What have we done?

While Antony Green at the end of Saturday night deemed the election result unknowable, Bill Shorten gave a victory speech that declined to claim victory, but said the Coalition had lost their mandate. “Labor is back”, he said.

Turnbull waited until after midnight, claimed a victory in the making, and in what many considered an ungracious speech, blamed everyone except himself. It was a political speech which neglected some of the conventions. Michelle Grattan, in an excellent analysis, said he was “extraordinarily lacking in self-awareness”, “showed not a scintilla of humility” and “made no gesture of contrition, no promise that he had heard the message the people had delivered.”

Let’s look at the numbers.

The House of Representatives

The magic number is 76 in a house of 150, to elect a speaker and govern. The ABC computer, at time of writing, has 65 won by the LNP, 67 by Labor, one green, one Xenephon and 3 others, who are Andrew Wilkie in Denison, Cathy McGowan in Indi and Bob Katter.

Natioanal 4_7_cropped_600

Of the 13 doubtful, I understand that the LNP are ahead in 8, Labor in 5. However, the rural seat of Grey, not currently in the doubtful column, may go to Xenephon rather than to the Liberals, depending on how the Labor preferences break.

Antony Green tonight had a high water mark of 76 for the LNP, but that includes Grey. Labor were saying if they get to 72, they can give it a shot. The Liberals are claiming that their superior performance on postal votes, of which their are said to be 1.5 million, will give them a shot at all 13. They have to win 11 or perhaps 12 of the 13, in order to govern in their own right.

No-one is looking at a deal, except Xenophon, who is assembling his wish list.

I’m assuming the LNP will fall just over or just short of the line, and will be the ones to form government.

The Senate

The Senate results are too hard for me to make sense of with 50 to 70% of the vote counted. However, Barrie Cassidy on Insiders quoted a source which he regarded as plausible that suggested there would be 30 LNP, 27 Labor, 9 Greens and 10 Other. The 10 Other would include 3 NXT in SA, Derryn Hinch in Victoria, one Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) in NSW, and 2 Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. She’s claiming 2 in Qld, one in NSW and one in WA. It does look possible, depending on how preferences go.

Of this motley bunch, Turnbull would need 9 out of 10 if the Greens and Labor oppose. That, as Laura Tingle pointed out on Insiders, means most of his program will go nowhere.

Nevertheless this bunch look more right-leaning than the senate we’ve just lost. It looks, however, that the LNP won’t be able to get past both Hanson and Xenophon. It may be easier dealing with Labor and/or the Greens.

Labor and the Greens would only need to find 3 on the crossbench.

Passing the industrial relations legislation in a joint sitting may be doable, but not without Hanson and Xenophon exacting deals in return.


Under Labor rules the leadership automatically becomes open after a failed election. However, there are no rumblings about Shorten’s leadership. Plibersek has said she won’t run. Steve Conroy told us no-one would be able to muster more than 20 votes. I think Albanese won’t upset the apple cart and create a distraction in these interesting times.

Turnbull, however, has failed every measure set for him, except the electoral wipe-out that loomed with Abbott. He was meant to win well and establish authority his within the party. Now he won’t be able to shape the policy platform to his will, where already the conservatives are seeking a wind-back on superannuation, claiming the party room wasn’t consulted. That’s true, nor was the industry.

Michael Gordon at the SMH asks Will Turnbull be a lame duck leader in a poisonous Parliament?

One Coalition insider rates his chances of surviving at one in 10.

    His agenda is in tatters, his authority diminished and his judgment is being questioned on multiple levels.

What may save him is the lack of alternatives. Going back to Abbott would be death, but Abbott clearly wants to be in the ministry.


The first surprise to me was the 8.8% swing to Labor in TPP terms in Tasmania.

Then the swing in NSW where Labor have now won 24 seats so far to the LNP’s 21.

In Victoria, commentary says that the fire volunteers dispute probably only affected the outcome in Corangamite, which Labor had expected to win.

Then the swing in Queensland bringing so many seats into play was a big surprise.

Hanson’s performance in Qld was expected, but coming into contention in NSW and WA was not.

And the notion that Labor would get anywhere near the treasury benches was amazing.

Nothing that happened in SA was a surprise.

Lies and scare campaigns

Turnbull basically blames his situation on Labor’s lies and scare campaigns. Frankly I think he set the tone for the election in his response in February to Labor’s negative gearing policy. He said it would “smash” property values, which it clearly won’t.

During the campaign he ran one scare campaign after another, with Labor only being able to get on the front foot when they ran their own scare campaign on Medicare.

Just on the back office, I have heard there are 1400 unionised jobs attached to that giant out-of-date computer. Promising to keep it within government must have hurt Malcolm enormously.

One reason he panicked and did it was that the Liberal Party’s polling showed that the election was in fact closer than we were lead to believe. On Insiders we were told that Liberal officials briefed journalists that they were cruising where it mattered. It became the received wisdom during the campaign. They were lying and journalists don’t like being lied to.

Grattan on lies:

    Turnbull complains about Labor’s lies about Medicare’s future, but they were made more credible to the public because of the Coalition’s previous lies and actions. Did it think people would not remember Abbott’s 2013 promise of no cuts to health? Or the attempt in the 2014 budget to bring in a co-payment, unsuccessful though it was? Or the various subsequent moves for cuts and user pays measures?

    Labor’s campaign might have been exaggerated and dishonest, but the Coalition itself had effectively given the ALP the building blocks for it.

I’m not comfortable with texts and phone calls frightening people about their health, purporting to come from Medicare, especially close to and on polling day. If the law needs to be changed to prevent this nonsense it should be. However Turnbull’s call for ‘a step up in political culture’ is a joke considering what he and his mob did.

I don’t know who was responsible, but a ground report from the Sydney electorate of Reid said the biggest factor working against Labor in Reid was an avalanche of propaganda in Chinese, Greek and Arabic about Safe Schools and Marriage Equality. I understand this happened at least in several other seats.

Some 55% of people in Reid speak a language other than English in their homes.

The Greens

The Greens came very close to picking up a couple of seats in Melbourne, where, it must be said, few in Labor would mourn if Danby and Feeney were toppled by Greens. Overall the national Green vote improved by 1.3% to 9.9%. Labor’s improved by 1.9% to 35.3%. The Greens are a long way from becoming a mass party.

I’ll do a separate post on them before I return to climate change.

33 thoughts on “What have we done?”

  1. John Quiggin is saying on stability basically that Labor on 72 seats would be more stable than Turnbull on 74 or 75.

    Looking at the doubtfuls, given the Labor has 67, I can’t see them getting more than three.

    So Labor is very much an outside chance, so the question remains whether Turnbull will flop over the line, or fall just short.

  2. Mr Shorten has suggested Mr Turnbull should resign.

    Mr Turnbull flopped during the election; has he the will or the energy to “flop over the line” now? Perhaps the Liberal Party will decide in the meantime that they should


  3. Well, George Brandis says Malcolm is the best to negotiate with people he has absolutely no connection with. Certainly he’ll do better than Tony did.

    Perhaps Mal should get some advice from Bill, who after all was a professional negotiator.

  4. Perhaps Mal should get some advice from Bill, who after all was a professional negotiator.

    Gillard was a brilliant negotiator too ( allegedly ) but Shorten helped put an end to that.
    Negotiating is made far easier when it’s not you own money your negotiating with.
    I also think Quiggins musing are wishful thinking but his career has been built on writing hymns for the choir.

    That said, Bill at least was forged in the furnace of opposition leader. Mal nor Julia were.

  5. Well, Mal was for a heart beat, but was found lacking in the same way he is now.

  6. …at time of writing, has 65 won by the LNP, 67 by Labor, one green, one Xenephon and 3 others,…

    Since counting hasn’t started again yet, apparently, Antony Green must be fiddling with the software. ABC now has 68/67/5.

  7. Well, the blame-game is in full swing …. but it is strange that none of the LNP are blaming Andrew Robb for his marvellous “treaties(??)” yet many former LNP voters seem to be doing so.

    I’m relaxed and comfortable about a possible hung parliament.

  8. One model for thinking about the future of the Greens is the National party – pockets of regional strength that give them some seats in the lower house – but a wider base in the general electorate that give them a stronger presence in the Senate. There is a mixture of sociological/cultural forces behind their appearance and growth – along with the failure of the major parties on climate change that has left a major policy opportunity.

  9. If it’s hung in both Houses I can smell a Brexit-like clean out of both Major Parties.
    Good, get em back to their core reasons for existing.

  10. Since counting hasn’t started again yet, apparently, Antony Green must be fiddling with the software. ABC now has 68/67/5.

    Jumpy, my screen shot in the post says 78.8% counted. Just now it was 79.4% counted, updated 6 minutes ago.

    You have to keep up!

  11. Douglas H you’ve got it in one about the Greens. But I’ll still do the post, if I last out tonight.

  12. Antony Green says the LNP can’t make it on their own.

    They’ll have to do deals with Hanson in any case. Imagine Brandis, Cormann and Cash negotiating.

    This is going to be messy!

  13. Labor has the unity and a leader who is a good negotiator that a minority government in a thoughtful parliament needs.
    (“Thoughtful” is a much better word to describe what happens when no party can govern in its own right. a much better word than “hung” which suggests there is a problem. Thoughtful was a good decription of the very productive Gillard government.)

  14. JD I applaud the term “thoughtful” (which is a much better descriptor than my phrase du jour – a well hung parliament).

  15. A deliberative parliament is what has resulted from the election lets get it deliberating and abandon the use of the meaningless term “hung Parliament”. Where did that meaningless phrase come from?

  16. Yes, Gillard’s deliberative government passed 595 pieces of legislation, and kept rolling on when first Andrew Wilkie, then Christine Milne cancelled the formal agreement.

    William Bowe (Poll Bludger) thinks a deliberative parliament is the most likely, but Labor forming government is not impossible.

    I think it’s highly likely that the LNP will get more seats than Labor, and as incumbent will get the first shot at forming government. Turnbull is likely to be able to persuade the GG that he can do it.

    Then a speaker will be elected, followed probably by a vote of confidence. I’d expect Katter, McGowan, Wilkie and NXT Rebekha Sharkie would give Turnbull a go.

    Over time it would be shown that the whole thing is unworkable in terms of getting stuff through the senate. There could be internal ructions within the LNP. Unforeseen stuff might happen, but I’d think a new election is just as likely as a Labor minority government.

  17. For the future it is important who gets a gig as 6-year senators. The Senate itself has to decide. The AFR today says the LNP and Labor are likely to adopt a recount system, whereby a recount will be done using the normal half-term quotas. This will be negative for Hanson and the others, and will limit the Greens and perhaps NXT.

    On this basis in Qld, for example, 6-year gigs would go to 3 LNP and 3 Labor. Pauline Hanson and Larissa Waters, with less than a quota, would need to line up again in 2019, as would Jacqui Lambie, and Derryn Hinch. NXT in SA might lose one and keep two, making him a force over several electoral cycles.

  18. I don’t know why people think quantity of legislation passed is a positive measure of a Government. Other than ” our team did it n’ yours can’t “. which is a nonsense to me.

    The amount of legislation passed is the result of the situation the voters put Pollies in. The quality of the legislation is the only thing Pollies can take kudos for.

    If Abbott had gotten 595 pieces of legislation through, I doubt many here would call him a good negotiator. He be a manipulative, blackmailing con artist, lying standover thug and a weak backflipper that uses appeasement to stay in the top job, both at the same time.

  19. No quantity isn’t the most important thing, but it is a measure nevertheless, which demonstrates control of the legislative process. There was some quality stuff, but we’ll let that be.

    It occurred to me that if Turnbull fails to flop over the line Shorten could have a crack at legislating some of his program. We’ve seen the LNP in Qld legislate from the opposition benches against the wishes of the minority government. Shorten might even get more through both houses than Turnbull.

    Someone is bound to put a marriage equality bill on the table.

  20. Abbott’d “be a manipulative, blackmailing con artist, lying standover thug and a weak backflipper”, you got that spot on, Jumpy.

  21. Antony Green has just called Grey in SA for the Libs rather than NXT.

    I think that means that means Turnbull can get to 76. I think he probably will.

  22. Well, QLD doesn’t have a Senate but your point that others may get ” Private Members Bills ” through is fair. I think the cross benchers have a higher chance than the Opposition ( ALP ) because ” negotiation ” ( commonly called compromising second order principals to achieve first order principals. [ Trouble is we know keeping ones snout in the trough trumps all principle for most of them.])

  23. If Turnbull gets to 76 the games will stop. There will still be a marriage equality bill introduced, but chances are the LNP will kill it before they have their precious referendum.

  24. Both LNP and LNP said they would’t do deals to get Government, but they’re dealing like croupiers right now.
    No wonder Joe and Joanne Public don’t trust em.

  25. Liberal Party (LNP Qld) and National Party already have formal written agreements to form a Coalition – this is a long standing arrangement in Australia. Everyone seems to be oblivious to this reality in talking about arrangements for forming a government. There seems to be reluctance to look at existing experiences in this area at a state and territory level. There seems to be a tacit double standard or at least an uninformed approach to the issues involved. Unless there is a halt to a long term trend of decline in support for the major parties this sort of situation is likely to recur.

  26. On the ” marriage equality bill ” thang, why would anyone care unless there wasn’t Government Legislation discriminating against the unmarried ?

    Why has the State got involvement in marriage issues at all, why the need for Government sanction of consensual private sexual or lifestyle arrangements ?

  27. Douglas, it’s my impression the the LNP in Qld are actually one party with one organisation, the main legacy of Lawrence Springborg, and they have to nominate which party room they sit in federally.

    There are rules, but I’m not sure what they are. Remember Ian Macfarlane wanting to shift to the Nats to get back into the ministry?

  28. Oh dear!

    Got lost in the stats trying to sort out how the Greens are going and what the protest vote really is these days.

    Have to work tomorrow.

    Meanwhile I understand that One Nation preferenced Labor in Longman, where Wyatt Roy got rolled. ON got 9% compared to the Greens 4.2%. Also ran an open ticket in Herbert, where ON got 13.3% and now may fall to Labor.

  29. Flynn is back in the doubtful category. Turnbull could get 77 on the most optimistic scenario according to William Bowe.

  30. Anthony Albanese is going to move a motion congratulating Bill Shorten on his campaign.

    The article is still talking of Labor forming a minority government, which is fanciful. There is a good chance the LNP will take all six doubful seats, to make 79. It’s still a fail for Turnbull and a fail for the country, as a lot of things that were going to be fixed now won’t be – from the CSIRO to legal aid, to the NBN and climate change.

    Probably not GP Medicare rebates. Scott Morrison and Alan Tudge, minister for human services, have said we support Medicare, but we can’t afford to pay doctors more. So they continue to get less than iridologists.

  31. Bob Katter has given Turnbull cover on no confidence motions and supply.

    there was a dam at Hell’s gate on the Upper Burdekin and an ethanol industry and lots of other stuff.

    Of note, Katter says he will tolerate no union bashing, or the deal is off. he also wants

    a reduction of all immigration to Australia to virtually nil, except for those people who are persecuted minority groups. And clearly, they are, and I name them again, the Sikhs, the Jews, and the Christians, Christians in the Middle East.

    Elsewhere he said we could take 100,000 of those.

    He also said it was done on a handshake. Looked him in the eye and saw an honest man!

  32. Just heard on the news that the ABC computer has given the LNP 76 seats, hence over the line.

    That leaves three in doubt. Labor is claiming Cowan, but there seems a fair way to go. The report said Labor was pulling ahead in Hindmarsh.

    It looks to me that Herbert will go to the Libs.

    That would put the LNP on 77, Labor on 68, meaning Turnbull lost 13 and Labor gained 13.

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