Thursday, September 02, 2010

A well hung parliament is healthy for Australia

Negotiations are proceeding to form a stable government in Australia, with neither of the "major" (or "old") parties getting enough seats in the House of Representatives to form government on their own.  The magic number is 76 seats.

Currently the Liberal - National coalition have won 73, which includes a National MP in Western Australia who has not yet fully committed to supporting the Coalition.

Labor have won 72 seats.  The Greens had previously committed to supporting a minority Labor goverment [link], bring Labor's total to 73.

Andrew Wilkie, the indepedent who has just won the seat of Denison in Tasmania, committed to supporting a Labor minority government today [link].  Wilkie's commitment boosts Labor to 74.

There are three remaining independents yet to decide who they will support.

Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott appear to share similar views on matters of policy and the conduct of government.  The recent revelation of serious errors in Coalition budget estimates and promised found by Treasury means they are either incompetent or liars, which does not auger well for a future Abbott government.

Both Windsor and Oakeshott have stated that a price on carbon is needed as one of the measures to tackle climate change [link].  Abbott ruled this out during the election campaign and stated his government would not bring in either a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme.

For these reasons (and a few more), I think Windsor and Oakeshott will support Labor too, which would give Labor 76 seats.

Bob Katter comes across as a rough diamond passionate about protecting the interests of rural Australia.  There is no doubt that services and economic conditions in much of rural Australia have been neglected by political parties (and governments) intent on winning elections focussed on marginal seats.  Katter was quoted today saying the "Nicholas Stern and Ross Garnaut are lightweights" along with some mutterings about climate change [link] - which seems to indicate he is the camp of politicians gulled by carbon industry PR.

Katter's background and the views of voters in his electorate would seem to push him towards supporting Abbott, but he may go along with his other two independent colleagues and support Labor too.

We should know by the end of this weekend coming.

The hung parliament has been the best possible result for the election, as our political system was being gamed by the major parties leading to many perverse policies, including unfair treatment of asylum seekers, avoidance of any real action on climate change to name a couple.

The benefits of this hung parliament are already clear.  They include:
  • reform of question time in parliament so that it real questions get asked and properly answered (3 independents)
  • two-and-a-half hours of allocated debate for private members' bills (Greens)
  • an independent speaker in the House (3 independents)
  • bans (or limits) on donations to political parties (Greens)
  • some tightening of policies relating to poker machines and problem gamblers (Wilkie)
  • the scrapping of Labor's ill advised "Citizens Assembly on Climate Change" and establishment of a Climate Change Committee to replace it (Greens)
  • a referendum on recognising Indigenous Australians (Greens)
  • access to Treasury analysis of government and coalition budget estimates and statements (the three independents).
  • the formation of a climate change committee
  • a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan (Greens)
  • legislation on truth in political advertising (Greens)
  • the establishment of a Parliamentary Budget Committee (Greens)
  • a parliamentary integrity commissioner (Greens)
  • improved processes for release of documents in Parliament
  • a leaders debates Commission (Greens)
  • a move towards full three-year parliamentary terms (Greens)
All these are in the best interests of good governance and the people of Australia.


Grant said...

Well the Independants have made their decision, and looks like we will have a Labor Government for the next few months. I say for the next few months as all the commentators, the bookies, and even Graeme Richardson have odds against the Government lasting very long.
The financial commentators predicted that the share market would be clobbered, and as the Market has lost 33 points by lunch time, they look like they will be correct (mining companies were clobbered last night on the London market as well). They are also advising that Super Accounts will be severly impacted if a stable Government with a decent majority is not implemented very soon. I have already had a call from my Super Advisor this morning, warning me that I should expect my Super Account to lose a fair amount until we either have another election, or Labor promises no new / increased taxes, especially on mining companies.
Anyway it appears that everybody can expect their Super funds to be clobbered until the mess is sorted out.
Sorry mate, but it appears you are on the wrong side of politics as many Financial Commentators are saying this is only the start as further major losses can be expected in July next year, unless Labor renounces some of the financial penalties the Greens are pushing for (eg. quoted 50% mining tax, closing Hazelwood power station, huge hikes in energy costs due to alternative power supplies etc, etc.).
One worry I have with the seated Government is the continued plans to waste money, like spending $20 mil on Very Fast Train cost benefit analysis, when even blind Freddy can see it that people will not move from Airlines to VFT.
Anyway not sure what to do with my Super. maybe just take it out and put the money in the bank (at least as I am over 60, I can).

Peter Campbell said...

Grant, you seem to be worried about a lot of doom and gloom. I think the new minority government opens up a whole range of opportunities that for the future.

If you are really worried about your super you could always shift it into cash accounts.

I think the miners need to contribute more to our wealth and infrastructure - not everbody has their shares.

There is now some appetite for investment in sunrise industries of the future such as clean energy, electric cars and fast trains. Currently, we import most of this and pay dearly for it.

How much do you think we are currently spending on road maintenance and upgrades?

Very fast trains have replaced air transport across much of Europe over the last decade. Such as London-Paris, Paris-Stuttgart, Paris-Rome to name a few.

It is time we stopped chopping down our forests for export woodchips, burning coal and oil like there is no tomorrow, and building more fossil fuel dependent suburbs and transport infrastructure.

This transition will boost and revitalise our economy, and protect us from the rapidly rising costs of fossil fuels.

We now have a government capable of delivering this sort of change rather than one of the old parties just pandering to industry lobby groups as they have been for many decades now.