I was too clever by half with my prediction in 2007 that “the Liberal Party will never win another federal election”, but it still looks as if I might be right. My point of course, was not that Labor would be in forever, but that the Liberals and Nationals would be forced to merge before they could get back in. The merger has taken place in Queensland, with the result that the current Coalition includes only six members elected as Nationals. The future for Lib-Nat coalitions at state level doesn’t look much better. On current trends, NSW Labor will be wiped out so thoroughly that the Liberals will have a majority in their own right, and anything they give to the Nats will be an exercise in charity. It’s possible that a Lib-Nat coalition could get in at the forthcoming Victorian election, but unlikely, which brings me to a more interesting point.
The Labor-Green-independent coalition that has emerged at the national level is still being treated by the Canberra pundits as an aberration, but it’s becoming the norm for Labor. Labor governments depend on Green support in the ACT and Tasmania. The NT government relies on an independent and the same has been true in the past in SA, Queensland and Victoria. On current indications, the next round of state elections should see Labor beaten in NSW and Queensland (at least if they stick with Anna Bligh and privatisation). Victoria is the state where Green support is strongest, and any remotely fair electoral system would see Labor forced into coalition with the Greens. Whether the Green can actually win enough Lower House seats to bring this about remains to be seen, but Adam Bandt’s win at the national level has certainly brought this into the realm of the possible.
So, it’s entirely possible that, in a decade or two, when we talk about “the coalition”, we’ll be referring to Labor-Green, not Lib-Nat.
fn1. That said, I never anticipated anything like the fiasco by which Labor managed to turn the unassailable position they held in December 09 into the hair’s-breadth margin they nnow hold.