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Aussie election: Gillard holds the advantage

Written By: - Date published: 10:26 am, August 28th, 2010 - 30 comments
Categories: australian politics, International - Tags: ,

A week after Australia went to the polls the outcome is still unclear. However, the way the cards are falling I’d put my money on Julia Gillard remaining Prime Minister and Labor retaining power.

The current seat count is:

72 – Labour
72 – Coalition
1 – Green (to support Labour)
1 – Western National (to support the Coalition)
4 – Independents (3 former Nationals, and anti-war campaigner Andrew Wilkie)

Now let’s look at the House with those numbers together making the assumption that Wilkie, whom the Liberals wanted to jail at one point, will side with Labour.

74 – Supporting Labor
73 – Supporting Coalition
3 – Undecided former Nationals

What’s clear from those numbers is that Tony Abbott would need all three remaining independents to form government, whereas Gillard would only need two of three. That makes it a lot easier for the Prime Minister.

And even though these key independents are former Nationals, personality clashes and bad blood almost eliminate this advantage.

Further factors are:
1) Tony Abbott had refused Independents’ demands to allow Treasury to cost the Coalition’s promises, and made up two different excuses as to why. And though he’s now conceded this point it must look very suspicious for the independents.

2) The Greens will from July 1 hold the balance of power in the Senate. That will make it extremely difficult for a Coalition government to get legislation passed through the upper house. The independents have a far better chance of getting their policies through if they support a Gillard-led government.

Although the numbers are still unclear, I’d say all signs point to Gillard.


30 comments on “Aussie election: Gillard holds the advantage”

  1. The Voice of Reason 1

    The Western Nat, Tony Crook, is making it very clear that he doesn’t support Abbott. Doesn’t mean he’d go with Gillard, but it’s not a vote the Coalition can count on. He also refers to himself as an ‘agrarian socialist”. So if he abstains on confidence, that’s one less vote Labor need.

    “Crook stated he would sit as a crossbencher advocating the interests of Western Australia. He opposes the participation of the Nationals in The Coalition. “I’m clearly an independent”, he stated to reporters. “I can sit on the crossbenches quite comfortably”.

    “Tony Abbott urged me to consider my position and said to consider that I am a member of the Nationals. But I highlighted to him that although we are a federated body, the WA Nationals are an autonomous political organisation”. Crook said he had been disappointed by media coverage of the hung parliament, which has included his seat of O’Connor in the number of seats won by the Coalition. “In every news report and press report we see, my number is being allocated in with the Coalition and it shouldn’t be” he said. Crook’s separation from the Coalition puts him at odds with Nationals MPs from the eastern states.

  2. comedy 2

    If either of the two major party’s leaders had any sense they’d be working as hard as possible to not form the next government as it is likely to be a monumental fuckup

  3. Lanthanide 3

    I wouldn’t necessarily count Gillard needing 2 and and abbot needing 3 as being in Gillard’s favour.

    She can easily say to the independents “I only need 2 of you, so that means you have to come to a compromise on what you want to achieve”, whereas Abbott requires all 3, so all 3 together have a much stronger negotiating position with Abbot than they do with Labor. If they’re only interested in getting their own goals through, Abbott is more likely to meet all demands from all 3 independents than Gillard is because he has no choice (of course there’s nothing stopping her from meeting all demands as well).

  4. Rex Widerstrom 4

    Meanwhile the indepdendents’ voters overwhelmingly want them to support the Coalition but hey, they’re only the plebs.

    I tend to agree with comedy… it doesn’t matter who “wins”, it’s all going to end in tears very quickly as these independents have let the power go their heads (and in Bob Katter’s case there was an awful lot of spare space in there waiting to be filled). They’re going to make NZF post-96 look cohesive, intelligent and principled.

    Crook – despite everyone who voted for him understanding the Liberals and the Nationals are joined at the hip – is openly demanding a $860 million bribe for regional WA as the price of his support. If either leader is stupid enough to pay up, they’ll have every other rehional area (including the dedperately poor and primarily Aboriginal NT) screaming “unfair”.

    No, the reason I’m fuming is that I want more independents in any Parliament, not less, but it just so happens that these guys aren’t exactly the cream of the crop and the spotlight on their current and future antics is going to turn people off voting for independents and have them flocking back to the parties for “stability”.

  5. Blue 5

    I don’t think I would wish government on either major party this time. The Aussie voters monumentally stuffed up at the polls and now they’ve got probably the worst possible outcome.

    Whoever forms a government will have very little power to pass laws. Anything they want to do will have to have the support of some unpredictable and slightly nutty right-wing rural independents who can’t get along with anyone.

    What a mess to leave your country in.

    • Con 5.1

      Funny … I think this may end up being the best possible outcome.

      Whoever forms a govt will have to be be a canny political operator; they’ll have to negotiate with potential partners and actively build a coalition on the basis of shared goals. They will have to address the interests that the independents are championing. The National Broadband Network, for instance, is a big thing for the rural areas of Australia which are in a state of long-term decline. The NBN offers the prospect of being able to attract knowledge workers to rural areas (or at least lose fewer of them). Living in a rural town offers some huge advantages, if the main disadvantage (of being in a cultural backwater) can be reduced.

      Another big issue for rural Australia is climate change. Objectively, climate change is a particular enemy of rural towns which are vulnerable to climate variability. In times of drought, shops and businesses close, and when the drought lifts, residents have become used to traveling to bigger towns nearby, and the market opportunity for those local businesses is lost. Australia’s climate has always been highly variable, and as it gets more so, more settlements will be abandoned.

      But to my mind the best thing about the hung parliament is precisely that it represents the failure of the political establishment to continue as normal. People are questioning the political system, and this is the real threat to political “stability” – not the market jitters around a week or two of coalition negotiations. To my mind, this kind of political instability is what Australia needs: the failure of the 2-party system to reproduce itself means that there’s a chance for some substantive changes in the political system – it introduces an opportunity for the changes to occur in a progressive direction (under the influence of some kind of popular political activity). Bring it on!

  6. If you’re right, then you can go and make a TON of money on the betting markets, that have Labour at only a 30 to 35 percent chance of winning. If you believe what you’re saying, go to iPredict, or to BetFair or to CentreBet, and put a pile of money on Labor.

    I’m agnostic, and so only have been making arbitrage plays looking at price differences across markets as a way of making money. But if you really think it’s going to be Labor, you can triple your money. Go do it! If you think you’re right.

    • Michael Foxglove 6.1

      If only gambling wasn’t a social disease that I refuse to touch. Well… mostly :).

      • iPredict is a futures market, not a gambling site.

        There’s no difference really between buying futures contracts that pay out on the value of a barrel of oil and contracts that pay out on the outcome of an election.

        And, of course, if you’re SURE that Labor will win, then it isn’t really gambling, is it?

        • Lanthanide

          Um, buying oil futures is gambling…

          • Eric Crampton

            And so is buying any share on the stock market (could go up, could go down), same for buying bonds, same for buying a house….

            • Bill Browne

              I buy a house to keep myself and my family warm and dry in the winter time

              • Buying rather than renting is a bet that house prices won’t depreciate substantially. I bought mostly because I wanted to set up heating to a North American standard. But had I thought in 2005 that we’d see a big property crash soon after, I’d have rented instead.

    • toad 6.2

      Farrar’s backing Gillard, isn’t he, Eric?

      • Could be; I’ve lost track. But Farrar would be one to be putting money on it on iPredict if he reckoned that. I like folks to put their money on it when there’s a market letting them do so. Otherwise, I can never tell if they really believe what they’re saying.

        • felix

          That’s because you measure everything in economic terms, duh.

          • Eric Crampton

            So, felix, if somebody at the bar insists that Canterbury never had the Ranfurly Shield in 2009 – insists it really really strongly – but then refuses to put money on it when you offer him the bet, that then, what, makes you more confident that he believes what he’s saying?

        • Pascal's bookie

          Otherwise, I can never tell if they really believe what they’re saying.

          First of all, why should you care whether they really believe it or not? Does your opinion on ‘whether they really believe it’ affect whether or not you think it’s true? It might I suppose, if I knew nothing at all about the matter at hand. But in that case I think I would still be far more influenced by why they claimed it to be true than by whether or not I though they were being honest about their opinion. If I did know something about the matter, then again, my beliefs about their honesty would be an insignificant factor.

          Secondly, even if their honesty about their beliefs was a decisive factor, then I don’t see how the having money on it tells me much. If I have assumed that they might be lying about their actual belief, then I probably assume that they have some motive for the lie. The obviously want me to think that they believe what they are saying, so why should I believe that they are only motivated enough to lie but not enough to put a bit of money on it. maybe their desire to have me think they believe it is worth the bet. Or maybe the bet is a hedge. There could be all sorts of plays going on, and if you assume dishonesty is in play, where do you stop.

          No, I think it’s far simpler to forget about whether or not they being honest about their belief, (because it doesn’t really matter) and just assume they are being honest. If you are still not convinced that what they are saying is true, you can conclude idiocy, or bias or some other factor.

          I don’t think the fact of betting gives you enough information to conclude honesty, if you are prone to suspecting it.

          • Eric Crampton

            I think folks here like to self-deceive about the relative chances of their preferred parties, both here and abroad. That one has money on it suggests passing some minimal hurdle.

            • Pascal's bookie

              That one has money on it suggests passing some minimal hurdle.

              No it doesn’t. It could just as easily suggest that they want you to think they believe it.

              • 1. Saying you believe X, but being unwilling to put money on X, suggests you don’t believe X as much as you said you did.
                2. Putting money on X makes it more likely that you believe what you said, especially if the money stakes are greater than the “convincing other people” stakes.

                Can we agree on that much?

                • Pascal's bookie

                  But you can’t know what the ‘convincing other people’ is worth to them.

                  You are already assuming that they might not be being honest about what they think, so why wouldn’t you think that any amount they bet is just an indication of how much they want to decieve you?

                  All I’m saying is that once you assume bad faith, you can’t really escape that assumption. Much simpler to just assume that they are being honest and go from there.

                  Afterall, what difference does it make?

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    Afterall, what difference does it make?

                    To what you think about the truth value of X I mean.


                  • I’m less worried about folks trying to deceive me and more about folks having deceived themselves. In general, if I’m spouting nonsense and somebody challenges me to put money on it, it forces me to consider how strongly I believe what I’m saying.

                    • Bill

                      What a load of rubbish!

                      How rich or poor are the people entering into the wager?
                      What are their thoughts on or attitudes towards gambling?

                      And what has money or strength of belief got to do with being right and wrong?

                      hint. money has got nothing to do with it and dogmatism always winds up as quaint anachronism at best.

                      hint no 2 . egotism would seem to have quite a lot to do with supposed right and wrong and an inability to shift position, ie learn

  7. Olwyn 7

    Does anyone recall a cartoon in the Brisbane Courier Mail after our 1996 election: the caption read “Weary of their harsh neo-liberal masters, the New Zealanders struck out in a bold new direction,” and the drawing was of a mob of sheep going round and round in circles. Looks like its their turn.

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