The incoming Andrews government faces deadlock in the upper house after its thumping win at the Victorian election on the weekend of an unassailable majority in the Legislative Assembly.
Along current predictions it is not clear whether Labor or a prospective coalition of Liberal and Nationals will have the largest number of seats in the upper house but as Crikey‘s Poll Bludger has shown about a third of seats are in doubt, meaning Labor will have to negotiate with a bouquet of minor and micro-party interests.
Some will be very familiar to Labor: the Greens stand to gain a couple of seats to bring them to five overall in the upper. And Labor has co-opted shades of the Sex Party’s policies prior to the election, so it could find a path of less resistance through Fiona Patten, who is in the frame to enter Parliament.
According to the geekLections vote calculator, which had the wildest predictions of all psephology prior to the election based on group voting tickets — their predictions have proved the most reliable in hindsight — the Greens stand to gain a seat in each of the five metro regions, the Sex Party stands to gain one in Northern Metro, the Shooters and Fishers could pick up three in the Western, Eastern and Northern Victoria regions where the Australian Country Alliance is also in the game for a seat, and the Democratic Labour Party could find joy in Western Metro.
GeekLections predicts a Liberal/National coalition would control about 15 seats to Labor’s 14 but the coalition of Nationals and Liberal is itself in doubt pending a party meeting to be held this week.
The Greens have vowed to shut down coal-fired power stations, since the rise of rooftop solar and other renewables has made some coal-burners surplus to baseload power generation during sunlight hours. Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber has revealed a sketch of his party’s strategy to Crikey, which is to use the Greens’ position as the balance of power to call in documents that support their case.
“The least understood power of a parliamentary chamber is the power to probe,” he said. “A parliament has the power to demand any document, person or thing that it needs to scrutinise the government.”
He said they would also call for the business cases of major infrastructure projects of the previous government, such at the widening of the Tullamarine Freeway and the Cranbourne-Pakenham rail corridor project.
But he said the Greens could be stymied by micro-parties campaigning on their narrow interests, or by the Liberals who he said “would probably want to do to [Premier-elect] Dan Andrews what he did to them, which is run a small target strategy of keeping the focus on the other guy and hoping he trips over his own shoelaces.”
Between the Greens and the Sex Party, a voluntary assisted dying bill looks likely to be debated in the new Victorian Parliament. Sex Party lead candidate Fiona Patten says the “first thing” she wants to do if elected is call for the Victorian Law Reform Commission to investigate voluntary assisted dying laws.
Second, she wants a broad range of cannabis-based medicines available to doctors to prescribe to patients. She says while Labor and the Greens are also supportive of medical uses of marijuana, she wants to make sure the available medications are broad enough to treat an array of conditions.
But the Sex Party is not the only micro-party pursuing its own agenda in Victoria. The Shooters and Fishers Party make up a large expected bloc of two or three seats in the Victorian upper house, and their influence can not be discounted. On issues where Labor and the Greens do not agree, the Shooters could be vital to building a majority, as could the Democratic Labour Party and the Australian Country Alliance.
Although the Shooters have been absent from the media throughout the election, the Shooters’ policy documents show a range of hard-right punitive policies, such as naming minors involved in crimes and punishing their parents:
“Custodial parents should be held responsible for the criminal actions of their minor children. Juveniles convicted of heinous crimes should be named publicly in court cases.”
Other policies assert the “right” of law-abiding citizens to own guns and to self-defence:
“The party supports and will promote the right of individuals, particularly women and other vulnerable people, to carry non-lethal means of personal self-defence such as mace if firearms are not an option.”
Crikey has attempted to contact the Shooters many times throughout the election but they have not returned calls.
Along current provisional results, with about half of votes counted, the strongest synergy is along progressive-libertarian policy groups but it is assumed at this stage that the Sex/Greens/Labor group would not have a 21-vote majority needed to pass legislation. Vote counting continues today and for the next two weeks.