“A vote for Nick Xenophon is a vote for all the of the uncertainty of a Greens/Labor/Xenophon/independent alliance. There is a clear choice.”

So said Malcolm Turnbull in the lead-up to Saturday’s poll, raising the terrifying spectre of the Gillard 2010 minority government. Now, of course, Xenophon is Turnbull’s best friend, as both sides court the potential kingmaker to form government.

But were the Gillard years really so bad? By some measures, Gillard was Australia’s most productive prime minister, passing the most legislation per day in office. From 2010-2013 Labor passed the Gonski funding for schools and the important National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Gillard government also raised the tax-free threshold to $18,000 and set up the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

So maybe having to negotiate with independents and a crossbench who are not necessarily your political bedfellows is not a bad thing. After all, having a massive majority and compliant Senate allowed John Howard to bring in WorkChoices and run roughshod over the opposition. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have to negotiate every bill, and as Gillard proved, it can be extremely productive. Whatever happens over the next three years, we certainly live in interesting times.

Peter Fray

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