A deliberative Parliament in NSW

Talk about “hung parliaments” always presses my hot buttons. It’s coming up in relation to the NSW elections due in March, and will doubtless re-emerge when the next national election is called, unless it looks like an obvious walkover. As I’ve said many times, the term, derived by analogy from “hung jury” rests on the presumption that a Parliament without  a majority for either Labor or the L-NP coalition is incapable of governing properly. Experience suggests the opposite. A majority government is effectively at the command of the PM or Premier, and the only remedy, between elections, is the one we have just seen applied by Turnbull. Governments forced to negotiate passage of legislation with independents or minor parties have generally behaved better.

In the specific case of NSW, the silliness is amplified because the outcome can be predicted, fairly safely, in advance. There are currently three Greens, a left-leaning independent, a Shooter, and two conservative independents. If Labor wins more seats than the LNP, they will form a government with the support of the Greens and (if needed) the left independent. If The LNP win more they can almost certainly cut a deal with the Shooters and rely on the conservative independents (possibly putting one up as Speaker).  Readers won’t be surprised to learn that the best outcome from my point of view would be a Labor government with Green support.

17 thoughts on “A deliberative Parliament in NSW

  1. “Readers won’t be surprised to learn that the best outcome from my point of view would be a Labor government with Green support.”

    Fair enough, but would you prefer an LNP minority government to a Labour win in their own right? This sets your preference for Labour against your preference for minority government.

    I think its a moot point for NSW anyway. I reckon the NSW Libs are favourites to win next year mainly because NSW State Labor is very unimpressive, reminding voters of the infamous last NSW Labor government.

    I also think the coalition has some chance in the federal election, though Shorten is still favourite to be next PM, mainly because ScoMo is a rat cunning and utterly ruthless politician. He reminds me of John Howard in fact.

  2. My recollections of the Gillard government appear very different to the press gallery insider “unworkable disaster” view – controversial policy actually got a lot of public scrutiny, despite journalists never allowing Julia Gillard to finish a sentence or catch a breath in the face of their unrelenting combined attacks on her legitimacy. It seemed to me that democracy worked surprisingly well under such circumstances – and appeared to involve more community involvement.

  3. I would hope Liberal wins NSW state election. Hell I would rather Liberals win all state elections while Labor wins the federal election. The reason is state Labor politicians are generally incompetent anyway and state governments (both Labor and Liberal) are prone to corruption and all other sort of scandals, especially NSW and VIC. Any sort of negative news from state government, if it is held by Labor, will also do collateral damage to the federal Labor which is the last thing I want to happen. I would much rather Labor losing all the states so the negative news from state governments do collateral damage to federal Libs. Borrowing from Andrew Elder’s view on state vs federal, I believe this is the safest way to guarantee Shorten’s 3 term PM.

  4. The first Palaszczuk government which relied on support from the Katter boys and disaffected ex-Labor members is a good example of how minority government can be worse than majority government.

  5. Andrew, using a loose definition of Coalition at the federal level, you are asking if John has ever voted for a Fraser, Peacock, Howard, Hewson, Abbott, or Turnbull government.
    I think I could probably guess the correct answer to that.

  6. Yes. I am suggesting that there is a chance that “football team” support might be the strongest predictor here

  7. @Andrew Unsurprisingly to readers here, I have long voted for the Labor-Green coalition. I’m not sure of the relevance of the question in the current context. If the implication of your last comment is that this is a matter of arbitrary loyalty to a particular side, maybe you could indicate an election in which, based on my expressed policy preferences, I ought to have voted for the LNP (or now, LNP-ONP) coalition.

  8. Talk about “hung parliaments” always presses my hot buttons.

    I’ve seen it usted with reference to the results of the recent Swedish Riksdag election (where it’s a reference to the actual results, not to what people speculate might be the result of a future election), so I’m curious about your reaction in that context.

    Unsurprisingly to readers here, I have long voted for the Labor-Green coalition. I’m not sure of the relevance of the question in the current context.

    It’s possible it was inspired by some version of the ‘argument to moderation’ or ‘middle ground fallacy’, possibly on the basis that consistency requires somebody expressing a preference for so-called ‘hung parliaments’ to be open to that kind of argument.

    Maybe I have not understood correctly and that’s not it at all. But in case it was, it’s worth noting that there’s no inconsistency in preferrning a a minority Labor government dependent (explicitly or implicitly) on Green support to a majority Labor government and, at the same time, preferring a Labor government (with or without a majority) to a Coalition government (which I’m guessing are your preferences, although I could be wrong about that too).

  9. Surely somewhere parliamentarians have been hanged?

    I don’t have an opinion on the wisdom of doing that. While I am generally opposed to capital punishment I can see how hanging recidivist politicians might be the only viable way to stop them.

    As far as “non-majority parliaments”, we have one now and as promised Abbott is not leading it 🙂

  10. Surely somewhere parliamentarians have been hanged?

    I don’t have an opinion on the wisdom of doing that. While I am generally opposed to capital punishment I can see how hanging recidivist politicians might be the only viable way to stop them.

    Going by what I’ve read, there were cases in classical Athens where holders of political office were prosecuted for the way they carried out their official functions, and the death sentence was possible, although I doubt there’s enough evidence to determine how common this was.

    They didn’t use hanging as a method of execution, though.

  11. John Quiggin

    You should have voted LNP in 2004, unless you think it would have been a good thing for Mark Latham – our very own proto Donald Trump – to have become Prime Minister.

    This is not retrospective wisdom. Back then he showed clear signs of the man he has become today. Not as fully developed of course but they were there. The Left was so desperate though to be rid of John Howard they averted their gaze.

  12. Smith9 — so Quiggin should have voted for a Coalition MP in his Queensland seat to keep a problematic person with a Sydney seat out of the Prime Minstership three years after the Howard Government supported the US invasion of Iraq which led to around one million excess deaths.

    So you think it’s likely a Latham Goverment would have likely contributed to maybe two million excess deaths then?

  13. Ronald

    I have no idea what you are arguing.

    But if you are still pining for Mark Latham it may not be too late, depending on where you live. He is reportedly going to stand at the next election.

  14. A Labour party led by Mark Latham, in government, would have included rather more people, and rather more views, than Latham’s. A Latham prime ministership would have been ended in the Labour party room had any absurdities characteristic of Latham’s later career shown themselves.
    Someone who thinks a Labour government in 2004 preferable to what we got isn’t ‘pining for Mark Latham’ and didn’t say so. If you want to make a measured comparison between the competing possible governments in 2004, and propose to use present day hindsight to do it, you have to compare the whole of those governments: and compare what their ministerial or shadow warriors said they would do, and have done since. What Mark Latham has done since his implosion is not much indication of what a Labour government led by him would have done.
    The Labour party is, after all, not a Prime Ministerial dictatorship. Despite the form of the Liberal party rules, it is only a Prime Ministerial dictatorship if the particular leader and the current parliamentarians want it to be.

  15. If Labor-led Latham had won in 2004 he most likely would have demanded, and been given, authority to do whatever he wanted, just as Rudd did and was three years later.

    Latham’s own Labor colleagues are on the record as saying that Australia dodged a bullet in 2004.

  16. If Labor-led Latham had won in 2004 he most likely would have demanded, and been given, authority to do whatever he wanted, just as Rudd did and was three years later.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to there. Rudd secured the agreement of caucus to his personal selection of ministers, but that’s not the same thing; Liberal Party leaders are allowed by party rules to choose their own ministers, but just like ALP leaders their power is limited by their party colleagues in the way that the power of, for example, US Presidents is not. In particular, and crucially, Australian Prime Ministers can be ejected from office by their party colleagues in a way US Presidents can’t be, and in fact Rudd was ejected in exactly that way, no matter what authority the party had previously agreed to grant him. If Mark Latham, in the hypothetical scenario of a 2004 ALP election victory, had in fact turned out to be as bad a Prime Minister as his later conduct has suggested, I think the odds are he would have been ejected from the leadership more rapidlly than Rudd was in reality. So, no, I don’t think the shortcomings of a single individual, even the leader, are a sufficient basis for deciding which party to vote for.

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