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.