There are five seats still in doubt as far as I’m concerned, though it’s not unknown for outsiders to emerge on the radar late in the count. In post-redistribution terms, Labor has lost Bennelong, Macarthur, Macquarie and Gilmore in New South Wales; Bonner, Dawson, Dickson, Flynn, Forde, Herbert, Leichhardt and Longman in Queensland; Solomon in the Northern Territory; and Swan in Western Australia.
In Victoria, Labor gained McEwen and La Trobe and lost Melbourne to the Greens. Also in Western Australia, as a notional count conducted late in the evening has made clear, Wilson Tuckey has lost O’Connor to Tony Crook of the Nationals, who has promised to sit on the cross-benches rather than join the Coalition party room.
This produces a base result of 70 seats for Labor and the increasingly complex beast known as the Coalition (42 seats for the Liberals, 21 for Queensland’s Liberal National Party, six for the NSW and Victorian Nationals and one for the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party); one seat for the non-Coalition Nationals WA; one for the Greens; and three independents. Of the five seats in doubt, as many as four could go to the Coalition (three to the Liberals and one to the LNP), with the other being the contest between Labor and an independent in Denison.
Labor’s best case scenario involves an independent in the Speaker’s chair and a bare majority on the floor (with Adam Bandt of the Greens as a further safety buffer). At the other end of the scale, a loose arrangement with Tony Crook could allow the Coalition to achieve something similar. In between are various scenarios involving a collective kingmaker role for Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott. The best guess at this stage is that the four Labor-versus-Coalition undecideds will break two-all, while Denison is impossible to read.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
One imagines the independents’ most pressing concern would be the deep conservatism of the electorates; however, Labor has in its hand the prospect of Labor-Greens Senate majority that would complicate any Coalition claim to offer the greater stability.
If a minority Coalition government eventuated – and this intuitively seems the most likely outcome – it would presumably be keep to set up some double dissolution triggers with an eye to another election about 18 months down the track. For the time being it would have available to it the existing Senate configuration until the middle of next year, in which it could pass legislation provided it had the support of Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon.
Which should give you all plenty to chew on.