A gridlocked senate?

The vote is in, almost five weeks after we went to the polls. In simple terms, Malcolm Turnbull’s LNP scraped in with a one seat majority in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, with 30 seats and needing 39 to pass legislation, he has three options. He can link with Labor’s 26, or with the Greens 9, or look for 9 of 11 crossbenchers, where the voting blocks of 3 Xenephon (NXT) and 4 One Nation are both unavoidable.

To block legislation requires 38 votes, not 39 as Radio National has been saying. Hence Labor voting with the Greens and the ‘centrist’ Xenophon team can block legislation.

First the results.

In the HoR it’s 76 LNP (down 14), 69 Labor (up 14) PUP in Queensland is replaced by one NXT in SA, while Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, Adam Bandt and Cathy McGowan were all re-elected.

In the Senate it will be LNP 30 (-3), Labor 26 (+1), Greens 9 (-1), One Nation 4, Xenophon 3 (+2) and four others: David Leyonhjelm from NSW, Derryn Hinch from Victoria, Bob Day from SA, and Jacqui Lambie from Tasmania.

The other names we’ll need to get used to are the One Nation senators – Malcolm Roberts from Qld, Brian Burston from NSW and Rodney Culleton from WA – plus Xenephon’s mates Skye Kakoschke-Moore and Stirling Griff.

Xenephon says that his team will look at legislation and vote as a block. The way Malcolm Roberts and Rodney Culleton have been talking, they will make up their own mind, indeed Roberts claimed that Hanson had encouraged him to do so. Roberts is a full on climate denialist and conspiracy theorist. Culleton on TV explicitly disagreed with some of Hanson’s policies. If they are to stay together, it seems that it will be as four somewhat like-minded independents under the Hanson brand.

For the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill at a joint sitting, the Government will need 114 votes, which means 38 senators if the whole cross-bench in the HoR votes against it. It will need Xenephon support, who says he wants amendments. Pauline Hanson says she wants a briefing and then will make up her mind. David Lyonjhelm has supported the bill also, but wanted amendments.

Xenophon can’t be avoided, so if he’s onside there is one NXT in the HoR, so only 37 senators would be needed. Presumably Cathy McGowan could be brought on board, but not Katter, who is vehemently opposed.

So to sum up, the ABCC bill looks doable, and may not require a joint sitting.

The Senate will be hard work, but not impossible for the Turnbull government. George Brandis as the chief negotiator will be busy. To me seems not the most suitable for the role. Herding cats comes to mind.

Tim Colebatch has a useful commentary on the Senate voting and on the One Nation vote, which, he said, did particularly well on preferences. Hanson almost won a senate seat in Tasmania, although she only received 2.6% of first preference votes.

His bottom line is that the new voting system has put the voters in charge. How to vote cards don’t matter so much now.

He sees stopping Muslims as her big selling point. Perhaps. It’s Muslims, immigration in general, jobs and the economy, but a large factor seems to be the protest vote. In other words, many people voted for her without necessarily supporting her policies, or not all of them.

The latest Essential Report seems to bear this out. Essential asked voters whether they voted for the party they wanted to lead Australia, of against the party they didn’t want to lead Australia. In the case of independents and minor parties 44% where primarily voting against other parties, presumably against the major parties, nearly as many as the 49% who were voting for her.

For Greens voters, 22% were voting against another party rather than for Greens policies. For Labor and the LNP the equivalent numbers were 14% and 10%.

Overall the two party vote favoured the LNP 50.36 to 49.94, a difference of around 93,500 votes in nearly 12 million. I think that’s one in every 263 voters.

On August 2 Essential found that Labor led 52-48. Some people now don’t like the look of what they voted for.

The remaining main interest in the actual voting is whether the Labor win in Herbert by a mere 37 votes will survive a legal challenge, and which senators will be given a 6-year term, a matter to be decided by the Senate. We can assume, I think, that the LNP and Labor will favour themselves as much as is decently possible. Presumably those who relied on preferences will drop off first.

14 thoughts on “A gridlocked senate?”

  1. I would suggest that if the ABCC Bill is amended that means they won’t be able to use a joint sitting to get it passed by the Parliament.

    If the Government amends it they may be able to get it passed but it removes the possibility of being able to use the Joint Sitting mechanism.

  2. Douglas I think there is no chance that it will go unamended, but probably a good chance of getting it through the senate. Depends a bit on how crazy the ON people really are.

    Phillip Coorey says the Government is optimistic about getting much of its agenda through one way or another.

    Labor will wear the first tranche of company tax cuts for smaller companies and should be able to sort something out on superannuation.

    Much depends of what cross deals the crazies want to do.

  3. That is a really good roundup, Brian. I wish you had written it before the election, there would have been far fewer confused voters. With this summary I will be able to follow the consequences with some solid understanding, thanks.

  4. No probs, BilB.

    Xenophon has just told Patricia Karvelas that he wants amendments to the ABCC on occupational safety, whistleblower legislation, and an amendment to the building code requiring more Australian content.

    Any way along those lines.

  5. Looks to me as though the government will get most of its legislation through with the support of Labor or the Greens. However, it will struggle to get through anything that is opposed by both Labor and the Greens. This is particularly true for things like tax cuts for the rich and stuff that is unfair to the people at the bottom of the pile.
    One of the attractions of of the new senate from Turnbull’s point of view is that it will help protect him from the madness of the LNP’s Tea Party faction.

  6. Trouble is the ALP will oppose even their own policies if the LIB/NATs propose them.

    Oh, and has Swan come out supporting Turncoats call for the banks to pass on the interest rate cut yet ?

  7. We’ll see Shorty flipflop on policy as much as Talcum did, like Abbott and Rudd did as opposition leader ( Gillard doesn’t count, she was never OL ),it’s what they do.

  8. John, yes Xenophon will have to save us from the crazies of all stripes. I don’t always agree with him, but we could do worse.

    Jumpy, the only time any politician comments on banks is to sink the boot in.

    On Shorten, he has a suite of policies that over 6 million preferred to those of the other guy. I expect him to stick to his policies like glue, until he revises them for the next election. It’s the only way he can build credibility and confidence, seeing that he lacks charisma and is no great salesman.

    There’s an argument BTW that the CFA dispute in Victoria cost Shorten 5 seats and first crack at forming a minority government.

  9. And Turnabout should stick to his, such as they are.

    There’s an argument BTW that the CFA dispute in Victoria cost Shorten 5 seats and first crack at forming a minority government.

    Federal Politicians have only themselves to blame if voters punish them on a State responsibility issue, they constantly and consistently encroach contrary to our Constitution. ” Health and Education ” sound familiar ? ” Law and Order on the streets ” ? ” Lower Taxes ” ?
    Serves them right.

  10. Jumpy: The reality is that Australian oppositions (and the Greens) support most legislation. The media only takes notice when they oppose legislation in the Senate.

  11. Hence the opposition for media coverage alone, regardless of previous position. Business tax cut being one example, freedom of speech another.

  12. I knew there was a problem with the candidacy of Rodney Culleton, the One Nation senator ostensibly elected in WA, but I did not understand the detail or the true implications, so I left it out.

    John D has sent me a link to an article by Tony Blackshield which addresses the issue.

    The bottom line is that Culleton was ineligible to be chosen at the time of the election, even if an appeal on a pending legal matter is eventually decided in his favour.

    He was convicted for larceny for stealing the key of a tow truck worth $7.50 in an effort to prevent the repossession of a vehicle he was leasing.

    Because he was ineligible to be chosen Blackshield believes he can’t be replaced by the next ON senator on their ticket, a new election will be necessary for the senate in WA.

    We await developments to see how it plays out!

Comments are closed.