Home > Oz Politics > Stability


July 4th, 2016

Malcolm Turnbull went to the election warning against the instability of a “hung” Parliament and a minority Labor government. It’s now clear that the most unstable outcomes within the range of possibility are those where the LNP forms a government with 76 seats (working majority of 1) 75 or 74 (presumably relying on Bob Katter and/or Nick Xenophon for confidence votes). The knives are already out for Turnbull, and there are at least three potential successors in the wings, all convinced they could do a better job than Turnbull or either of their rivals. So, any understanding Turnbull might reach with independents is liable to be overturned at any moment.

On the Labor side, the rules changes introduced by Kevin Rudd make it just about impossible to remove a sitting PM, and there is, in any case, almost no appetite for a change. So, if Labor manages 72 seats or more and forms a minority government, there’s a good chance that the government and parliament could run its full term.

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  1. Zvyozdochka (@Zvyozdochka)
    July 4th, 2016 at 10:40 | #1

    The 76-seat figure is still problematic JQ, as the proposed Govt has to provide a Speaker.

  2. GrueBleen
    July 4th, 2016 at 10:50 | #2

    Don’t keep us in suspenders, ProfQ; who are these three supremely confident contenders ? Cory Bernadi one of them, perhaps ?

  3. John Quiggin
    July 4th, 2016 at 10:51 | #3


    I’ll leave it to others to guess who I meant

  4. Simon Fowler
    July 4th, 2016 at 10:54 | #4

    76 seats leaves the rest of the house with 74, meaning that the 75 left after selecting a speaker is still an absolute majority.

    Right now it looks like the results may go 72/6/72, in which case it’s anyone’s guess who forms government.

  5. Newtownian
    July 4th, 2016 at 11:38 | #5

    I didnt notice you mentioning the additional problem of needing to supply the speaker which vexed old Labor.

    Also who do you see as the two candidates additional to Tony.

    As to Labor, would they really want power in the next three years with a recession very much overdue….on top of the Great 2008 Recession we arent really out of? Better perhaps block abhorent legislation via the Senate and leave the conservatives to implode completely under the weight of their internal contradictions? Even though power is a great aphrodisiac surely they are now atune from watching the fate of Malcolm and past bad experiences to the concepts of Pyrrhic victories and poison chalices? And having fewer or no more MPs than the coalition and the bile of the Murdoch Press to deal with is no small hurdle.

    This would also place their reinvigorated party in a better position to develop/refine their policies further and raise a new generation with a view to installing the best and brightest in a subsequent landslide. They also have baggage that needs dealing with still like indigenous affairs, refugees and climate change where they need to also bring the public along, not just impose their first draft suggestions coalition style.

  6. Ernestine Gross
    July 4th, 2016 at 11:39 | #6

    Hm, stability becomes a rather difficult notion as soon as one considers more than 2 variables.

  7. Dave
    July 4th, 2016 at 11:40 | #7

    I think all who would put their hands up for PM – Morrison, Abbott, Andrews – would be train wrecks within 6 months. Two that could worry ALP would be Bishop and Christian Porter.

    For speaker, McGowan who could run the place akin to Slipper who I thought managed the House reasonably well.

  8. Ken_L
    July 4th, 2016 at 11:49 | #8

    With more than 20% of first preference votes cast for neither Labor nor the Coalition, we might finally see the end of lazy two-party-preferred election forecasts by pundits.

    The ALP’s continued refusal to form an alliance with the Greens defies reason.

  9. Newtownian
    July 4th, 2016 at 12:20 | #9

    Ken_L :
    The ALP’s continued refusal to form an alliance with the Greens defies reason.

    Maybe not. The Greens have progressive policies such as refugee policy which Labor would find an impediment whatever the personal feelings of individual politicians about this and other matters.

    Labor has enough trouble reconciling its left ideological and right pragmatic wings without mixing it with Green policies which are still those of a conscience party rather than a party forced to compromise when its primary aim becomes to be elected.

    And in the long term it may get worse. Green policies are still more motherhood and aspirational rather than providing a complete alternative agenda. But in the future if the Greens follow their logic this could set them heading toward a position which really is opposed to capitalism (on this the Telegraph is right though its not the bad change they make out) while Labor holds onto its soft neoliberalism. Conflict would really arise as the environmental crisis worsens either in response to the failure of Kyoto/Paris (most likely) or in the better case of action on the latter, the ructions arising from Australia’s economy being upended by the need for a rapid decarbonization and the loss of fossil fuel export revenue.

    The results of such activist ideology v. parliamentary pragmatism based conflict arising on the political stage are all too evident in Britain in the current Labor Party.

    Also in NSW there is the socialist left problem cf. http://www.afr.com/news/politics/election/election-2016-recriminations-begin-after-greens-fail-to-gain-lower-house-seats-20160703-gpxg7l

    When I saw Albanese had preferenced the Greens second but the Greens had him 6th after a bunch of microparties it sent me straight to voting for Albanese.

  10. Waz
    July 4th, 2016 at 12:44 | #10


    I agree about the alliance.

    But maybe the Greens are so far to the Left (unlike the Democrats) that the ALP can take them for granted (like the unions) and then pursue more independent-minded folk – i.e. the Warrior Prince Xenophon.

  11. Ikonoclast
    July 4th, 2016 at 12:56 | #11


    “The ALP’s continued refusal to form an alliance with the Greens defies reason.”

    I agree. Labor need to get the Greens on board for a coalition (like the LNP coalition). Then push for proportional representation in the lower house so the Greens can get 10% of more of lower house seats with a preference deal with Labor. The Greens won’t take only Labor seats. They can take seats off LNP and Independents too under a proportional system like Hare-Clarke. The resultant coalition could put the LNP into the wilderness for at least 3 terms. Labor just have to stop being greedy and thinking they can “own” government all on their own.

    That should be the strategy. A coalition with the Greens. Put through a Hare-Clarke system. Stay solid, govern well, and leave LNP squealing in irrelevance. A fellow can dream can’t he?

  12. Happy Heyoka
    July 4th, 2016 at 13:06 | #12

    Dave :
    For speaker, McGowan who could run the place akin to Slipper who I thought managed the House reasonably well.

    Cathy McGowan has expressly said she has no interest in being speaker. Unless that role comes with the mother of all pork barrels for Indi, I expect that to continue to be the case.
    The current scenario is a “best case” one for her and Indi (I claim no insider knowledge but I live in Murray, 20 minutes down the road from Indi). Having convincingly shown the excreable Sophie Mirabella the door is just gravy for me.

    I’m in the camp that thinks that an Abbot leadership would have meant a total route for the Libs. A leadership challenge now would be an act akin to shooting themselves in both feet followed by auto-defenestration. They would never again be able to claim the “moral” high ground in regard to their “stability” relative to Labor’s stupid squabbles (see feet, windows, above).

    IMHO this is kind of balance is the best, most democratic outcome – if they all act like adults and actually work for a living then it could be a highly productive parliament. Any government that has the numbers to just “phone in” ideological fantasy as legislation is bad news.

  13. Waz
    July 4th, 2016 at 13:18 | #13


  14. Florence nee Fed up
    July 4th, 2016 at 13:23 | #14

    @Zvyozdochka (@Zvyozdochka)
    Gillard proved that is not true when she install Slipper. One of the best speakers we have had by the way.

  15. July 4th, 2016 at 13:25 | #15

    So we have five independent MPs: Bandt, Katter, McGowan, Wilkie and Sharkie of NXT). If the Libs get 76 that leaves the ALP with 69, remove one Lib as speaker and it’s 75:74. What’s wrong with that scenario? Apart from the margin being razor thin, isn’t it workable?

  16. July 4th, 2016 at 13:29 | #16

    Ikonoclast :
    That should be the strategy. A coalition with the Greens.

    How would you resolve the conflict over lower house seats where the Greens have a chance and/or a sitting member? Do the Greens give up everywhere except Bandt’s seat? and how many Cabinet positions do the Greens get? The devil is in the details with these things.

  17. DebK59
    July 4th, 2016 at 13:38 | #17


    This will depend on the factional makeup of the survivors, as Malcolm Turnbull has lost supporters including Richard Colbeck, Peter Hendy and Wyatt Roy.

    Julie Bishop could be a contender and Abbott is a likely contender. Surely you would only get one from each faction?

    After an election, does the Liberal Party Room automatically put the leadership up for a contest?

  18. Troy Prideaux
    July 4th, 2016 at 13:50 | #18

    Who knows how the Liberal Party Room thinks. They put these right wing nut jobs up high on their upper house tickets (positions that are effectively unaccountable) without appearing to realise the electoral damage it’s doing to the party.

  19. derrida derider
    July 4th, 2016 at 13:56 | #19

    Na, Labor’s judgement is correct here – a minority government dependent on the Greens or (far worse) a coalition with them risks being a major electoral disaster. And I say that as someone who voted Green on Saturday.

    For a start, the old blue collar coal-loving wing of the ALP still exists – doing any part of the core Greens’ agenda will certainly split the ALP while simultaneously uniting and greatly energising both the plutocrat and blastocystophile wings of the conservatives. Given the plutocrats control the media that aint a helpful development. And the Greens themselves would be in the position of the UK Lib-Dems after 2010 – ie being held responsible for policies they disapprove of because they’re part of a government with both the means and motive to make them despised. Unlike the Lib-Dems, they would be astute and principled enough to bring down such a government and wear the short-term electoral pain in the hope of better things in future – and the ALP knows it. So they’re a very unattractive partner in government.

    Whatever else you think of them the Sussex St hardheads are generally pretty good at gaming these sorts of manoeuvres out, and I reckon they’ve done so here. Their disdain for the Greens is not mere prejudice, but ruthless calculation.

  20. Andrew Davison
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:07 | #20

    Whether or not Labor forms government, I think Bill Shorten’s future is secure. Who ever thought that Matthias Cormann’s oft repeated phrase “jobs, growth and stability” applied to the Labor Party!

  21. GrueBleen
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:25 | #21


    I think both of your nominated contenders would be disastrous for the Libs, mate. Abbott is yesterday in so many ways – including his unshakeable clinging to conservatism. And what has Julie got to recommend her ? A bright, sparkling personality perhaps ? A boyfriend she keeps dragging around the world to her paid work dos ? How much genuine ‘backroom’ support would she have d’you reckon ? Cory Bernadi would be on her side, perhaps ?

    No, I simply can’t think of anybody who might qualify as a serious bringer of the hour of great Malheur. Doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of ’em who passionately believe in their own rights of passage though.

  22. July 4th, 2016 at 14:25 | #22

    The Greens had a pretty poor election, really. Any calls for a leftist coalition are coming from green supporters who are dismayed to see their power ebbing away. Labor would be well served to ignore them.

  23. GrueBleen
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:32 | #23


    Let me see, what did I say about that ? Oh yes: by trying to convert the Greens into some kind of player in the day to day argy-bargy of political power, Di Natale will do for the Australian Greens what Meg Lees did for the Australian Democrats and what Nick Clegg’s aggrandizing ambitions did for the British Lib/Dems, viz destroy them.

    With the buffer of genuine idealistic and ideological conviction, the Greens, unlike the Aus Dems, could probably survive and come again though, but I think the jury may still be out on the British Lib/Dems.

  24. GrueBleen
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:36 | #24

    @Ernestine Gross

    Ok, I’ll bite (or supplicate if you prefer): which variables and how many of them ? And why won’t some ‘strange attractors’ damp down the variability and provide some stability ? Genuine chaos is rare, self ordered predictability is far more common..

  25. Trevor
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:44 | #25

    Pretty sure Cory is a senator so no go there. The only one I can think of is the perenial “loyal” deputy Ms Bishop. But cannot see that turning out well of the party.

  26. Troy Prideaux
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:47 | #26

    m0nty :
    The Greens had a pretty poor election, really. Any calls for a leftist coalition are coming from green supporters who are dismayed to see their power ebbing away. Labor would be well served to ignore them.

    I’m always interested to hear what the likes of Barrie Cassidy say about such things and he makes the point that the Greens are setting themselves up for the next election. Not only are the number of seats in play increased, but they’re also becoming competitive in blue ribbon Liberal seats, not just left leaning ALP seats. Their stance on boat arrivals are probably hurting them – I think the electorate are sick of any minor parties criticising policies without providing any solutions.

  27. Happy Heyoka
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:50 | #27

    derrida derider :
    For a start, the old blue collar coal-loving wing of the ALP still exists

    Throw in dodgy forestry policies and you cover my reasons for not voting for them.

    It’s a total shame because I distinctly remember some very clever union movement folks talking years ago (20? 25?) about how to get past that through retraining programs and targeted incentives to develop new industry in the areas reliant on those jobs.

    greatly energising both the plutocrat and blastocystophile wings of the conservatives.

    I love it when you talk dirty, and I know exactly who you mean…

    I think you’re on the money – here in National heartland, freshly reinvigorated, the Greens are still getting hammered for things that weren’t their policies and they didn’t really want to do last time around.

  28. Waz
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:53 | #28

    Given the inherent riskiness in capitalism constantly searching out and creating new markets through heroic and adventurous entrepreneurs, I think that the Liberals are being ideologically pure, by being unstable and prone to falling apart in several directions at any moment.

    Being risk averse and stable is for those stodgy communists on the other side of politics most of whom have probably never read Ayn Rand.

  29. John Quiggin
    July 4th, 2016 at 14:55 | #29

    Assuming Labor gets to 72 or more, it will inevitably depend on the Greens and other independents, but without a signed agreement let alone a formal coalition. Of course, there will be horsetrading for the initial confidence vote and thereafter, but nothing like the Labor-Green deal in 2010. That benefits neither side

    This has happened plenty of times before, and is currently the situation in Queensland. Compared to the alternatives (coalition or a new election) it is the obvious choice.

  30. dennis williams
    July 4th, 2016 at 15:30 | #30

    The knives may be out for Turnbull but with a less than stellar hope of securing 76 seats the last thing the LNP want is for a deposed Turnbull to resign. One parliamentary party is already looking with green envious eyes at the seat – the sort of inner city seat that might fall their way in a by-election.

  31. GrueBleen
    July 4th, 2016 at 16:13 | #31


    True, mate but senators have crossed into the lower house even in-between elections before. John Grey Gorton being a prime example for the Libs, though it was quite a few years ago, I grant, and Gorton had a lot of both party and public support.

    Mind you, he could only do so because the PM at the time was kidnapped by a Chinese submarine somewhere off Portsea. But I’m sure a similar occurrence could be organized for the member for Wentworth.

  32. Peter Evans
    July 4th, 2016 at 16:14 | #32

    Seemingly overlooked is that, quite likely, any agreement between NXT (and Wilkie, maybe Katter) and the Coalition not to block supply will be contingent on who the leadership team in the Libs is. I’d suggest the Abbott faction will not be viewed favourably, thereby keeping Turnbull as leader purely to secure cross-bench support. The Liberal Right will go even more nuts, knowing they could knife Turnbull, but it would cost them the treasury benches. Knowing this, Shorten is calling on Turnbull to stand down, as he knows (everyone knows?) how this will affect cross-bench thinking. Anyway, it’s a delicious scenario we find ourselves in.

  33. July 4th, 2016 at 16:15 | #33

    @Dave McGowan has already rejected the idea of becoming speaker

  34. Ivor
    July 4th, 2016 at 17:39 | #34

    Maybe the ALP will for a minority government ????

    Using this data:

    4 July

    Coalition – 67
    Katter – 1

    ALP – 71
    GRN – 1

    Andrew Wilkie – 1
    Kate McGowan – 1
    Nick X – 2

    UNdecided 6.


    If all the undecided (6) go to coalition, with Katter they only get 74.

    So if Wilkie, McGown and Nick X, act as a block they can choose who forms government.

    So what is the political stance of these three ???????

  35. Ernestine Gross
    July 4th, 2016 at 17:56 | #35


    Confining the discussion to the information provided in JQ’s post, there are the following variables: major and minor parties and some independents (allowing potentially more coalitions than in the past), there is one change in the ALP internal rule re leader selection, m voters.

  36. ZM
    July 4th, 2016 at 20:52 | #36

    Apparently now business leaders are hoping we get a Communist Dictatorship of the People installed now due to not wanting a hung parliament:

    “The cry has gone up. A former minister in the Turnbull government, Jamie Briggs, who lost his seat on Saturday, says that “my fear is the country is ungovernable”.

    The chief executive of Harvey Norman, Gerry Harvey, used the same word, “ungovernable”.

    He proposed an end to democracy as a failed experiment: “The only cure we’ve got is to have a dictator like in China or something like that.”


  37. GrueBleen
    July 5th, 2016 at 01:38 | #37

    @Ernestine Gross

    Ok, so it’s basically stable versus unstable equilibrium: the more independent a given “variable” is, the less likely any state involving it is to be stable. But then, even an habitual flibbertigibbet can be stable enough if all that’s wanted is a supportive vote in any no confidence motion.

  38. FREDDO
    July 5th, 2016 at 08:15 | #38

    There is absolutely no way that labor can form any sort of alliance with the greens. If they did, the Green would just use that as a justification for voters peeling off the ALP and joining the Greens (look how we will leverage your vote by seizing control of Labor). The ALP is well aware of that. Much better for both if they keep their distance.

    Labor should be desperate for a new election. Against a shattered Liberal Party they will romp home (particularly when the ALP/Greens axis will obviously predominate in the Senate).

  39. Jim
    July 5th, 2016 at 09:46 | #39

    I cannot see the LNP forming a minority government without the support from Bob Katter (based on the numbers and where the independents are more likely to lean).

    Given the fact that Barnaby Joyce was talking up the need for more dams in Northern Australia on Saturday night, and the fact that Bob Katter will probably extract a dam investment in Northern Queensland as the price of supply for the LNP, how long until UNESCO declares the GBR as “in danger”?

    The current levels of investment in reducing runoff are around 1/20th of what is required, and nutrient runoff from another irrigation scheme will just be another nail in the coffin for the reef.

  40. derrida derider
    July 5th, 2016 at 10:37 | #40

    Jim is of course right that the rural socialists will be the big winners from this election if the Libs form a government. I can feel a dam (actually several) coming on.

    OTOH as I’ve noted before the rural socialists have far more in common with the Greens than either care to admit (and not only about coal seam gas). If the Greens aspire to major party status they should be putting far more effort into regional Australia rather than the inner cities; there really are votes ripe for the picking there with the right policy platform (which need not include dams) and keeping their Trot wing under control.

  41. John Goss
    July 5th, 2016 at 16:08 | #41

    I agree with John Quiggin that the best arrangement for the ALP and the Greens at the Federal level is not to have a coalition or a detailed agreement. There would have to be a commitment made to the Governor General by the Greens and others that the Labor Government enjoyed their confidence. But all issues with regard to laws and funding of programs would be decided by all parties on the floor of the House. There is no reason this would not work, and people like Wilkie are convinced by their previous experience with the Gillard minority Government that it is the better way to go.
    It is possible to run a Labor Government in alliance with the Greens quite successfully as has been shown by the experience of the ACT Government. Shane Rattenbury – the only Green member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, and the holder of the balance of power- holds several Ministries in the Barr Government, and it has worked reasonably well. But I do think it would have been better both for the Greens and for the Barr Labor Government, if Shane had not been a Minister.
    And I also think, that because of the history of the Gillard minority Government, reproducing the ACT Greens Labor arrangement in the Federal Parliament would be a disaster.

  42. July 5th, 2016 at 19:07 | #42

    People my age remember the battle Bill Hayden fought to get the ALP electable again after Whitlam left. He had to wield an iron fist at ALP national conferences to remove the loony left influence over the party. Eventually this loony left left and became the Greens. Now I like the Greens, but I don’t think the ALP has ever forgotten how difficult life was with them in the party.

    It is time for the same thing to happen to the Liberals. Look at their loony right. Without them, Turnbull may well have one the election. And what could a loony right party do? Direct their preferences to the ALP? They’d never do that, so the Liberals can essentially take them for granted, just as the ALP can take Green preferences for granted.

  43. Moz of Yarramulla
    July 5th, 2016 at 19:24 | #43

    @John Brookes

    NZ Labour have a fairly similar experience and while they tend to talk about it in the opposite way, their solution is the same – hatred. In NZ after the “big split” many in Labour missed having a left wing, and the remnant lefties were unhappy that they’d been abandoned. The difference was that the hard right lurch happened before that split.

    These days in NZ they have minority governments more often than not and no-one seems to get too excited. Perhaps a lesson for Malcolm, they have had a smiling former merchant banker as PM for a few years now, and he seems to win elections. They even legalised same-sex marriage, and have a few barking mad right-wing microparties to boot. I suspect that the difference is that the neo-libs in NZ managed to split off the religious extremists as well as the die-hard economic lunatics, rather than compromising everything to keep them inside the tent. So at election time you have ACT saying “sell off everything, tax cuts for all”, Family Fist saying “god told me…” allowing the smiling banker to look relatively moderate by comparison. Despite slashing welfare, boosting global warming, seriously annoying Maori, screwing up Christchurch and Auckland… he keeps getting re-elected.

    Whatever the Liberal-National-LiberalNational coalition is doing, it’s not that. Maybe they should take lessons?

  44. Apocalypse
    July 6th, 2016 at 03:04 | #44

    @derrida derider

    “I can feel a dam coming on”

    Especially since the anti-Bert Kelly, Nick Xenophon, will be calling the shots. I can feel subsidies for what remains of manufacturing in South Australia coming on. We can party like it’s 1966.

  45. Ivor
    July 6th, 2016 at 08:06 | #45

    So what have the Greens, ALP, Coalition really done to us now.

    They changed the Senate voting system essentially so that preferences could not be directed in deals. This was to lock out candidates like the motorists, and supposedly give the Greens more representation and the ALP and the Coalition a greater sway.

    However the previous preferences were what kept out fascists and racists because major parties wisely put these last in their group tickets. This meant they were pushed below maverick independents. The presence of a few oddballs was a better outcome than a block of Hansonites. And we still get the oddball who exploit their own fatuous celebrity status such as Hinch.

    Now these far-right elements have been let back into Parliament.

    If the voting system had been left alone, instead of Hanson, we may well have more Greens and even a few Sex Party wackos.

    What do you want – more sex or more neurotic Islamophobia.

  46. Ivor
    July 6th, 2016 at 08:08 | #46

    So what have the Greens, ALP, Coalition really done to us now.

    They changed the Senate voting system essentially so that preferences could not be directed in deals. This was to lock out candidates like the motorists, and supposedly give the Greens more representation and the ALP and the Coalition a greater sway.

    However the previous preferences were what kept out fa$ci$ts and racists because major parties wisely put these last in their group tickets. This meant they were pushed below maverick independents. The presence of a few oddballs was a better outcome than a block of Hansonites. And we still get the oddball who exploit their own fatuous celebrity status such as Hinch.

    Now these far-right elements have been let back into Parliament.

    If the voting system had been left alone, instead of Hanson, we may well have more Greens and even a few Sex Party wackos.

    What do you want – more sex or more neurotic Islamophobia.

  47. Troy Prideaux
    July 6th, 2016 at 08:15 | #47

    You’re spot on apart from including the ALP in that 1st sentence – it was the LNP, Greens and Xenophon who pushed through those changes. The ALP wanted to keep the existing preference system.

  48. Apocalypse
    July 6th, 2016 at 08:20 | #48


    Hansen got a quota on her primary vote.

    And you can’t blame Labor for changing the Senate voting system. They opposed the changes.

  49. Ivor
    July 6th, 2016 at 09:11 | #49


    Yea ALP opposed.

  50. Ivor
    July 6th, 2016 at 09:51 | #50


    Her first preference vote was 9%, this is a quota where there are 12 seats up for grabs.

    UNder normal circumstances with half senate election, she would fail.

    hansen generally run if they can get over 4% because they get public funding @ $2.60 per vote!!!! They use elections as their own private bank.

    Not only this, our bloody politicians actually index this rate AUTOMATICALLY EVERY 6 MONTHS, when they leave minimum wages languishing, only able to get increases after a ridiculous and expensive class-struggle process that can be biassed by politics (as when Howard ensured the Fair work Commission denied any increase).

    Hopefully a half senate election is on the horizon and I hope the Shorten’s of this world don’t stuff it up.

  51. Apocalypse
    July 6th, 2016 at 18:10 | #51


    Half the Senate elected this time is in for three years, half for six years. Note that it’s three years and six years, not one HoR term and two HoR terms. (And its actually closer to 4 and 7 years because of the timing of the election). Hanson is in for six plus because she is the third Senator elected in Qld, after the No 1s on the ticket for LNP and Labor. She is in the Senate until 30 June 2023.

  52. Ikonoclast
    July 7th, 2016 at 07:15 | #52

    Anthony Green says on Twitter for LNP;

    73 is definite
    74 is also likely
    75 is possible
    76 is less possible

    It strikes me he should be able to assign percentage quantified probabilities to all these outcomes if his model was good enough. At the same time, it strikes me that the percentages of that list must add up to more than 100%. Since 73 seats is definite then that is 100% probable according to Green. What is the correct term for this sort of list (with essentially overlapping probabilities which will add up to more than 100%)? Is there a correct term?

  53. Ivor
    July 7th, 2016 at 08:44 | #53

    The AEC has published the current seats here:

    AEC Tally Room

    Coalition 74
    Katter 1
    Cath McGowan 1
    NXT 1
    Wilkie 1
    Greens 1
    ALP 71

    Although this is not the final Declaration of Seats.

  54. J-D
    July 7th, 2016 at 08:52 | #54


    Nope. After a double dissolution, the nominal commencement of the terms of elected Senators for the States is backdated to 1 July before the election. Those elected at this election will have terms expiring either on 30 June 2019 or on 30 June 2022. The terms are not extended past six years (or three years).

    (These terms can be shortened further, but only by the moderately unlikely event of another double dissolution.)

  55. paul walter
    July 7th, 2016 at 13:11 | #55

    @derrida derider
    Derrida Derida is always a common sense read, but this business re Labor not being prepared to drop the raw prawn (after thirty or forty years of ecological critiquing from scientists and pol economic theorists) rankles deeply.

    How long before Labor confronts itself as to its irrationalist and inward looking approach to this issue, the symptoms are of denial and blinded, it lurches from failure to failure because it can’t accept the world as it is rather than through rose coloured glasses, rather like Tony Blair.

  56. Ivor
    July 7th, 2016 at 13:29 | #56

    @paul walter

    hardly, derrida is a cold war warrior.

    And Labor is not inward looking and there are no symptoms of denial.

    Labor does not lurch from failure to failure and it is Turnbull who frefuses to accept the world as it is rather than through the myoptic vision of merchant bankster greed.

  57. paul walter
    July 8th, 2016 at 07:09 | #57

    If there was more interest in policy and less in funny deals with developers, also promotion of the developer ideology I might agree with you more.

  58. Ivor
    July 8th, 2016 at 08:16 | #58

    @paul walter

    Yes, that is exactly the REAL problem with Labor.

    I am thinking that Jerermy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders are signs of different pathways for labour in the future.

    UNfortunately we are stuck with Shorten and the ghost of Keating.

  59. Ivor
    July 9th, 2016 at 22:34 | #59

    Looks like the Coalition has got to 76 seats after all.


  60. Ikonoclast
    July 10th, 2016 at 06:41 | #60

    If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would question how Labor’s seat tally stalled and how all late counts always seem to favour the LNP. Of course, I am not a conspiracy theorist and I do understand why late tallies favour the LNP. It is still galling to watch however.

    Well, I suppose the rich and/or conservative old people and middle aged people have again decided “I’m all right Jack, so stuff the young people.”

    Again, the youth and young adult people will be condemned to the continued failure to solve youth unemployment, to being dependent mendicants on the system and their parents and to the general and seemingly endless stupidities of neoliberalism. Young adult people will be limited in life chances, less able to find secure full-time employment, less able to form households and more prone to depression and suicide. These are the costs of rich and/or conservative old people and middle aged people keeping everything set up to suit themselves. What a pack of selfish B’s we have become.

  61. Paul Norton
    July 10th, 2016 at 07:19 | #61

    The old Senate voting rules would not have kept out One Nation because (a) Hanson herself does not need preferences and (b) if the far right micro-parties in NSW had lodged similar group voting tickets as in 2013, their preferences would have gone to One Nation ahead of the major parties, the Greens and progressive independents and micro-parties, and ensured the election of a One Nation Senator.

  62. Ken_L
    July 10th, 2016 at 07:33 | #62


    Ikonoclast, more than a million Australians haven’t bothered to enrol to vote. Failure to enrol is skewed strongly to “youth and young people”, together with indigenous Australians. So while I’m sympathetic to your point, their remedy is in their own hands.

  63. Ivor
    July 10th, 2016 at 08:39 | #63

    @Paul Norton

    The old Senate voting rules may well have reduced the representation of Hansen. A normal half senate election may well have blocked Hansen.

    It is not preferences that determine the final seats but also the distributed surplus.

  64. Ikonoclast
    July 10th, 2016 at 09:05 | #64


    To an extent that is true. However, the electoral and party system of RECD (Really Existing Capitalism & Democracy) in Australia channels almost all votes into the the duopoly parties which are basically neoliberal in economic terms. Labor is less neoliberal but now it never properly questions essential neoliberal dogma. Young people discern that “no matter who we vote for we get a government which does not care sufficiently about youth issues”. Their disengagement (of a proportion anyway) is understandable, albeit unfortunate, and against their own best interests.

    If our system were proportional, the Greens would have 14 or 15 seats in the House of Reps. Now, if you think in the paradigm of our current system you will assume, incorrectly, that all these seats would come from Labor. In fact, that is incorrect. Under a proportional system, all parties end up with proportional representation. Hence by definition and construction, half of these Green seats would come from the coalition.

    On the basis of the above, imagine this House of Reps;

    Coalition: 69 seats
    Labor: 62 seats
    Greens: 14 seats
    Oth: 5 seats.

    I am not sure of the effect of a proportional system on the “other” category so I have left it unchanged. I suspect it might actually shrink but I could be wrong in that.

    In this situation a Labor/Green coalition could and should be hammered out to give them government with 76 seats. It would be a far truer and fairer reflection of the electorate’s democratic wishes.

    With proportional representation, a Youth Party would be viable, offering a progressive, pro-youth platform but accepting pro-youth members of all ages. It would be possible for them to achieve 5 seats or so; again with proportional losses to all larger representative groups. Proportional representation would make more groups feel more empowered precisely because they would be more empowered.

    Of course, the political majors love their cosy little duopoly and would rather play in the sandpit alone; denying plurality and equality. These concepts (plurality and equality) are not mutually exclusive in socioeconomic terms.

  65. Apocalypse
    July 10th, 2016 at 14:57 | #65


    You can’t just take the take the votes cast in a preferential system and assume that people would vote the same way in a proportional system. If the voting system was changed, people might well vote differently. That’s what happened in NZ.

    There is absolutely no guarantee that under a PR system that parties of the Left would have enduring majorities in the HoR. If it was that simple, Tasmania would have all Labor-Green governments, all the time. But Tasmania has Liberal governments about half the time, just like happens federally.

  66. Ikonoclast
    July 10th, 2016 at 15:56 | #66


    I was assuming people would vote the same way in this or a near election; which might be a wrong assumption I grant you. I wasn’t assuming that the Left would get majorities in perpetuity. I was however hopeful something might change and shift the Overton window back to the left a bit. Amazing! And J.Q. thought I was an incorrigible pessimist.

  67. John Goss
    July 10th, 2016 at 18:05 | #67

    We already have a proportional system Ikonoclast. It’s called the Senate. This time round, because it’s a double dissolution, and 12 are elected from each State, it more fairly reflects the votes for minor parties. We will have to see the final results, but I expect the majority of the Senate will be right of centre parties or independents. This would be in line with the two party preferred vote in the House of Representatives where it is expected, when the final numbers come in, that the 2PP for the LNP will be about 50.5% and for the ALP therefore about 49.5%.

  68. Ivor
    July 10th, 2016 at 19:10 | #68


    Why cannot you take a preferential vote as producing a proportional result?

    Obviously the lower the quota, the more proportional, but this is entirely preferential.

    Is there any other system of achieving a proportional result?

  69. Ikonoclast
    July 11th, 2016 at 08:16 | #69

    @John Goss

    The Senate is only proportional within each state. On a national basis, the Senate is grossly disproportional. There are 76 senators, 12 from each state and two each from the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Thus NSW with a population of 7.5 million elects 12 senators and Tasmania with a population of 515,000 elects 12 senators. This is, as I said, grossly disproportional.

    A preferential system also gives a flawed result (though better than a first past the post system). You say that “2PP for the LNP will be about 50.5% and for the ALP therefore about 49.5%”. I have no reason to doubt you. Let us accept those figures for the sake of analysis. This indicates that a majority of Australian voters prefer a LNP coalition government over a Labor government if forced to make a binary choice. Note well the phrase “if forced to make a binary choice”. It does not say that a majority of Australian voters would not prefer an LNP coalition government over a Labor-Green coalition government, for example. They might.

    If we test the electorate with a proportional system, on the current votes, the Reps would come up about as follows;

    Coalition: 69 seats
    Labor: 62 seats
    Greens: 14 seats
    NXT: 2 seats
    Oth: 3 seats.

    In this scenario, Labor-Green could form a coalition and govern. How could one say this was not the will of the people? Equally, under 2PP, as actually happened, the result is regarded as the will of the people. In each case, we have a less than perfect system attempting to find the will of the people.

    What is the cause of the measurement error in each case above in determining the will of the people: since the systems give discrepant results? The measurement error is not in the counting. We can assume the votes are correctly counted in each case. The measurement error is in the mechanics of the choice in each case. The key mechanism rendering the 2PP vote spurious is the granting of extra votes to some people as a mechanism for generating a false binary choice.

    Let me explain. Imagine a three-way contest of Liberal, Labour and NXT candidates. The Labor candidate gets the most votes, say 45%. The Liberal candidate gets 40% and the NXT candidate gets 15%. Then, when the NXT candidate is scratched in counting, the NXT voters in effect get another vote. They now get to vote (even forced to vote) for the main two parties in this case. These are key points about mandatory full preference voting. First, it pressures people to vote for one of a political duopoly in the end (a false binary choice) if they wish to register a valid vote. Also in effect, it gives minority voters extra votes. When they make an ineffective vote under the Preferential system they then make another vote.

    Preferential voting has these two serious and structurally linked flaws. Yes, it is better (mostly) than a crude first past the post but it is still inferior to a genuine proportional system. Quoting the 2PP vote as some kind of litmus of the will of the people is flawed for the above reasons. The forcing of choice into a false binary choice setup is not a valid method for giving people choice, meaning democratic choice in this case.

  70. Ikonoclast
    July 11th, 2016 at 08:19 | #70

    Correction: I should have written above in a key sentence.

    “It does not say that a majority of Australian voters would prefer an LNP coalition government over a Labor-Green coalition government, for example.”

    I got myself tangled in an unintended and unnecessary double negative.

  71. Ivor
    July 11th, 2016 at 10:18 | #71

    Ikonoclast introduces an interesting issue.

    Proportional representation has a subjective (ie moral) basis and an objective (quantitative) basis.

    Logic supports – one vote per person however this can lead to the tyranny of the majority and the relative disregard of other interests.

    So I would support the election of Aboriginal representation on a different basis to representation of others.

    They should have a different proportionality to the rest – for moral reasons.

    Representation has to be fair and accountable and not strictly proportional.

  72. John Goss
    July 11th, 2016 at 11:00 | #72

    You are correct because there are an equal number of Senators per State, that the output from a double dissolution Senate will deviate from a truly proportional result. When the final Senate results are in, we can correct for this problem by reweighting. ie we would give the Senators from the smaller States a lower weight. This theoretical calculation would be expected to reduce the number of ALP/Green Senators in the reweighted Senate, as the smaller States of Tasmania and SA are more Left than the larger States of Queensland, WA and NSW.

    And then to your strange calculation of expected seats for each party in the HoR in a proportional system. (See below) You have adjusted the Coalition, Labor and Greens seats, but given no good reason why you haven’t also adjusted the ‘Other’ seats.
    ‘Ikonoclast calculation’
    Coalition: 69 seats
    Labor: 62 seats
    Greens: 14 seats
    NXT: 2 seats
    Oth: 3 seats.

    John Goss proportional calculation
    Coalition 63 seats
    Labor 53 seats
    Greens 15 seats
    NXT 3
    Others 16

    On these numbers Labor and Greens would not have a majority.

    I think there is a good argument that voter preferences have been distorted by the power of money. But the reality is that, at present, voter preferences as expressed at the ballot box, support right-of-centre parties and independents. It’s not by much, but it is the preferences expressed.
    This analysis is complicated by the fact that right of centre parties have some left of centre policies and vice-versa. eg Xenophon is arguing for a left of centre policy of a top marginal income tax rate of at least 50%. And that example illustrates why the left-right divide is an oversimplification. A simple left-right analysis is OK as a starting point, as long as one also goes beyond that. This was a point John Quiggin was making some weeks ago, (though he was not happy with even using left-right as a starting point, but wanted all analysis to be in multi-party terms). I think for practical reasons one needs to start with a simple two party preferred analysis, and then go beyond that.

  73. Ikonoclast
    July 11th, 2016 at 11:42 | #73

    @John Goss

    In an earlier post, I did say I didn’t know what the effect on Other would be in a proportional system. Therefore I left it substantially the same. I did this again in my new post above except for NXT but then neglected to post my reasons. Your estimate is certainly better than mine but also certainly not perfect. Another blogger above mentioned that a proportional system will likely change how people vote. I think that person is correct. Once people (the “smart enough” proportion) know and understand a proportional system, some might well change how they vote. One possible effect could be to take votes away from “Other” as people will begin to be concerned about “too many” independents, one-issue candidates and minor “crank” candidates getting seats in the house. This factor could work to keep the “Other” vote and “Other” seats quite low. We could look at effects in N.Z. to get an initial idea on this.

    I still think there is a very good case for a proportional representation system in the Reps. We would get more “deliberative parliaments” to use J.Q.’s excellent phrase. I am not happy with a system which, as I term it, channels political choice into “false binary choices”. This sort of ideological straitjacketing performed by the current electoral system is part of the reason, in my view, that we have failed to make headway in dealing with climate change and rolling back the program of neoliberalism. It also plays a role in our inhumane refugee policies.

  74. JanetG
    July 11th, 2016 at 11:53 | #74

    The Aust voting system is the envy of the world

  75. J-D
    July 11th, 2016 at 12:21 | #75

    JanetG :
    The Aust voting system is the envy of the world

    That’s impressive if it’s the world telling me that; less impressive if it’s an Australian telling me that.

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