It’s been simmering below the surface for weeks, but has now burst forth. A plan to rid the Senate of the pesky cross bench and make government safe for the major parties.
Lenore Taylor was onto it last Friday. The LNP government have plotted with the Greens and Nick Xenophon to change the senate voting system, presumably to their advantage. I suspect the real winner may be Xenophon, having turned himself into a party and able to pull from left and right. He may end up controlling the balance of power in the senate no matter who wins the Reps. Certainly the micro parties are up for the chop.
As Antony Green explains the legislation is based on the principle that voters rather than parties determine the flow of preferences. You can vote 1 to 6 above the line, and your vote is still valid if you stop before 6.
But curiously, if you vote below the line you need to fill in the whole ballot sheet. I’m one of the 3% of dedicated below the line voters. I don’t always follow the order preferred by a party for it’s candidates, and I don’t like having to put a number next to names I’ve never heard of. I’m particular about who I put last.
There has been commentary that a micro party with 4% of primary votes could still get up. I’m cool with that, and cool with the notion that if they can’t get that far it may as well be a lottery.
Green points out that there will be no counting of senate votes on the election night, presumably as a consequence of what happened in WA last election.
Labor is divided on the whole issue, but they are strictly irrelevant on this one.
Of the cross bench of eight only John Madigan, who has turned himself into a party, is up for re-election in the normal course of events. As Taylor points out, unless Turnbull goes for a double dissolution he is going to have a cantankerous cross bench to deal with next term.
But apparently the DD option involves calling an election the day after the budget in May and having a 53 day campaign. A longer campaign normally favours the opposition. Turnbull would be crazy to do it, but I think he would be attracted to centering the campaign on union corruption and the resurrection of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
The micro parties have threatened to join forces to run candidates in LNP marginal seats directing preferences to Labor. David Leyonhjelm sounds quite serious about it. It could happen and it may make a difference. In 1998 the whole election swung on about 3000 votes.
On Saturday John Quiggin predicted that Bill Shorten would be the prime minister after the next election. On Sunday the news came through that Newspoll now has the LNP and Labor 50-50, whereas three weeks ago the LNP maintained its consistent 53-47 lead.
In the personal ratings Shorten has come up a bit and Turnbull down a bit, but Turnbull is still well ahead. However, we may vote for policy rather than personality.
The question now is whether a trend negative to the LNP has been established and whether it will affect the timing of the electiom.
Impossible to say.
Fairfax-Ipsos last week had the LNP up 52-48 and narrowing. This week Essential is 52-48 and widening. It’s all margin of error stuff.
I don’t have a link but there was a Galaxy poll of federal voting intentions in Queensland about a week ago. The LNP were ahead 57-43. I think the ALP currently holds six of 30 seats. Unless the Queensland economy improves I think Bill Shorten can’t win.