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[1], 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.

58 thoughts on “Coalitions

  1. @Alan #48

    Yes, I think that the Murdoch-Coalition campaign to undermine the government’s legitimacy will probably be effective since a large percentage of the population(including political journalists) think that we elect PMs and the Parliament is an accurate representation of the popular vote. I’m amazed at the sudden Coalition conversion to ‘one vote one value’, historically Conservative parties have had no hesitation assuming power with a minority vote.

    Coalition politicians could always support proportional representation to demonstate their committment to the principle of an equal vote for all.

  2. Jack, when parliament resumes the Coalition will be hammered from pillar to post for falsely claiming the Gillard government is ‘illegitimate’. Not only are are the L-NP irresponsible but it just shows how how inept they are and should apologise to the Australian people.

  3. You are wright Alice the budgie smuggler is back, back where he belongs in ‘Opposition’.

  4. Jack, re the argument about 2.6% swing 2PP (or whatever it was) I see this not a swing in the political spectrum from left to right but a referendum on perceived competence between two idealogically identical parties. The perception was mainly driven by the media and their beat up of the various project Labor undertook.
    The 3.5% swing from Labor to green however was driven by a right to left swing in the community.

  5. So, cortexvortex – your argument is to say that if we assume that Lib = ALP, then any move to the Greens is a swing away from the Lib and ALP.
    Logical – but a fairly pointless argument. If I assume that the Libs, ALP and Greens are all broadly social democratic parties as they all support a fairly large public sector, then the increased vote for the LDP as a party that aims to substantially reduce the public sector means that there was a swing against social democracy.
    This assumption game is fun. Do you have another?

  6. @Andrew

    Apples and oranges. An anti-public sector swing of .02% does not cancel the combined Labor/Liberal/National/Green swing, a concept in itself so silly that it is impossible to calculate.

  7. Maybe I am wrong, but I thought the majority of Australians love watermelons and dislike desiccated coconuts.

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