkies, is it the best for public policy? I agree with what seemed to be the consensus on Crikey’s election blog last nite that a hung Parliament is likely to get a national broadband network for Australia whichever party wins the Lodge – may the fibre gods be praised – altho an Abbott government would execute the NBN bosses and restructure the corporation in a combination of payback and saving face.

    But wont all other big areas be confined to decision slo-mo if not paralysis with all the consensus building, negotiation and deal making that will be needed to get anything done?

  2. John Bennetts

    BK, you are sticking your neck out calling it for the Coalition this early.

    The fun will not be over till Labor have a go at forming a government to present to the GG.

    I believe that one possible outcome would see an independent in the Speaker’s chair, an alliance between the Greens and Labor with at least a couple of Green Ministers and a lot of humble pie being eaten by Tony, the ALP and Andrew Bolt, who seems to think that 49% 2PP beats 51% 2PP.

    Another Reps summary: Lab + Green primaries = 50%. The rest, including all loonies and fellow-travellers = 45%. Informal = 5%. Now who won the hearts and minds?

    Andrew Bolt could not hide his smiles and smirks on ABCTV this morning. No matter what my opinion of the political parties, this oaf deserves his come-uppance and it would be so sweet if his chosen mob still missed sitting to the right of the Speaker.

    Finally, only Green + ALP can deliver a majority in the Senate and thus form a workable government.

    There’s still much fun to be drawn from this election result.

  3. John

    The electorate has resisted the major parties’ refusal to legislate gay marriage by forcing a minority government to be mainly dependant on the Greens for support.
    In addition, it swung strongly towards moderate Liberals such as Malcolm Turnbull (10% swing to him in Wentworth) and Christopher Pyne (managing to hang on in Sturt), for example.
    Also, some minor parties campaigned hard in favour of gay marriage while other minor parties campaigned hard against gay marriage. A breakdown of the support for gay marriage is demonstrated by the National Tally for these minor parties at the close of counting last night. House of Representatives minor parties 4:1 support in favour of gay marriage. Senate minor parties 5:1 support in favour of gay marriage. That is the electorate telling the major parties not to be cowed by the religious right and to enact legislation allowing same-sex marriage.

    National Tally, House of Representatives, First Preferences:

    Party Ordinary Votes Campaigned loudly

    Family First 227,444 2.20% Against gay marriage
    CDP Christian Party 69,770 0.67% 2.87%

    The Greens 1,183,366 11.43% For gay marriage
    Democrats 17,602 0.17% 11.95%
    Liberty and Democracy Party 17,628 0.17%
    Australian Sex Party 8,727 0.08%
    Secular Party of Australia 10,214 0.10%

    National Tally, Senate, First Preferences:

    Party Ordinary Votes Campaigned loudly

    Family First 207,445 2.13% Against gay marriage
    CDP Christian Party 97,631 1.00% 3.13%

    The Greens 1,261,726 12.96% For gay marriage
    Democrats 60,557 0.62% 17.29%
    Liberty and Democracy Party 159,020 1.63%
    Australian Sex Party 193,394 1.99%
    Secular Party of Australia 8,729 0.09%

  4. Barking Gecko

    Oh well.

    If its a hung parliament who will be the speaker, and how will that affect voting outcomes in the House of Reps.

    Let the horse trading and vote buying begin 🙂

  5. Jenny Haines

    Well said Bernard. The majority of the drift away from Labor went to the Greens and that is the problem for Labor, they have lost a lot of their Left base, ie their conscience and their soul, to the Greens. What is left in the Labor Party are factional machines that spend a lot of time on promoting member’s careers, by engaging in factional bickering, occaisonally warfare. And with the Lefts walking out of the Labor Party goes campaining on issues like global warming and climate change, refugees and asylum seekers, workchoices, gay marriage and mental health funding. When Gillard took over from Rudd there was a short hiatus where Gillard could have brought at least some of the supporters who left the Labor Party for the Greens over these issues back towards Labor but she disappointed these people by being more supportive of the conservative views on these issues than the progressive views. That’s what Labor leaders do these days – if things go badly, get more and more conservative, try to grab more of the centre to right of politics. Look where that has got us! No doubt after the dust of this election is settled they will do the same, go more conservative than learn that the people/voters are moving in the opposite direction.

  6. mbernacki

    The ex-National Independents have also copped a lot of flak from Abbot and his party for their decision to leave party politics behind. Don’t be too quick to assume their willingness to help him out now.

  7. Alex

    Just like the city-based mainstream media, Mr Keane is showing a misunderstanding of rural affairs. Rather than ancient political ties, the National Broadband Network will be the single biggest concern of the three confirmed Independents. The benefits it could give rural Australians is completely unappreciated.

    Further, while the ‘faceless men of the Labor Party’ have become a Latham-like spectre hanging over Gillard’s campaign, the (in)famous backstabbing and preselection politics of the National Party over many years has not endeared the Coalition to Mr Windsor, Mr Katter or Mr Oakeshott. Nor, for that matter, would the the smear campaign launched by the Nationals against Mr Windsor in the 2007 election.

    Personally, I find it reassuring that our electoral system has placed the short-term future of our country in the hands of three experienced legislators whom genuinely represent their constituents (as their massive margins demonstrate). They are the type of representatives our system is meant to promote and one can only hope that this election signals a more diverse, representational brand of Australian politics.

  8. John

    My previous table got scrambled. Here it is in legible format:

    National Tally, House of Representatives, First Preferences:

    Campaigned loudly AGAINST gay marriage
    Family First 2.20% + CDP Christian Party 0.67%
    Against gay marriage total= 2.87%

    Campaigned loudly FOR gay marriage
    The Greens 11.43% + Democrats 0.17% + Liberty and Democracy Party 0.17% + Australian Sex Party 0.08% +Secular Party of Australia 0.10%
    For gay marriage total = 11.95%

    National Tally, Senate, First Preferences:

    Campaigned loudly AGAINST gay marriage
    Family First 2.13% + CDP Christian Party 1.00%
    Against gay marriage total = 3.13%

    Campaigned loudly FOR gay marriage
    The Greens 12.96% + Democrats 0.62% + Liberty and Democracy Party 1.63% + Australian Sex Party 1.99% + Secular Party of Australia 0.09%
    For gay marriage total = 17.29%

  9. susan elfert

    Labor will very likely retain Corangamite and Lindsay, wrench back Macquarie on Greens preferences as the week unfolds (just watch!) and even take Boothby. As for Adam Bandt succeeding someone of Tanner’s stature in Melbourne, surely it can only improve the function of the People’s Assembly to have an articulate dissenter in the legislature at last!

    Not over by a long shot, comrades, and the Coalition knows it. So do the Good Family Abbott, who should never have been subjected to the glare of the cameras late Saturday night and whose distraught faces were a sharp reminder to us all of the cost to individuals of the murky business of politics.

    As ever, though, Jenny Haines sums up Labor’s dilemma. The banality of the last five weels has effectively masked serious concerns in the Party’s heart and soul and we see it all reflected in the Greerns’ vote. The True Believers won’t desert, of course… there’s too much to be done, and too many decent people still on board, and we could well be back on the hustings sooner than anyone’s predicted.


  10. Jack Strocchi

    Bernard Keane said:

    The mainstream media have been curiously reticent to say it, but the electorate lurched sharply to the Left yesterday. Labor bled just more than 5% of its vote, but most of it — 3.6% — went to the Greens. The Coalition picked up the scraps.

    Rubbish. Mr Keane needs to learn some basic electoral arithmetic. This election the total electorate shift a couple of points to the Right. With both sides of politics polarising away from their moderate and towards their militant wings.

    In 2007 HoR primary vote, the Broad Left (ALP/GREEN) won just over 51%, whilst the Broad Right (L/NP/OTHERs) won about 48%.

    In 2010 HoR primary vote, the Broad Left (ALP/GREEN) won a bit over 48% , whilst the Broad Right (L/NP/OTHERs) won a bit over 50%.

    So there was a significant 2% overall shift of the electorate to the Right. Within the Broad Right the electorate swung to the militant Right-wing candidate – Abbott. Whilst within the Broad Left, the electorate swung to the militant Left-wing candidate – Brown.

    Please, spare us the spin from sour-grapes Leftists.

  11. John Robinson

    Another vote for the AEC. Seeing how much the corruption of these basic public institutions costs so many countries, we have to be grateful and proud we can generally trust them. This result and the political stupidities around it aren’t be the disaster it would be in most other countries. We are well served by these institutions and the people that run them. The AEC are the stars of this election. Full marks for mentioning it Bernard.

  12. Pamela

    A pox on both their houses. Hung parliament gives “US THE PEOPLE” our best chance to be heard.
    No doubt the Murdoch press will start catastrophizing about disaster murder and mayhem and “instability”.
    I lived in Holland in the eighties with no government for 11 months- everything functioned as usual.
    Hopefully the ” independants” will be just that – independant.
    An election without substance has delivered a conclusive verdict from the people.
    Life just got awhole lot more interesting.

  13. John

    Latest (Preliminary) House of Reps Results for all Secular Party of Australia candidates:

    Highest vote (percentage wise) went to Quintin Hedges-Phillips for Fraser in the ACT with 1.94% of the vote.

    The rest were:

    LYONS (L.Noyes) 1.54%
    CAPRICORNIA (S.Jeffery) 0.50%
    FARRER (M.Crothers) 1.33%
    SYDNEY (C.Owen) 0.92%
    MURRAY (W.Clarke-Hannaford) 0.49%
    JAGAJAGA (C.Kearney) 0.60%
    MELB PORTS (G.Storer) 0.64%
    SHORTLAND (P.Williams) 0.69%
    WARRINGAH (K.Cooke) 0.67%
    CHISHOLM N.Evans) 0.70%
    LALOR (P.Sheehan) 0.80%
    MELBOURNE (P. Green) 0.67%
    WENTWORTH (J. August) 0.31%
    GILMORE (A. Williams) 0.31%
    HOTHAM (T.Reardon) 0.64%
    HOLT (M.Hitchens) 0.72%
    MCEWEN (R.Gordon) 0.48%
    BOOTHBY (A.Chapman) 0.38%

  14. zut alors

    Disagree with you about a Coalition government by the end of the week, Bernard – those independents may be harbouring old wounds which make the prospect of getting into bed with Abbott (!!) far too onerous. Sorry for that imagery, folks.

    Yes, let’s hear it for the AEC – they aren’t perfect but they’re not far off.

  15. Gavin Moodie

    Thanx John

    I was mightily tempted by the Secular Party, but in the end voted on class in this, as in most other elections.

    The Secular Party made a good showing, but were creamed by the christians. Here are the national Senate first preferences:

    Family First 207,445 (+0.51)

    DLP – Democratic Labor Party 99,453 (+0.10)

    CDP Christian Party 97,631 (+0.06)

    Secular Party of Australia 8,729 (+0.09)

  16. beryceann@bigpond.com

    Alex has got it right. The collective wisdom of the people is that the two major parties must now stop treating the electorate like fools and work a lot harder to win back their confidence. The nice coincidence of having a few of strong boundary riders on the fences to ensure they actually do the work may also ensure some better outcomes for all of us, regardless of where we live.

  17. Robert Merkel

    Yes, congratulations to the AEC.

    No to computer voting (and I speak with some professional expertise here).

    There are only two advantages to computer voting at a polling place. The first it can put the disabled on a level playing field with the rest of us, the second is that it will give faster counts.

    The second is, frankly, an irrelevance.

    The first is a desirable goal, but it mustn’t be done at the expense of the integrity of the broader electoral system (and can be done without compromising the integrity of the system, as I will explain).

    Essentially, the problem with computer-based voting without a human-verifiable paper ballot is that it is a) possible for the machines to fail, either through accident or malice, in all manner of subtle and very difficult to detect ways. The second is that it is impossible for even highly-qualify experts to certify that such failures have not occurred, let alone the thousands of scrutineers and AEC employees who are not experts in software reliability and security.

    For the relatively small number of people whose disabilities make them incapable of casting a paper-and-pencil vote, it is technically quite feasible to build systems that they can use to produce a human-readable paper ballot.

  18. Gavin Moodie

    But Robert, you’ve forgotten the third advantage: making it much easier to cast a valid vote below the line for the scores of Senate candidates. One might also add that automated systems are far more efficient than manual systems for routine processes like voting.

    If computers can be trusted to transfer millions of dollars around the globe surely it is possible to write a system that can be trusted to record, count and publish votes.

  19. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Jenny Haines, I don’t think you acknowledge enough the Kevin Rudd debts that Julia Gillard has had to repay. You say, “That’s what Labor leaders do these days – if things go badly, get more and more conservative, try to grab more of the centre to right of politics. Look where that has got us!”
    Think about the political capital that Kevin Rudd burned in the first few days after the 2007 election when he said he would pick his own ministry and would not be tutored by the factions or unions. Rudd didn’t need to say that publicly – he had already won the election. He could have taken another tack but that’s the one he chose. He wanted to be loved by everyone so he spent all the available political credit (supplied with interest by the factions) buying the honeymoon from heaven. Rudd never made a payment on the loan. The GFC came along and in the frenzy of necessary stimulus spending the media and public ignored the outstanding political debt which Rudd still had hanging around his neck – a debt to the factional loan sharks of absolute last resort, even nastier than the worst payday lenders.
    At the start of 2010, with an election some months away, they started to make their demands. “The debt must be cleared now, not later and why not start by going out to this list of electorates and naming this list of candidates (provided by our National Executive) as your preferred team. These are our people (you don’t have people any more), you’ll hate all of them but you will turn up in the prime ministerial jet, put your arm around them and endorse their candidacy with a photo in the local Murdoch rag.”Particularly in Queensland where Murdoch owns all the papers and they’ll be only too happy to pay out on you.” That will nearly be enough.”
    This way the factions got all their people in place – regardless of the impact on dedicated party members or supporters, let alone the electability of the ALP. Then the loan sharks came back and said, “We haven’t quite finished yet”. Tomorrow we’ll send Julia G. around to explain why you will no longer be the leader. If you can work something out with her about your future, good on you, but tomorrow you are gone. Now piss off.
    The rest is history.

  20. C0rkh4t

    I wouldn’t mind an electronic voting machine that spits out a paper ballot that I can then verify before dropping in the box. That would have made filling in all 84 of the NSW senate boxes much less painful.

  21. Gavin Moodie

    @ C0rkh4t

    We had only 60 on the Senate paper in Victoria, so maybe I shouldn’t be whingeing!

    My computer system would also check the validity of a vote before it was cast, producing error messages such as – ‘You have entered 2 preferences at number 20: do you want to confirm or change your vote?’

  22. Socratease

    ^ In how many languages?

  23. Socratease


    those independents may be harbouring old wounds which make the prospect of getting into bed with Abbott (!!) far too onerous

    True, but you know that saying of Jack Lang’s about backing the horse called self-interest.

  24. Rorschach

    How do you get from Labor down 5% and the Greens up some 3 odd % to a swing to the left, exactly ?
    I agree the campaign was particularly tedious and intellectually retarded, but what I’ve seen is a swing to the right, not the left.

    As to the Independents, I heard a lot about the NBN from them this morning on the radio, so hopefully all is not lost.

  25. Dave Donohue

    Good summation Charlie McColl – certainly the case here in Herbert.

  26. John

    Whether it is a swing to the left or not, the electorate has demanded that the political parties must stand for something and the voters will decide whether we want it. The electorate does not want the parties to change their policies in order to have a long time in governnment.

    The other message from the voters is that we give the government a mandate and they must either use it or lose it. We want them to have a good time, not a long time, in power.

  27. Malcolm Street

    I think Labor is more likely to form government. They’ve got Brandt and (if elected) Wilkie on side and as others have put in more detail above there’s no love lost between the rural independents and the Coalition. Labor has shown an interest in infrastructure and nation-building.

    If Abbott does manage to put together a majority, he’ll be lucky to get anything through the Senate (apart from parental leave) . Many would say that it would be poetic justice for Abbott blocking the CPRS in the Senate after Turnbull had OK’d it. I’d expect a double-dissolution within a year.

  28. Michael R James

    JOHN BENNETTS at 12:13 pm, we are in complete agreement (sounds of french horns!).

    As to BK’s implication of a Coalition government, as others here have pointed out, it seems unlikely even without knowing the final seats count. Perhaps Bernard didn’t catch Katter totally pouring ordure on the LNP, and saying some complementary things about Labor (not too much praise but for Katter…..). Windsor has stated he could not support a government with Barnaby Joyce in it! You gotta love him. Oakshott looks like the perfect speaker (and a young one not the usual superannuated old fart…). The notion that these ex-nats will get more pork from LNP is 180 degrees wrong; they will lock it in with Labor where it will be more likely to be honoured (and these guys want a better quality pork than the usual stuff country bumpkins want). I actually want Katter to hold one of his shotguns to the head of whoever it takes to break up the grocery duopoly. It will be well worth the cost of any pork he requests.

    BK also wrote this before Julia Gillards speech today. Critics will say it was just predicatable sucking up to anyone she needs to, for power, but I found it a really good speech (as was Rudds, why the heck cannot they talk like this during elections; silly me, those moronic bogans in W Sydney and Longman etc). She indicated she got the message loud and clear that was sent by the Greens and the dissatisfied (the Latham option, 6% !). We (yes I vote Green everywhere I can these days) got what we wanted. On the other hand Tony Abbott in his speech last night and 3 minute announcement today was saying exactly the same old mantra (pay back the debt, blah, blah, blah) and I believe inadvisedly trying to claim legitimacy. Gillard admitted that neither side had earned legitimacy–a true statement. (In fact old tony was back today: he began “Look, um, errr……then a series of those horrible glottal clicks” which amazingly he had managed to suppress during the campaign–it may be wishful thinking but I kinda think he knows he is not going to grab the prize this time.

  29. Mack the Knife

    I would like to see Bob Katter get a Guernsey in a working non coalition government.

    As long as the fibs can’t tear down the health, education and NBN reforms its a good election result, especially if the Greens control the Senate.

    I hope the unscrupulous media baron fails to profit from the outcome.

  30. John

    In Westminster systems, in minority situations, the incumbent government always has the first opportunity to attempt to win the confidence of the House. The now-common practice of the party with the most seats forming the government has led to a widespread misconception among voters that this is now the convention. (The reason for this practice is that the party with the most seats is more likely to survive confidence votes).

    The independants can succumb to moral persuasion such as who won the most seats, who won the most primary votes or who won the 2PP vote.

  31. klewso

    “A good election to lose”?
    As for Abbott – “The Prime Minister we had to have”?

  32. John james

    I would be amazed if Katter, Windsor or Oakeshot supported a Labor government. I appreciate there are some frictions between individuals, but in each of their seats Labor polled no more than 20% of the primary vote ( In New England it was less than 10% ).
    So while they are independents, there is much at stake for their political futures.
    The Coalition may not be popular in the seats of New England, Lynne and Kennedy, but Labor are absolutely detested.
    Labor are inherently unstable. You can sense the simmering discontent, bubbling to the surface in Maxine McKew’s concession speech when she said ( I’ll paraphrase ), in more diplomatic language, ” who were the f**kwits who knifed K. Rudd, then went to an election 8 weeks later?”
    When Abbott took the Opposition leader’s role I drew an analogy with the charge of the lighthorse.
    There must have been a point at Beersheba when the Turks realised the cavalry were underneath the artillery range and would breech the perimeter.
    Abbott has breeched it, and now watch the political bayonets come out.
    He will search out the Left, and now Gillard, Shorten and the faceless union assassins who took out an Australian PM have no where to hide.

  33. Oscar Jones

    It has to be Labor for the one reason-national broadband.

    It’s one thing to go back to the 50’s with the master’s apprentice but big business..and that includes the atrocious Murdoch media , we will be the laughing stock of Asia if we get stuck with the Coalition’s idea of net speeds.

    This election if more than anything else shows we are beholden to what comes out of the ground and those who control it.

  34. ian milliss

    I’m with Jenny, despite the fact that the lesson is staring them in the face, despite the fact that they are now hostage to the greens given how dependent they are on their preferences to keep hold of another huge swag of seats, the factions (particularly the right) will continue their pursuit of the knucklehead vote even though that is a demonstrably shrinking demographic that can never be relied on even when you temporarily hold it.

  35. michael crook

    Thank you Pamela, you have just made me feel a lot better.
    John, re gay marriage, dont forget Socialist Alliance, small in votes but very very big in leading pro gay activism, including some excellent gay candidates.
    Bernard, our electoral system is not too bad, especially compared to the US model, but is still open to rorting by multiple voting and dead people voting. the Venezuelan system on the other hand is almost absolutely foolproof, with both a voter photo ID and a corroborative, data base matched, thumbprint, all before a ballot paper is issued.

  36. John james

    @michael crook ” excellent gay candidates…the Venezualan system is ..foolproof”

    A homosexual apologist lauding Hugo Chavez and the Greens.
    Says it all!
    Probably in favour of killing unborn children and the frail/elderly. Certainly is Green policy!
    Reminds me how much work Abbo still has to do!

  37. John

    As Bill Shorten is her son-in-law, does the GG have a conflict of interest?

  38. Oscar Jones

    Anyone know why Turnbull was on the smirk ? .His career is over one way or the other.

  39. Tamas Calderwood

    Agreed: The AEC is bullet proof. There is not the slightest question about the process of our democracy. Our very best systems are the ones we so take for granted.

  40. shepherdmarilyn

    I think it is precisely the result we need. Gillard and the drones thought they could stab a sitting PM on the comeback, the one in the room with ideas and brains and simply giggle her way to the lodge.

    Abbott’s only plan is to beat up on refugees – all the independents have said no to that bullshit.

  41. Rena Zurawel

    I love the result of this election, whatever it is. There is some chance and hopes at last that we’ll have a more civilised parliament.
    And perhaps, we can only hope that for the next election the party leaders will do their homework long before the campaign.

  42. klewso

    “Informals” :- “80+%(?)” votes counted and “informals” up “40%”? Not a lot, but enough to have made a difference? And an indication that the majors (“Labor”?) in the way they are becoming exclusive “country clubs” in the way they operate (and not just Labor – “in Wentworth, vote for Turnbull, in an Abbott government, if you want something done for climate change”?????), are losing some attraction?
    Some people are realising what power they have, wielding it like that – when to continue voting, “conventionally”, no matter what they serve up, only encourages them to keep doing what they are.
    Some people don’t like the way others “abuse” their vote this way – some want to embarrass others by saying people fought and died for people to vote – anyone who died fighting to tell us “how to vote” were wasted.
    Just, maybe, the way the party system operates in this country now, the way it has been allowed to come to this (some go into politics to make a difference, but look what happens – “government” is not all about power, influence and prestige, despite what the party heavies – Labor, Liberal, Nationals, “Murdoch”, “the Fielding side”, even the Greens, watching Hanson-Young, and Bob Brown, “once a year”, makes you wonder about fairies at the bottom of the garden – seem to think), the way it actually disenfranchises much of the rank and file – delivering power to those happily locked in the party cockpit, the party operators – needs a shake up, and this might be the only way, to do it – and it might not have to go on too long – if more people did it, at only one or two elections.
    There are a growing number of people that seem to look at the party system as it is now, and think, “no-one represents what I think” – “It doesn’t matter how much lip-stick you put on it, this is still a pork body and I won’t kiss it!”

  43. Space Kidette

    I found it interesting tonight on Channel 7 that Richo, election number cruncher extraordinaire, (despite his other faults) when pushed for an outcome refused to call it. He has known the independents over many years and knew them to be truly independent – and nobody’s fools.

    I think we might have to wait at nearly two weeks because these guys are going to want to see where all the cards fall before they play their own hands. God help the negotiator’s from the major parties when they come to woo them, because these seasoned independents will see through any bs at a hundred paces.

  44. collette.snowden

    Why is that political commentary fails to mention that “The Coalition” is not a party? It is two parties with separate organisations, separate leadership, separate manifestos, etc but they manage to work together – not always happily or willingly it seems, but they do manage it. The Liberal party by itself would never be able to govern Federally, and ditto the Nationals. Is it not possible that Labor and the Greens could form a working alliance? Given the demise of the left in the ALP – even Julia herself is a shadow of the feisty radical who joined it as a student – it might actually save the party of morphing into a defacto third faction of the Coalition.

  45. collette.snowden

    Why is that political commentary fails to mention that “The Coalition” is not a party? It is two parties with separate organisations, separate leadership, separate manifestos, etc but they manage to work together – not always happily or willingly it seems, but they do manage it. The Liberal party by itself would never be able to govern Federally, and ditto the Nationals. Is it not possible that Labor and the Greens could form a working alliance? Given the demise of the left in the ALP – even Julia herself is a shadow of the feisty radical who joined it as a student – it might actually save the party from morphing into a defacto third faction of the Coalition.

  46. Daniel

    “When Abbott took the Opposition leader’s role I drew an analogy with the charge of the lighthorse.”

    A better comparison would be with the charge of the light brigade. lol

  47. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    There’s no reason at all why Labor can’t form some sort of coalition. But who with? Given the various parties’ different views on ‘marriage’, this could be an interesting moment with more writhing than a can of worms.

  48. Gavin Moodie


    I agree that a governing alliance of Labor and the Greens could be workable and likely. But it shouldn’t be a coalition such as the Liberals and the Nationals have because Cabinet solidarity would compromise the Greens’ core values too much, as it has compromised the Nationals.

  49. JamesK

    The AEC do indeed to an excellent job.

    So at least some public servants have a real job, Bernard.

    Not all of ’em simply make up even greater numbers for the pie-eating vote.

  50. Meski

    A move to the left, if you consider the Greens to be to the left of where Labor have positioned themselves. That’s not a hard argument to make. And it isn’t surprising that a lot of people made it, considering the better policies the Greens have in a number of places.

  51. Wobbly

    Left and right categorisation is outdated and a phoney guide to making a call on legitimacy here.

    Many Greens policies are much more free-market than Labor or Liberal. Liberal climate change policies are downright socialist! Then theirs Abbotts paid maternity leave. Labor has moved to the right on lysum seekers and other issues. The ex-Nationals aren’t exactly conservative either. Oakeshott has voted 60% for Labor since being elected and has a significant sea-change / tree-changer vote. Agrian-socialism – where does that really fit on the left-right spectrum. So on and so on…

    Notions of left and right are history and it’s poor journalism or commentry to simplify it in those terms.

  52. Meski

    @Wobbly, yes, that’s somewhat true, if you look at charts like


    They show an extra set of categorisation, with libertarian/statist included.

  53. Gavin Moodie


    Your comment is often made, and of course most parties are hard to classify as conservative or reformist as you point out. But I believe that there is still a basic test to determine left and right wing policies: class. The question is: would the party’s policies increase or decrease the inequality in the distribution of wealth and income?

    On this test the Greens are mildly left, Labor is right but the Liberals are further right. The Nationals seek a redistribution in favour of their constituents, most of whom are poorer than average. But they are anti union and are happy for an increase in economic inequality as long as it is in the bush’s favour, so I still classify the Nats as right wing.

  54. Puff, the Magic Dragon.

    [I only wish it would hurry up with computer voting, which would make entering and counting votes for the Senate below the line much easier and more efficient.]

    While I love my techy stuff, or maybe because of I do, I instinctively distrust computerised voting. There were enough glaring IT-related anomalies in the elections of G W Bush to the presidency of the USA to sound a warning to us. IMHO, the paper, pencil and scrutinized manual counting of votes is our best defence against election tampering.

  55. Gavin Moodie


    I agree that the US voting machines have been managed dreadfully and that such nonsense has to be avoided. But of course those machines are mechanical, not electronic.

    As I wrote in response to ROBERT MERKEL, if computers can be trusted to transfer millions of dollars around the globe surely they can be trusted to count votes.

  56. zut alors

    @ Gavin M,

    “if computers can be trusted to transfer millions of dollars around the globe surely they can be trusted to count votes.”

    Isn’t that how white collar crime flourishes these days? All that missing money the banks never admit to for fear it will ruin their image.

  57. Gavin Moodie

    @Zut Alors

    Point taken. But isn’t most of the missing money crooks pinching credit card details from unsecure transactions?

  58. zut alors

    Gavin M,

    I’ve heard stories more serious than that.

    Voting at the local booths is a great tradition, why change it? In these days when we’re disconnecting with the real world and going cyber-everything it’s an opportunity to spot a few familiar faces at the polling booth and shore up some of those weakening neighbourhood bonds. We already have a workable voting regime, what would be achieved by fiddling with it?

  59. EngineeringReality

    Yes the AEC does a stirling job.

    The only time I questioned their ability was when I copped an eyeful of the bright purple vest they had the Polling Officials wearing this year – but their amazing efficiency and reputation puts our democracy at the top of the list of Best in the World.

    As for computer voting – no, no, no!

    So what if you have to use a pencil to make a few marks on a piece of paper once every 3-4 years? For children coming of age it will be a learning experience (we used to write with these pieces of graphite encased in wood) and for the rest of us a bit of nostalgia – as there are some of us who haven’t used a pencil since the last election.

  60. Gavin Moodie

    I’d still have voting at local booths, but on a screen rather than on paper. This would make it much easier to vote correctly for the Senate below the line, votes would be counted much quicker (granted, another great tradition of the election nite party lost) and it would be much more efficient. I don’t feel nostalgic about pencils, possibly cos I still use them at home and at work.

    I personally would prefer to vote on line, but I don’t know how one would verify voters’ identity yet.

  61. michael crook

    I have mentioned before the Venezuelan voting process, which is computerised with a paper backup, and uses photo and thumbprint data base ID checks, you gotta see it, even the anti socialist parties in Venezuela have no problem with it, it really is just about foolproof, and no counting starts until the last polling booth in the country has closed, they then have the results 5 minutes later, magic, google it and see. One should never compare anything with the US system of electronic or mechanical voting machines any US system has built in corruption for when the Republicans need it. eg Florida and Ohio.

  62. zut alors


    The pencils are extremely practical, I always use them unless signing something. The reasons the AEC uses pencils are that they store well between elections and don’t dry out (like biros) nor do they run out while being used (like biros). Pencils are reliable – unlike biros…and computers.

  63. Gavin Moodie

    Thanx Michael Crook

    I hadn’t gathered the import of your mention of Venezuela’s electronic voting system. It has touch screen voting machines and biometric identification devices – great!

    Pencils are indeed reliable, but so were clay tablets.

  64. michael crook

    Thanks for taking the trouble to look Gavin, I was with a group observing the 2008 State and Municipal elections, and it was a great experience. The only downsides, if they can be called that, were the necessity to return to the town where you initially registered, or were born, to actually vote, but I think they were working on that one. The other one was the amount of time actually taken to vote, by the time the voter, proved who he was, and went on into the polling booth to pick up his ballot paper, he or she then went into the cubicle to vote, and this is where the time element came in. They were expected to take three minutes to actually think about their vote before registering it on the machine, and then had to wait a further three minutes in the cubicle just in case they had second thoughts. This time meant that it took a long time to vote, but, at the booths we attended, they seemed quite happy queueing and chatting, a bit of a social occasion really, and what is wrong with making voting a time consuming process, it is after all a very important activity. As I said, there is NO complaint about the system itself, even from the opposition. The other thing we witnessed were the Communal Councils in operation and there you really see community participation at the grass roots level, but thats another story. Google “communal councils Venezuela” for more info. Better still, go and have a look, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network, AVSN, organise very cheap accompanied tours, one is going later this year, be prepared to rough it a little, but you wont regret it. regards, Mike

  65. Puff, the Magic Dragon.

    “they then have the results 5 minutes later, magic…”

    Where is the fun in that.

  66. Peter Phelps

    [A final note: the AEC has yet again demonstrated why it is the best electoral outfit in the world, running a very close election with expedition, efficiency and integrity. There are always hiccups, but when you see how it’s done in comparable countries, you can only be amazed at how well the AEC does it.

    It is one of our finest public institutions.]

    Bernard and I rarely agree, but on this point we are as one.

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